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Romeo and Juliet | Quotes

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1.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.


Chorus, Prologue

These lines open the tragedy with a play on words that captures the dilemma to come. Like all children, Romeo and Juliet "take their life" from their father's loins; however, the two foes, Lord Montague and Lord Capulet, have "fatal loins" in that their feuding will ultimately cause their children to "take their lives" by committing suicide. The chorus also refers to Romeo and Juliet as "star-crossed lovers." Star refers to the idea of destiny as assigned by the heavens or astrologically. Crossed signifies they are fated for catastrophe. The lines hint at the two forces that shape the action of the play; both fate and human action contribute to Romeo and Juliet's tragic story.

2.

You saw her fair, none else being by,/Herself poised with herself in either eye;/But in that crystal scales let there be weighed/Your lady's love against some other maid.


Benvolio, Act 1, Scene 2

On the way to the Capulets' masquerade ball, Benvolio tries to convince Romeo that he loves Rosaline because she is the only choice he has. The idea is expressed in an eloquent simile that compares Romeo's eyes to scales that don't lean to one side because Rosaline is being weighed against Rosaline. When Romeo sees another beautiful woman, he'll be able to gain a true measurement of Rosaline's worth. Benvolio's words come true soon after this moment. When Romeo sees Juliet for the first time, he completely forgets about his heartache for Rosaline.

3.

I'll look to like, if looking liking move./But no more deep will I endart mine eye/Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.


Juliet, Act 1, Scene 3

Juliet's mother, Lady Capulet, has just come to Juliet's bedroom to convince her to be open to a marriage with Paris, her father's choice of a husband for her. This is Juliet's response, and it says a lot about her character and feelings about love just before she meets Romeo. Juliet is telling her mother that she'll look but only if she likes what she sees. Juliet is saying that she refuses to create fake feelings of love just to please her mother.

4.

My only love sprung from my only hate!


Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5

At Juliet's family's party, a man wearing a mask flirts with Juliet. She does not know who he is, only that she feels attracted to him. Juliet says these words just after the nurse tells her that the man she flirted with and kissed is Romeo and he is a Montague; he belongs to the family that Juliet's family, the Capulets, hates. This is Juliet's first time experiencing love, and as a Capulet she has grown up hating the Montague family. Therefore, the first time she feels love, it is inspired by someone she hates.

5.

Can I go forward when my heart is here?/Turn back, dull earth, and find thy center out.


Romeo, Act 2, Scene 1

Romeo does not want to leave the Capulet garden after he has met Juliet. His heart is where she is. Romeo is referring to his body as "dull earth," a biblical reference to humans being made from dust. When he says he wants to "find thy center out," he is comparing Juliet to the sun: if Romeo is the earth and he revolves around Juliet, she would be the sun in the metaphor.

6.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?/It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!


Romeo, Act 2, Scene 2

Romeo is talking about how beautiful and steady he finds Juliet. This statement contrasts her with the moon, which is portrayed as fickle and quickly changing in the rest of the play.

7.

O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon,/That monthly changes in her circled orb,/Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.


Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

The moon gets its light from the sun's reflection, and as celestial bodies move in the sky, the moon wanes or waxes—appears smaller or bigger. Before Juliet says these words to Romeo, she worries that he may be insincere and asks him to speak plainly of his love for her. He responds by swearing on the moon. Juliet interrupts him because the moon's characteristics are changeable. She asks him to swear on himself instead.

8.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other word would smell as sweet.


Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

A name, Juliet suggests, is a separate thing from what it names. A rose called by another word would still be a beautiful flower regardless of what it is called. So Romeo is more than just his name and need not be her enemy. To rename Romeo would cause him no harm; he would remain "as sweet."

9.

O, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?


Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

Wherefore means "why." Juliet is asking herself why Romeo has to be Romeo—a Montague, the enemy of her family.


10.

Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow/That I shall say 'Good night' till it be morrow.


Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

Saying good night to Romeo is sweet because of their love but a sorrow because she wants to stay with him. The clause "I shall say 'Good night' till it be morrow" means that Juliet plans to think of Romeo even in his absence.

11.

A plague o' both your houses!


Mercutio, Act 3, Scene 1

In the prologue, the chorus blames the stars for Romeo and Juliet's tragedy. For Mercutio, the first to die in the play, fate is irrelevant. The entire Montague and Capulet households are to blame—his allegiance to the Montague household and his friend Romeo initiated the events leading to his death. His curse is strengthened by repetition; he says it three times.

12.

Give me my Romeo, and when he shall die,/Take him and cut him out in little stars,/And he will make the face of heaven so fine/That all the world will be in love with night/And pay no worship to the garish sun.


Juliet, Act 3, Scene 2

Juliet compares Romeo with light, saying his soul, at the time of his death, would be bright enough to make stars out of it. She is complimenting him by saying that he is so beautiful that he will make the night sky more glorious than the sun makes the day seem.

13.

Thus with a kiss I die.


Romeo, Act 5, Scene 3

These are Romeo's last words before he commits suicide. He has just taken poison because he believes his new wife, Juliet, is dead. Because Friar Lawrence's letter did not reach him, Romeo doesn't know that Juliet took an herb to make her appear to be dead and soon she will wake up. In this moment, inside the Capulet family crypt, Romeo intends to kiss Juliet's lifeless body one last time, but his words bear a much greater import by expressing the simple truth of Romeo's situation from the beginning to the end of the play: his first kiss with Juliet led swiftly and directly to his death.

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