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Detailed Summary of the Prologue to Act 2

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Enter Chorus:
The first quatrain of this sonnet is almost saracastic:
Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir;
That fair for which love groan'd for and would die,
With tender Juliet match'd, is now not fair.   (2.Prologue.1-4)
People scorned heirs who "gaped" (waited with open mouths, like baby birds) for the deaths of their parents. Perhaps some of this scorn is contained in the image of Romeo's love for Juliet eagerly awaiting the death of his love for Rosaline. The Chorus also points out that Romeo was willing to die for a beauty (Rosaline's) which is now not beautiful, since it has been compared to Juliet's beauty. These comments may make Romeo appear immature and shallow, but the play is, after all, a story of young love, and the next line points out an important difference between Romeo's new love and his former love. In "Now Romeo is beloved and loves again" (2.Prologue.5), the"again" does not mean "for the second time"; it means "in return." Romeo's love for Rosaline was a one-way street, but Romeo and Juliet have a mutual love.

The rest of the sonnet is about the lovers' mutual problem. They are "Alike betwitchèd by the charm of looks, / But to his foe supposed he must complain [of the sweet pain of being in love], / And she steal love's sweet bait from fearful hooks" (2.Prologue.8). Because they are foes (or supposed to be), he can't vow his love to her, and she can't meet him anywhere. "But passion lends them power, time [lends them] means, to meet / Tempering extremities with extreme sweet" (2.Prologue.14). "Extremities" means "extreme hardships," and "tempering" means "diminishing," but the lines suggest that their meeting will do much more than diminish the pain of their hardships; it seems that the hardships are part of the reason why they will taste "extreme sweet."







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