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Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Notable Quotes from Romeo and Juliet

[Click on any quote to see it in the complete annotated text of Romeo and Juliet.]

Two households, both alike in dignity . . . 
—In the first line of the play, the Chorus describes two of the main actors—the families of the Montagues and Capulets.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.

—The Chorus tells us the essence of the plot of Romeo and Juliet.

 . . . the weakest goes to the wall.
—Sampson makes fun of Gregory's boast about taking the wall "of any man or maid of Montague's."

Gregory, remember thy washing blow.
—Having picked a fight with some of Montague's servants, Sampson wants Gregory to back him up.

 . . . an hour before the worshipp’d sun
Peered forth the golden window of the east.

—Benvolio tells Romeo's parents when he saw Romeo wandering about in the throes of love for Rosaline.

As is the bud bit with an envious worm
Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.

—Romeo's father describes the ill effects that Romeo's longing for Rosaline is having on Romeo.

He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.

—When Benvolio suggests that Romeo can get over his love for Rosaline if only he will "examine other beauties," Romeo replies that nothing can make him forget that Rosaline is the most beautiful of all, just as a man who is struck blind cannot forget the "precious treasure" of eyesight.

 . . . one fire burns out another’s burning,
One pain is lessen’d by another’s anguish.

—Benvolio again argues that finding a new love is the way for Romeo to escape from the pain of his hopeless love for Rosalind.

That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story.

—Juliet's mother tries to talk her daughter into accepting Paris for her husband by arguing that Juliet will share in the glory of Paris' glory by being the decorative cover to the book that tells his story.

For I am proverb’d with a grandsire phrase.
I'll be a candle-holder, and look on.

—In response to Benvolio's urging that he join his friends in going into Capulet's party, Romeo declares that he is instructed by an old proverb, "A good candle-holder proves a good gamester," which means that a mere onlooker can't lose in a game.

O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you!
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep.

—Mercutio starts his famous "Queen Mab" speech with a description of the fairy queen.

Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.

—In his "Queen Mab" speech Mercutio identifies the coachmakers who serve the fairy queen.

Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again.

—In Mercutio's "Queen Mab" speech, he comments on how a person's life experiences come back in dreams.

True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy . . . .

—In response to Romeo's comment that the "Queen Mab" speech is about nothing, Mercutio replies that that is true, because it's all about dreams, which are nothing. (Romeo has objected to going into Capulet's party because of a dream he had.)

For you and I are past our dancing days.
—Speaking to his cousin, Capulet reminisces about how they used to do just what Romeo and his friends are doing now, dancing in masks.

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!

—Upon first seeing Juliet, Romeo is struck into wonderment by her beauty.

If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

—In his first words to Juliet, Romeo, holding her hand, wittily begs permission to kiss her hand.

I tell you, he that can lay hold of her
Shall have the chinks.

—The Nurse, talking to a handsome stranger (Romeo) about her precious Juliet, assures the young man that Juliet is a good catch—both rich and beautiful.

My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

—As all the guests are leaving the party, Juliet discovers that Romeo is a Montague, and laments that she has fallen in love with him.

Young Adam Cupid, he that shot so trim,
When King Cophetua loved the beggar maid!

—After Capulet's party, Mercutio, calling out to the hidden Romeo, scoffs at Cupid and love.

He jests at scars that never felt a wound.
—Romeo, after listening to Mercutio scoff at him for being in love, comments that the only reason Mercutio can jest is because he has never been in love.

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

—Upon first seeing Juliet at her window, Romeo says that her beauty shines like the sun.

See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

—Watching Juliet at her window, Romeo longs for her.

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
—Juliet, at her window, laments that her love is Romeo, son of Montague, the enemy of her father Capulet. (She doesn't know that Romeo is listening to her.)

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

—Juliet, speaking to the night, reflects that the only thing wrong with the one she loves is just his name.

 . . . stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do, that dares love attempt.

—When Juliet asks how he managed to get over the high wall to Capulet's garden, Romeo replies that he flew on the wings of love, which is stronger than "stony limits."

Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye
Than twenty of their swords!

—When Juliet warns Romeo that her kinsmen will kill him if they find him in the Capulet's garden, Romeo replies that her beauty is more likely to kill him than is a Capulet sword.

 . . . At lovers’ perjuries, They say,
Jove laughs.

—Worried (for a moment) that Romeo may be a false lover, Juliet quotes a saying that shows the world doesn't take false love too seriously.

   Romeo. Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear,
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops—

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

—Romeo tries to swear that he is a faithful lover, but Juliet interrupts him.

 . . . swear by thy gracious self,
Which is The god of my idolatry.

—Juliet tells Romeo that if he must swear on something to prove he is a faithful lover, he should swear only upon himself.

 . . . Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight:
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say "It lightens." Sweet, good night!
This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.”

—Juliet says to Romeo that their love is too sudden and too brilliant to believed, and bids him good night with the hope that their love will bloom.

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

—Again pledging her love to Romeo, Juliet says that the more she gives love to him, the more she has.

How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night,
Like softest music to attending ears!

—In the balcony scene, after Juliet is called in, then comes back out and calls to Romeo, he is enthralled by the sound of her voice.

Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

—In the balcony scene, just before she goes in for the last time, Juliet says good night.

O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain’d from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.

—When we first see Friar Laurence, he is gathering herbs and commenting on the fact that everything in nature has some good use, and that—contrariwise—even the best of nature can used in a bad way.

Care keeps his watch in every old man’s eye,
And where care lodges, sleep will never lie

—Seeing Romeo up early in the morning, Friar Laurence deduces that something must be wrong with him, because although old men have much worry ("care") that keeps them awake, a careless youth sleeps long.

Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears.
—When Romeo tells Friar Laurence that he wants to be married to Juliet, the Friar exclaims on the change; he can still hear Romeo's groans of love for Rosaline.

Stabbed with a white wench’s black eye.
—When Benvolio says that Romeo will answer Tybalt's challenge, Mercutio jokingly replies that Romeo is already dead—of love. (Mercutio thinks that Romeo is still crazy for Rosaline.)

O, he is the courageous captain of compliments.
—Mercutio sarcastically describes Tybalt as one who will kill you with utmost courtesy.

One, two, and the third in your bosom.
—Mercutio sarcastically sums up the result of Tybalt's artistry as a duellist.

O flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!
—Mercutio jests that love has dried up Romeo.

I am the very pink of courtesy.
—In an exchange of jests with Romeo, Mercutio boasts that he is the flower of courtesy.

A gentleman, nurse, that loves to hear himself talk, and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month.
—After Mercutio has hurled a series of naughty jokes at the Nurse, Romeo more or less apologizes for him by saying that he loves to hear himself talk, but means little of what he says.

My man ’s as true as steel.
—Romeo assures the Nurse that his servant can keep a secret.

But old folks — many feign as they were dead;
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.

—Waiting for the Nurse to bring her news from Romeo, Juliet says that old folks are too slow to appreciate the urgency of youth and love.

These violent delights have violent ends.
—As Romeo and Friar Laurence wait for Juliet, Friar Laurence, even though he has already agreed to marry Romeo and Juliet, warns Romeo against love that is too passionate and sudden.

Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

—Friar Laurence concludes his advice to Romeo.

Here comes the lady! O, so light a foot
Will ne’er wear out the everlasting flint

—Friar Laurence describes Juliet as she comes to be married to Romeo.

For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
—Benvolio tells Mercutio that the day is ripe for a brawl.

Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat.
—Mercutio jokes that Benvolio, who wants to avoid a fight with the Capulets, is the very person who is most likely to start a fight.

make it a word and a blow
—Responding to Tybalt's request for "a word," Mercutio invites Tybalt to fight.

A plague o’ both your houses!
—Mercutio, fatally wounded by Tybalt, curses both the Capulets and Montagues.

     Romeo: Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.
     Mercutio: No, ’t is not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but ’t is enough, ’t will serve.
—After Mercutio has been fatally wounded by Tybalt, Romeo tries to be optimistic, but Mercutio wittily tells him the dreadful truth.

     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.

—On her wedding night, waiting for Romeo to come to her, Juliet says that Romeo, her new husband, will be her glorious lover forever.

Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st,
A damned saint, an honorable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell,
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In mortal paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!

—Upon hearing that Romeo has killed her cousin, Tybalt, Juliet both curses and blesses her husband, Romeo.

Thou cutt’st my head off with a golden axe.
—When Friar Laurence tells Romeo that he has only been banished (and not sentenced to be executed), Romeo answers that to be banished (and away from Juliet) is worse than to be dead.

     they may seize
On the white wonder of dear Juliet’s hand
And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who, even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin.

—Romeo envies the flies that can visit Juliet, when he cannot.

The damned use that word in hell.
—When Friar Laurence argues that being banished is not the worst fate, Romeo replies that souls in hell are "banished" from the presence of God.

Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy.
—Trying to talk Romeo out of his despair over being banished, Friar Laurence says that "philosophy" (rational thought) can cure him.

Taking the measure of an unmade grave.
—Refusing to be comforted by the news that he is only banished, Romeo throws himself onto the floor as if he were throwing himself into his own grave.

It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear

—At the end of their wedding night, Juliet tries to persuade Romeo that it is not yet morning, and therefore not yet time for him to leave.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops.

—Romeo tells Juliet that the night is gone, and day has come.

It is the lark that sings so out of tune,
Straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps.

—Afraid that Romeo will be in danger from staying with her too long, Juliet says that it is the lark (harbinger of the day) that is singing.

     and all these woes shall serve
For sweet discourses in our time to come.

—As Romeo leaves her room, Juliet asks if they will ever see one another again; Romeo says they certainly will, and talk about their current troubles as fond reminder of their love.

Villain and he be many miles asunder.
—When her mother describes Romeo as a villain, Juliet says to herself that he is the opposite of a villain.

Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds.
—When her father announces that he has arranged to wed her to Paris, Juliet tries to talk her way out of it by thanking him for his care of her, but saying that she cannot be proud of something she hates; her father refuses to listen and mocks what he considers to be Juliet's twisting of words.

'tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.
—As preparations are being made for the feast of the wedding of Juliet and Paris, a servant tells Capulet his test for a good cook.

Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty.
—After telling her father that she will be obedient to him in all things, Juliet tells him that she met Paris and "gave him what becomed love I might, / Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty." Juliet is only technically telling the truth.

I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins,
That almost freezes up the heat of life.

—Preparing to take the sleeping potion, Juliet is almost overcome by fear.

Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here's drink—I drink to thee.
—In her last words before she drinks the sleeping potion, Juliet reminds herself of why she is doing it.

My bosom’s lord sits lightly in his throne.
—In Mantua, Romeo is in a good mood because of a dream he had in which a kiss from Juliet revived him from death; therefore love, his "bosom's lord" sits happily in "his throne," Romeo's heart.

I do remember an apothecary,— And hereabouts he dwells.
—After hearing that Juliet is dead, Romeo seeks out poison.

     meager were his looks,
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones.

—Romeo describes the apothecary.

A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,
Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,
Were thinly scatter'd, to make up a show

—Romeo remembers that the apothecary's shop showed his extreme want.

      Famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes

—When the apothecary says that it's death to sell the poison which Romeo requests, Romeo replies that the apothecary shouldn't be afraid of death, since he's already starving to death.

The world is not thy friend nor the world’s law.
—Romeo argues that the apothecary shouldn't feel bound by the law, since the law doesn't protect him.

   Apothecary. My poverty, but not my will, consents.
   Romeo. I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.
—The apothecary reluctantly agrees to sell the poison.

     if you had the strength
Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.

—The apothecary warns Romeo of the strength of the poison.

     O, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune's book!
I'll bury thee in a triumphant grave;
A grave? O no! a lantern, slaughter'd youth,
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light.

—Having fought with Paris and killed him, Romeo speaks to him as to fallen brother-in-arms, and carries him into the tomb.

     beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there.

—Looking upon Juliet, whom he believes to be dead, Romeo notices that she still has beautiful color.

Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!

—Just before he takes the poison, Romeo takes his farewell of Juliet with a kiss.

A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo

—Prince Escalus delivers the last speech of the play.