* Act II Scene (ii) illustrates the intensity of Romeo and Juliet's love. This love contrasts with the artificial 'courtly love' played out by Romeo for Rosaline earlier in the play. This is the scene in which Juliet proposes marriage. Remember that Juliet was not yet even 14 years old. In those days it would have been very unusual for a woman to do the proposing but, as we learned when Paris talks to Lord Capulet, not all that unusual for teenagers to become married. Many marriages were arranged by parents and were based on suitability, not love - and, of course, this is the conflict of the play: Lord Capulet wants his daughter to marry Paris and the wedding between Juliet and Romeo ...view middle of the document...
The scene concludes as day breaks and Romeo leaves to seek the advice of Friar Laurence.
The scene contains some of the more recognizable and memorable passages in all of Shakespeare. Here, in the famous balcony scene, Romeo and Juliet reveal their love to each other, and at Juliet's suggestion, they plan to marry.
Shakespeare uses light and dark imagery in this scene to describe the blossoming of Romeo and Juliet's romance. As Romeo stands in the shadows, he looks to the balcony and compares Juliet to the sun. He then asks the sun to rise and kill the envious moon. Romeo had always compared Rosaline to the moon, and now, his love for Juliet has outshone the moon. Thus, as Romeo steps from the moonlit darkness into the light from Juliet's balcony, he has left behind his melodramatic woes and moved toward a more genuine, mature understanding of love.
The scene takes place at nighttime, illustrating the way Romeo and Juliet's love exists in a world quite distinct from the violence of the feud. Throughout the play, their love flourishes at night — an allusion to the forbidden nature of their relationship. As night ends and dawn breaks, the two are forced to part to avoid being discovered by the Capulet kinsmen. Romeo and Juliet fear that they might be exposed — that the artificial light of discovery might be shone upon them, thereby forcing their permanent separation.
Shakespeare describes the natural quality of their love by juxtaposing the balcony scene with Mercutio's lewd sexual jokes in the previous scene. Romeo returns to the religious imagery used between the lovers in their sonnets at the feast when he describes Juliet as, "a bright angel" and "dear saint." The recurring use of religious imagery emphasizes the purity of Romeo and Juliet's love — as distinguished from the Nurse and Mercutio's understanding of love that is constituted in the physical, sexual aspects.
Romeo begins to display signs of increasing maturity in this scene. His speeches are now in blank verse rather than the rhymed iambic pentameter evident in his earlier sonnets and couplets. Romeo is no longer the melancholy lover of Act I. Up to this point, Romeo has expressed his emotions in a traditional,...