Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Act II, Scene 2

Summary

Romeo, having climbed the wall into the Capulet orchard, sees Juliet standing on her balcony. She’s lamenting the fact that he is a Montague. She notes that “Montague” is only a name, and that Romeo would be the same whether or not he was a Montague. Just as she’s musing about giving up her own name in exchange for being with him, Romeo reveals himself, startling her. She asks him how he found her balcony, and he says love led him to her. Although she knows she’s rushing into things, Juliet asks Romeo to swear his love to her, as she did when she thought she was only talking to herself. After a few false starts from Romeo, Juliet tells him not to bother; instead, if he wants to marry her, she will send a messenger to him in the morning and he should give her the time and date they are to be married.

Analysis

The famous “balcony scene” contains two of the most famous quotes in all of Shakespeare: “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” and “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” Both connect the play’s two major themes. In them, Juliet establishes that her love for Romeo is all-consuming, not to be deterred by trivial things like names. They also underline the play’s theme that appearances don’t always reveal the underlying nature of things: although Romeo has a name, Juliet recognizes that her feelings are based on his person, not his name.

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