Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Act IV, Scene 2

Summary

At the Capulet household, plans are in motion for Juliet’s wedding feast. Juliet returns from Friar Laurence’s cell looking much happier than when she left; when her father asks why, she says it is because she has repented of the sin of disobeying him and begs his pardon. Capulet gives it, then announces he is moving her wedding date up to the following day. Lady Capulet worries that they won’t have time to put together a proper wedding feast by the next day, but Capulet promises to stay up all night to supervise the process.

Analysis

As if the pressure weren’t enough, now Juliet must move her secret plan to fake her own death forward by one day, since her father has moved her wedding date from Thursday to Tuesday. This short scene continues to build the play’s dramatic irony with multiple double meanings in Juliet’s lines. The most striking example comes when Juliet says that, having met Paris at Friar Laurence’s cell, “I gave him what becomed love I might/Not stepping over the bounds of modesty.” Capulet takes this to mean she treated him as a betrothed woman would her future groom. In fact, the audience knows that Juliet treated Paris rather coldly in the prior scene – not the way a future bride would, but the way a married woman might turn down the advances of a man who was not her husband. Juliet’s description to her father is therefore full of double meaning, based on the fact that Capulet knows nothing about her marriage to Romeo.

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