Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Important Quotes

The following important quotes convey information about themes, symbols and motifs or the characters of the play. Act, Scene and line numbers are indicated.

Prologue. Lines 5-8:

“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife...”
- Chorus

These lines, among the first in the play, are spoken by the Chorus. They give away the play’s ending but don’t explain how these events happen, thus creating the dramatic irony that drives the play.

Act I, Scene IV. Lines 53-59:

"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 forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep."
- Mercutio

The opening lines of Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech seem to be nonsense, but they reveal a deeper motif of the play: that what we believe is happening and what actually happens are not always the same, and that our ideals don’t always match our realities.

Act II, Scene I. Lines 44-64:

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she...”
-Romeo

These lines, and the ones that follow them in this scene, paint a dramatic and vivid picture of the intense “love at first sight” Romeo experiences for Juliet. Juliet, for her part, is more circumspect.

Act II, Scene I. Lines 74-78:

“O Romeo, Romeo,
wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”
-Juliet

Juliet’s line “wherefore art thou Romeo?” is one of the most misunderstood by speakers of modern English – here, “wherefore” means “why,” not “where.” As the lines that follow it make clear, Juliet’s question is why Romeo must be a Montague and thus an enemy of her own family – not where he’s gone.

Act II, Scene I. Lines 86-87:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/
By any other word would smell as sweet.”
-Juliet

These also-famous lines sum up Juliet’s musings on Romeo’s name. In them, she realizes that the fact that Romeo is a Montague doesn’t change either his internal worth or her feelings for him. They also provide another example of the play’s motif that things are not always what they appear at first glance – although Romeo’s name ought to identify him as an enemy of Juliet and the Capulets, Juliet sees that Romeo’s person is good, regardless of his name.

Act III, Scene I. Lines 95-96:

“A plague o' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me!”
-Mercutio

Mercutio’s final lines before his death place the blame on both the Montagues and the Capulets. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, who see their lives as driven largely by fate, Mercutio places the blame for his own death squarely on human causes.

Act III, Scene II. Lines 21-25:

“Give me my Romeo, and, 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.”
-Juliet

These lines mark the first time either of the title characters mention their eventual fates – that they will both end up dead. They also echo and contrast Romeo’s lines in Act II, Scene I, in which he calls upon the sun to rise and “kill the envious moon….”

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