The Play

Act 1



Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge, break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

5From 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.

This fearful showing of their death-marked love,

10And the exhibition of their parents’ rage—

Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove—

Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage


That which–if you with patient ears attend—

Here goes unsaid, our toil shall strive to mend.




Servants of the Capulet family start a fight with Montague family servants. Benvolio, a Montague, draws his sword and attempts to break up the fight. Tybalt, a Capulet, sees the drawn sword of Benvolio. Tybalt draws his sword and, after Benvolio tries to avoid conflict, Tybalt attacks. The fight escalates. Montague and Capulet enter the scene. The Prince enters and commands the fight to end. Frustrated with the family feud, the Prince declares a death sentence on anybody who starts more trouble.

In the aftermath, Lady Montague asks Benvolio if he’s seen Romeo, her son. Benvolio tells her that he saw Romeo earlier, but Romeo seemed troubled. Later, Benvolio approaches to ask Romeo about the mood he’s in. Romeo replies that he is in love with Rosaline, but saddened that she doesn’t seem to love him back.

On a street somewhere in Verona:

Enter two servingmen of the Capulets


Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals.[1]


coal miners

No, for then we should be colliers°.



I mean that if we be in choler° we’ll draw.


Aye, while you live, draw your neck out of collar.[2]


5I strike quickly when moved.


But thou art not quickly moved to strike.


A dog of the house of Montague would move me.


To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand:

Therefore if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.


10A dog of that house shall move me to stand;

I will take the wall[3] of any man or maid of Montague’s.


That shows thee a weak slave,[4] for the weakest go to the wall.


‘Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever

thrust to the wall.[5] Therefore, I will push Montague’s men from

15the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.


The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.


‘Tis the same. I will show myself a tyrant. When I have fought

with the men, I will be civil with the maids, and cut off their



20The heads of the maids?



Aye, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads°; take it in

what sense thou wilt.


Those who feel it must take it in that sense.[6]


They shall feel me while I’m able to stand, and ‘tis known I’m a

25pretty piece of flesh.


‘Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-

john.[7] Draw thy tool! Here comes of the house of Montague.

Enter ABRAHAM and BALTHASAR, servingmen of the Montagues


My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back thee.


How? Turn thy back and run?


30Fear this not.



No, marry°, I fear thee.


Let us have the law on our side; let them begin.


I will frown as I pass by and let them take it as they will.


Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is

35disgrace to them if they bear it.


Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?


I do bite my thumb, sir.


Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?


[To GREGORY] Is the law on our side, if I say aye?




No sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.


Do you quarrel, sir?


Quarrel, sir? No sir.


If you do, sir, I am yours to fight. I serve as good a man as you.


45No better than mine.


Well, sir.



Say ours is better; here comes one of our master’s kinsmen.


Yes: better, sir.


You lie.


50Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.

They fight


Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do.



peasants; servants

What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds°?

Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.


I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword

55Or manage it to part these men with me.


What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word,

As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.

Have at thee, coward!

They fight

Enter three or four citizens with clubs and partisans[8]


Clubs, bills,[9] and partisans, strike!

60Beat them down!

Down with the Capulets!

Down with the Montagues!

Enter CAPULET, in his gown, and LADY CAPULET



What noise is this? Give me my longsword, ho°!


A crutch you need! Why call you for a sword?


65My sword I say! Old Montague is come

And flourishes his blade to spite me.



Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not! Let me go.


Thou shalt not stir one foot to meet a foe.

Enter PRINCE ESKALES with his entourage


Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,

70Profaners with your neighbor-stainèd steel!

Will they not hear? What, ho! You men, you beasts,

That quench the fire of your pernicious rage

With purple fountains issuing from your veins.

On pain of torture, from those bloody hands

75Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground,

And hear the sentence of your movèd prince.

Three civil brawls bred by an airy word

From thee, old Capulet, and Montague,

Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets,

80And made Verona’s ancient citizens

Cast off their gravely-styled ornaments[10]

To wield old partisans, in hands as old,


Cankered° with peace, to part your cankered hate.

If ever you disturb our streets again

85Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.

For now, all you rest depart away.

You, Capulet, shall go along with me;

And Montague, come you this afternoon

To know our further judgment in this case

90To old Free-town, our common judgment place.

Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.



Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?[11]

Speak, nephew. Were you here when it began?


Here were the servants of your adversary


95And yours, close fighting ere° I did approach.

I drew to part them; in the instant came

The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared,

Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears,

He swung about its head and cut the winds,

100Which, nothing hurt at all, hissed it in scorn.

While we were interchanging thrusts and blows

Came more and more who fought on part and part,

Til the prince came, who parted either part.


O, where is Romeo? Saw you him today?

105Right glad I am he was not at this fray.


Madam, an hour before the worshipped sun

Peered forth the golden window of the east,

A troubled mind drove me to walk abroad

Where, underneath the grove of sycamore

110Which westward rooteth on this city-side,

So early walking did I see your son.

Towards him I made, but he was ‘ware of me,

And stole into the covert of the wood.

I, presuming his affections as my own,

115Which then most sought where most might not be found,

Feeling one too many with my weary self,

Pursued my humor,[12] not pursuing his,

And gladly shunned who gladly flew from me.


Many a morning hath he there been seen,

120With tears augmenting the fresh morning dew,

Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs.

And all so soon as the all-cheering sun

Doth in the farthest east begin to draw

The shady curtains from Aurora’s[13] bed,

125Away from light steals home my heavy son,

And private in his chamber pens himself,

Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,

And makes himself an artificial night.

of a warning

Black and portentous° will his humor prove

130Unless good counsel may the cause remove.


My noble uncle, do you know the cause?


I neither know it nor can learn of him. 


Have you importuned[14] him by any means? 


Both by myself and many other friends.

135But he, his own affections counselor

Is to himself—I will not say how well—

Keeping himself so secret and so close,

So far from sounding and discovery,

Like the flowerbud bit by an envious worm

140Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,

Or dedicate his beauty to the same.

Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,

We would as willingly give cure as know. 



See where he comes. So please you, step aside.

145I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.


I wish thee fortune in thy stay

To hear the truth. Come, Madam, let’s away.



Good morrow, cousin.


Is the day so young?


150It’s newly struck nine.


Aye me! Sad hours seem long.

Was that my father that went hence so fast?


It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?


Not having that, which having, makes them short.


155In love.




Of love.


Out of her favor where I am in love.


Alas that love, so gentle in his view,[15]

160Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.


Alas, that love, whose view is blinded still,

Should without eyes see the path to our will.

Where shall we dine? Gods me, what fray was here?

Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

165That’s much to do with hate, but more with love.

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,

O anything that nothing first creates!

O heavy lightness, serious vanity!

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,

170Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,

Still-waking sleep. All is not what it is!

This love feel I, for that who feels no love in this.

Dost thou not laugh?


No, coz, I rather weep.


175Good heart, at what?


At thy good heart’s oppression.


Why, such is love’s transgression.

Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast

Which thou wilt propagate to have them pressed

180With more of yours. This love that thou hast shown

Dost add more grief to too much of mine own.

Love is a smoke raised from the fumes of sighs;

When cleared, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;

When vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.

185What is it else? A madness most discreet,[16]

bitterness, bile

A choking gall°, and a preserving sweet.

Farewell, my coz.


Wait, I will go along

And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.


(expresses disapproval)

190Tut°, I have lost myself. I am not here.

This is not Romeo; he’s some other where.


Tell me in sadness: whom is it that you love?


What, shall I groan and tell thee?


Groan? Why no, but sadly tell me who.


195A sick man in sadness makes his will,

Ill are urging words to one already ill.

In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.


I aimed so near, when I supposed you loved.


A right good marksman! And she’s fair I love.


200A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.


Well, in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit

With Cupid’s arrow; she hath Diana’s[17] wit

And, proving chastity strong and well-armed,

From love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed.

205She will not stay the siege of loving words,

Nor bear th’ encounter of assailing eyes,


Nor ope° her lap to saint-seducing gold,

O, she is rich in beauty; only poor,

For when she dies, with beauty dies her store.


210Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?


She hath, and in that sparing, makes huge waste.

For beauty, starved by chaste severity,

future children

Cuts beauty off from all posterity°.

She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,


215To merit bliss° by causing me despair.

She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow,

Do I live dead that live to tell it now.


Be ruled by me: forget to think of her.


O, teach me how I should forget to think!


220By giving liberty unto thine eyes:

Examine other beauties.


‘Tis the way

To call hers exquisite, in question more.

These happy masks that kiss fair ladies’ brows,

225Being black, puts to mind that they hide the fair.

He that is struck blind cannot forget

The previous treasure of his eyesight lost.

Show me a mistress that is passing fair;

What doth her beauty serve but as a note

230Where I may read who passed that passing fair.

Farewell. Thou canst not teach me how to forget.


I’ll pay that doctrine or else die in debt.

 Exit all



Paris, a member of the Prince’s family, speaks to Capulet about marrying his daughter Juliet. They debate about whether or not Juliet is old enough, at age thirteen, to be married. Elsewhere, Romeo and Benvolio are talking about Romeo’s love of Rosaline. One of Capulet’s servants invites them to a party Capulet is throwing—not knowing they are Montagues. Benvolio encourages Romeo to go, thinking that it will be a good chance to take his mind off of Rosaline. Romeo agrees to go because Rosaline will be at the party.

Lord Capulet’s private office within the Capulet estate; then on a street somewhere in Verona:

Enter CAPULET, COUNTY PARIS, and PETER, the servingman


But Montague is bound as well as I,

In penalty alike, and ‘tis not hard, I think,

For men so old as we to keep the peace.


Of honorable reckoning are you both,

5And pity ‘tis you’ve lived at odds so long.

But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?


But saying more that I have said before,

My child is yet a stranger in the world.

She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.

10Let two more summers wither in their pride

Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.


Younger than she are happy mothers made.


And too soon marred are those so early made.

Earth hath swallowéd all my hopes but she.

15She’s the hopeful Lady of my earth.

But woo her, gentle Paris; get her heart.

My will to her consent is but a part.

And she agreed within her scope of choice

Lies my consent, and fair according voice.

20This night I hold an old accustomed feast,

Whereto I have invited many a guest.

Such as I love, and you among the store,

One more, most welcome, makes my number more.


At my poor° house, look to behold this night

25Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.

Such delight as do lusty young men feel

With well-appareled April on the heel

Of limping winter steps. The same delight

Among fresh fennel buds[18] shall you this night

30Inherit at my house. Hear all, all see.

You’ll like her most, whose merit most shall be

Which one more view of many, mine being one,

May stand in number, though in reckoning none.

Come, go with me.

He hands PETER a paper

35[To PETER] Go, sirrah,[19] trudge about

Through fair Verona, find those persons out

Whose names are written there, and to them say

My house and welcome on their pleasure stay.



Find them out whose names are written here? It is written that

40the shoe-maker should meddle with his yard,[20] and the tailor with

his last,[21] the fisher with his pencil, and the painter with his nets.

But I am sent to find those persons whose names are here writ,

and can never find what names the writing person hath here writ.

I must to the learned in good time.



45Tut, man, one fire burns out another’s burning.

One pain is lessened by another’s anguish.

Turn dizzy, and be helped by backward turning.

One desperate grief cures with another’s languish.

Take thou some new infection to thine eye,

50And the rank poison of the old will die.


Your plantain leaf[22] is excellent for that.


For what, I pray thee?


For your broken shin.



Why, Romeo, art thou mad?


55Not mad, but bound more than a madman[23] is.

Shut up in prison, kept without my food,

Whipt and tormented, and–[To PETER] Good e’en, good fellow.


God ‘i’ good e’en.[24] I pray, sir, can you read?


Aye, mine own fortune in my misery.


60Perhaps you have learned it without book.

But I pray, can you read anything you see?


If I know the letters and the language.


A honest answer. Rest you merry.


Stay, fellow, I can read.

65“Signeur Martino, and his wife and daughters; Count Anselme and

his beauteous sisters; the lady widow of Vitruvio; Seigneur

Placentio, and his lovely nieces; Mercutio and his brother

Valentine; mine uncle Capulet; his wife and daughters; my fair

niece Rosaline and Livia; Seigneur Valentio, and his cousin

70Tybalt; Lucio and the lively Hellena.”


A fair assembly. Whither° should they come?




Whither to supper?


To our house.


75Whose house?


My master’s.


Indeed, I should have asked thee that before.


Now I’ll tell you without asking. My master is the great rich

Capulet, and if you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray

80come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry!


At this same ancient feast of Capulets

Sups the fair Rosaline, whom thou so loves,

With all the admired beauties of Verona.


Go thither°, and with unattainted° eye

85Compare her face with some that I shall show

And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.


If the devout religion of mine eye

Allows such falsehood, then turn tears to fires

And these who, often drowned, could never die,

90Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars!

One fairer than my love? The all-seeing Sun

Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.


Tut! You found her fair none else being by,

Herself poised, with herself in either eye.

95But in those crystal scales there let be weighed

Your lady’s love against some other maid

That I will show you, shining at this feast,


And she shall scant° show well that now seems best.


I’ll go along, no such sight to be shown,

100But to rejoice in splendor of mine own.

Exit all




After a humorous exchange with the Nurse, Lady Capulet asks for Juliet’s thoughts on marriage. Juliet hasn’t thought about it much. Lady Capulet hints that Juliet should consider marrying Paris, who will be coming to the party tonight. Juliet agrees to observe him and consider the possibility.

Somewhere within the Capulet estate:



Nurse, where’s my daughter? Call her forth to me.


Now by my maidenhead, at twelve year old I bid her come.

[Calls to JULIET] What, lamb! What, lady-bird!

God forbid, where’s the girl? [Calls to JULIET] What, Juliet?



5How now, who calls?


Your mother.


Madam, I am here. What is your will?


This is the matter.—Nurse, give leave a while.

We must talk in secret.—Nurse, come back again,

10I have remembered thou may hear our counsel.

Thou knowest my daughter’s of a pretty age.


 Faith, I call tell her age unto an hour.


She’s not fourteen.



I’ll bet fourteen of my teeth—and yet to my teen° be it spoken, I

15have just four—She’s not fourteen. How long is it now to



two weeks

A fortnight° and a few odd days.


Even or odd, of all the days in the year,

Come Lammas-Eve at night shall she be fourteen.

20Susan[26] and she—God rest all Christian souls!—

Were born that day. Well Susan is with God.

She was too good for me. But as I said,

On Lammas-Eve at night shall she be fourteen,

That shall she. Marry, I remember it well.

25‘Tis since the earthquake now eleven years,

And she was weaned (I never shall forget it),

Of all the days of the year, upon that day.


For I had then laid worm-wood[27] to my dug°

Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall.

30My Lord and you were then at Mantua.

Nay, I do bear a brain. But as I said,

When it[28] did taste the worm-wood on the nipple

Of my dug, and felt it bitter, pretty fool,

To see it tetchy,[29] and fall out with the dug.

35“Shake,” quoth the dove-house. ‘Twas no need, I trow

To bid me trudge:[30]

And since that time it is eleven years,


For then she could stand alone. Nay, by the rood°,

She could have run and waddled all about

40Or even the day before, she broke her brow,

And then my husband—God be with his soul,

He was a merry man—took up the child,

“Yea,” quoth he, “dost thou fall upon thy face?

Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit,

45Wilt thou not, Jule?” And, by my holidam,[31]

The pretty wretch quit crying and said, “Aye.”

To see now how a jest shall come about!

I warrant that should I live a thousand years,

I never should forget it. “Wilt thou not, Jule?” quoth he.

50And the pretty fool stopped crying and said, “Aye.”


Enough of this. I pray thee, hold thy peace.


Yes, Madam. Yet, I cannot choose but laugh,

To think she should stop crying and say, “Aye.”

And yet I warrant she had upon her brow

55A bump as big as a young cockerel’s stone.[32]

A perilous knock, and she cried bitterly.

“Yea,” quoth my husband, “fall’st upon thy face,

Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age.

Wilt thou not, Jule?” She stopped and said, “Aye.”


60And stop thou too. I pray thee, Nurse, say “Aye.”


Peace, I am done. God mark thee to his grace.

Thou wast the prettiest babe that e’re I nursed,

If I might live to see thee married once,

I’ll have my wish.


65Marry, that “marry” is the very theme

I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter Juliet,

How stands your disposition to be married?


It is an honor that I dream not of.


An honor! Were not I thine only nurse,

70I would say thou had’st sucked wisdom from my teat.


Well, think of marriage now. Younger than you,

Here in Verona, ladies of esteem

Are made already mothers. By my count

I was your mother much upon these years

75That you are now a maid. Thus in brief:

The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.


A man, young Lady! Lady, such a man

As all the world. Why, he’s a man of wax.[33]


Verona’s summer hath not such a flower.



80Nay, he’s a flower, in faith°, a very flower.


What say you? Can you love the gentleman?

This night you shall behold him at our feast.

Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face,

And find delight writ there with beauty’s pen.

85Examine every several lineament

And see how to each other lends content,

And what obscured in this fair volume lies

Find written in the margent of his eyes.

This precious book of love, this unbound lover,

90To beautify him, only lacks a cover.

The fish lives in the sea, and ‘tis much pride

For fair without,[34] the fair within to hide.

That book in many eyes doth share the glory

That in gold clasps locks in the golden story.

95So shall you share all that he doth possess,

By having him, making yourself no less.


No less? Nay, bigger. Women grow by men.


Speak briefly. Can you like of Paris’ love?


I’ll look to like, if looking liking move.

100But no more deep will I endart[35] mine eye,

Then your consent gives me strength to make fly.



Madam, the guests are come, supper served up, you called for, my

young lady asked for, the nurse cursed in the pantry, and

everything is in chaos. I must wait upon them. I beseech you,

105follow quick.



We follow thee. Juliet, the County° awaits.


Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.

Exit all



Romeo, along with Benvolio and their friend Mercutio, leave for the party. As they go Romeo claims, among other concerns, that he will not dance. Mercutio twists Romeo’s melancholy comments into sexual jokes. Romeo, not interested in Mercutio’s humor, says that a dream convinced him that attending the party is a bad idea. Mercutio launches into a speech about Queen Mab, the fairy queen, who visits people in their dreams. Though the speech begins in a lighthearted manner, it takes a dark turn. Romeo snaps Mercutio out of his speech. Benvolio convinces them to get moving and get to the party.

On a street somewhere in Verona, near the Capulet estate:

Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, with five or six other maskers, torch-bearers


What speech shall be spoken to excuse us?

Or shall we move on without apology?


The date is out of such prolixity.[36]

We’ll have no Cupid, tricked and blindfolded,

5Bearing a Tartar’s painted bow of lath,[37]


Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper°.

But let them measure us by what they will;

We’ll measure them a measure, and be gone.



Give me a torch, I am not for this ambling°.

10Being but heavy, I will bear the light.


Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.


Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes

With nimble soles; I have a soul of lead

That so stakes me to the ground I cannot move.


15You are a lover: borrow Cupid’s wings

And soar above a common bound.[38]


I am too sore enpierced with his shaft

To soar with his light feathers, and so bound

I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.[39]

20Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.


And, to sink in it, so you burden love:

Too great oppression for a tender thing.


Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,

Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.


25If love be rough with you, be rough with love,

Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.

face; expression

Give me a case to put my visage° in,


A visor° for a visor. What care I

If a curious eye doth note deformities?[40]

30Here are the beetle-brows[41] that shall blush for me.


Come, knock and enter; and no sooner in,

But every man betake him to his legs.[42]


A torch for me. Let wantons light of heart[43]

the floor

Tickle the senseless rushes° with their heels,

35For I am proverbed with a grandsier phrase.[44]

I’ll be a candle-holder, and look on,

The game was never so fair, and I am done.[45]


Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word,[46]

your misery

If thou art done, we’ll draw thee from the mire°

40Or—save your reverence[47]—love, wherein thou stickest

Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!


Nay, that’s not so.


I mean, sir, in delay

We waste our lights in vain, like lights by day;

good intentions

45Take our good meaning°, for our judgment’s fit

Five times in that, ere once in our fine wits.



And we mean well in going to this masque°,

But ‘tis no wit to go.


Why, may one ask?


50I dreamt a dream tonight.


And so did I.


Well, what was yours?


That dreamers often lie.


In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.


55O, then I see Queen Mab has 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°,

miniscule creatures

Drawn with a team of little atomies°

60Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.

spider legs

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs°,

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers,


Her traces° of the smallest spider web,

part of a harness

Her collars° of the moonshine’s watery beams,

film; fine thread

65Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of philome°,

Her waggoner, a small gray-coated gnat

Not half so big as a round little worm

Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.[48]

Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,


70Made by the joiner° squirrel or old grub,

Time out o’ mind[49] the fairies’ coach-makers.

In this state she gallops night by night

Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;

On courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight,[50]

75O’er ladies’ lips, who strait on kisses dream—which

Oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues


Because their breaths with sweetmeats° tainted are.

Sometime she gallops o’er a lawyer’s nose,

Then dreams he of smelling out a suit.

80And sometime comes she with a tithe-pigs tail,[51]

Tickling a person’s nose that lies asleep,

Then he dreams of another benefice.[52]

Sometimes she drives over a soldier’s neck,

And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,


85Of breaches, ambuscados°, Spanish blades,

Of healths five-fathom deep,[53] and then anon

Drums in his ears, at which he starts and wakes,

And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two

And sleeps again. This is that very Mab

90That plaits the manes of horses in the night

And bakes the elklocks in foul sluttish hairs

Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes.[54]

This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,

That presses them and learns them first to bear,

95Making them women of good carriage.

This is she—[55]


Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!

Thou talkst of nothing.


True, I talk of dreams

100Which are the children of an idle brain,

Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,

Which is as thin of substance as the air,

And more inconstant than the wind, who woos


Even now the frozen bosom° of the North;

105And, being angered, puffs away from thence,

Turning his tide to the dew-dropping South.


This wind you talk of blows us from ourselves.

Supper is done, and we shall come too late.


I fear too early, for my mind misgives

110Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date

With this night’s revels, and expire the term

Of the despised life closed in my breast

By some vile forfeit of untimely death.

115But he that hath the steerage of my course,

Direct my suit. On, lusty gentlemen!


Strike, drum!

Exit all




The party begins. Capulet greets guests, encouraging them to dance and have a good time. Romeo sees Juliet. For him, it’s love at first sight. Tybalt recognizes Romeo as a Montague, and wants to fight. Capulet hears this and rebukes Tybalt. Capulet wants no disturbances at the party, and explains that Romeo is a respected youth in the community.

Romeo approaches Juliet, touching her hand. They flirt back and forth and eventually kiss. The Nurse finds Juliet and beckons her away. Romeo asks the Nurse who Juliet is. The Nurse tells him she’s Capulet’s daughter. Juliet is intrigued by Romeo, and convinces the Nurse to find out who he is. The Nurse finds out, and tells Juliet that Romeo is a Montague. Romeo and Juliet are each crushed to find out the identity of the other. They both feel powerful longing for one another despite their family conflict.

Inside the Capulet estate:

Enter SERVINGMEN with napkins


Where’s Potpan, that he does not help us clear away? He took a plate? He eats from it?


When good manners are found in just one or two men’s hands,

and they unwashed too, ‘tis a foul thing.


5Take away the joint stools, remove the sideboards, and the plates

too, good thou, save me a piece of marzipan,[56] and if thou loves

me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone and Nell.[57]


Anthonie and Potpan!


Aye, boy, ready.


10You are looked for and called for, asked for and sought for in the

great chamber.


We cannot be here and there too. Cheerly, boys,

Be brisk for now, then the longest liver takes all.

Exit all

Enter CAPULET, TYBALT, JULIET, NURSE, LADY CAPULET as well as ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, and the other guests and servants


Welcome, gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes

foot calluses

Unplagued with corns° will walk about with you.

15Ah, my mistresses, which of you all

Will now deny to dance? She that makes dainty,[58]

She I’ll swear hath corns. Am I come near to truth?

Welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day

When I could wear a mask and tell

20A whispering tale in a fair lady’s ear

Such as would please. ‘Tis gone, ‘tis gone, ‘tis gone.

You are welcome, gentlemen!—Come, musicians, play!

Music plays, they dance

The hall, the hall, make room! And foot it, girls.


[To SERVANTS] More light, you knaves°. And turn the tables up.

25And quench the fire. The room has grown too hot.

Ah sirrah, this unlooked-for sport feels well.

[To COUSIN] Nay sit, nay sit, good cousin Capulet,

For you and I are past our dancing days.

How long is ‘t now since last yourself and I

30Were in a mask?


By’r Lady,[59] about thirty years.


What man, ‘tis not so much, ‘tis not so much.


‘Tis since the nuptial° of Lucentio,

Come the years as quickly as they will,

35Some five and twenty years than last we masked.


‘Tis more, ‘tis more, his son is older, sir.

His son is thirty.


Will you tell me that?

a child

His son was but a ward° two years ago.


40What lady is that which does enrich the hand of yonder Knight?


I know not, sir.


Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright,

It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night


45Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s° ear,

Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.[60]

So shows like a snowy dove trooping with crows,

That yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.

When dancing done, I’ll find her place of stand,

50And touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.

swear off

If my heart loved till now, forswear° it sight,

For I never saw true beauty till this night.


This by that voice, should be a Montague.

Fetch me my rapier,[61] boy.

His PAGE exits

55How dares the slave[62]

Come hither covered with a masked face,

To laugh and scorn at our ceremony?

breeding; pedigree

Now, by the stock° and honor of my kin,

I’ll strike him dead, and hold it not a sin.


60Why, how now, kinsman? Wherefore storm you so?


Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe.

A villain that is hither come in spite,

To scorn at our ceremony this night.


Young Romeo, is it?


65‘Tis he, that villain Romeo.


Content thee, gentle cousin. Let him alone.

He bears himself like a real gentleman.

And, to say truth, Verona brags of him

To be a virtuous and well-governed youth.

70I would not, for the wealth of all this town,

Here in my house do him disparagement.

Therefore be patient, take no note of him.

It is my will, so if this thou respect,

Show a fair presence, and give up those frowns

75Which are ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.


It fits, when such a villain is a guest.

I’ll not endure him.


He shall be endured.

What, lordful[63] boy! I say he shall. Go to.

80Am I the master here or you? Go to.

You’ll not endure him. God shall mend my soul!

You’ll make a mutiny among my guests:

You will set chaos here. You’ll be the cause!


But Uncle, he shames us.


85Go to, go to.

You are a saucy boy. Is’t so, indeed?

This trick may chance to scathe you, I know what.

Must you contradict me? Marry, ‘tis time–

[To GUESTS] Well said, my hearts — [To TYBALT] You are a young fool. Go.

90Be quiet, or — [To SERVANTS] More light, more light! — [To TYBALT] For shame,

I’ll make you quiet. — [To GUESTS] What, cheerly my hearts!


Patience forced, with willful choler meeting,

Makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting.

I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall,

95Now seeming sweet, convert to bitterest gall.



If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, readily stand,

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.


100Good Pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much.

Such mannerly devotion shows in this,

For saints have hands, that pilgrims’ hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.


Have not saints lips? And holy palmers too?


105Aye, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.


O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do,

And pray. Grant thou, lest faith turn to despair?


Saints do not move; they grant for prayers’ sake.


Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.

110Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.

They kiss


Now have my lips the sin that they have took.


Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urged!

Give me my sin again.

They kiss again


You kiss by the book.


Madam, your mother craves a word with you.

JULIET joins her mother


115Who is her mother?


Marry, bachelor,

Her mother is the lady of the house,

And a good lady, and so wise and virtuous.

I nursed her daughter that you talked withal.

120I tell you, he that can lay hold of her

Shall have the chinks.[64]


Is she a Capulet?

O, what price! My life is my foe’s charge.


Away, begone! This sport has reached its best.


125Aye, so I fear. The more is my unrest.


Nay, gentlemen, prepare not to be gone!

We have a trifling foolish feast that comes.

Is it e’en so? Why, then, I thank you all.

I thank you, honest gentlemen, good night.—

130[To SERVANTS] More torches here.— Come on, then, let’s to bed.

Ah, sirrah, by my thought, it waxes late:

I’ll to my rest.

Exit all but JULIET and NURSE


Come hither, nurse. Who was that gentleman?


The son and heir of old Tiberio.


135Who’s he that now is going out the door?


Marry, that, I think, be young Petruchio.


Who’s he that follows here that would not dance?


I know not.


Go ask his name.

NURSE goes

140If he be married,

My grave is like to be my wedding bed.

NURSE returns


His name is Romeo, and a Montague,

The only son of your great enemy.


My only love sprung from my only hate!

145Too early seen, unknown, and known too late.

Prodigious birth of love it is to me,

That I must love a loathed enemy.


What’s this? What’s this?


A rhyme I learned just now

150From one I danced withal.

One calls within “JULIET!”


right away

Anon, anon°.

Come, let’s away. The strangers are all gone.

Exit all

  1. To not carry coals: to bear no insults
  2. Collar might refer to a hangman’s noose.
  3. take the wall: There were no sidewalks at this time, so when passing one another on the street one person would “take the wall,” forcing the other to walk in the gutter.
  4. slave: meant as an insult to someone’s class. See also note to 1.5.55
  5. Sensitivity Footnote: Thrust...wall is a phrase alluding to sexual assault; in the context of this line, the speaker is saying because women are weak they are "thrust to the wall." This is an example of victim blaming and misogyny.
  6. Sensitivity note: Take it is referring to rape in this context.
  7. poor-john: fish that was salted or dried because of its inferior quality
  8. partisan: a weapon, consisting of a spearhead mounted on a pole
  9. bill: a close combat weapon
  10. ornaments: articles of dress, decorative
  11. abroach: in action or agitation
  12. humor: fancy, whim; can also refer to mood
  13. Aurora: goddess of the dawn
  14. importuned: persistently asked
  15. view: in this case, appearance
  16. discreet: subtle, wise, prudent
  17. Diana: Roman goddess of the hunt, who remained a virgin
  18. fennel buds: unopened flowers that appear in springtime
  19. sirrah: term of address for a man of lower station
  20. yard: possibly referring to “yards” of clothing
  21. last: tool involved in shoe-making
  22. plantain leaf: thought to have curative powers
  23. Sensitivity note: Madman refers to someone who is mentally ill; the term can be traced to the early 14th c. meaning "one who is insane, a lunatic." This is an example of ableist language.
  24. God ‘i’ good e’en: “May God give you a good evening.”
  25. Lammastide: August 1st
  26. Susan: the Nurse’s daughter, who died
  27. worm-wood: a bitter plant used in medicine and alcohol
  28. When it did taste: Through here, the nurse refers to the infant Juliet as “it.”
  29. tetchy: irritably or peevishly sensitive
  30. ‘Twas no ned…to bid me trudge: i.e., I didn’t need to be told twice to leave
  31. by my holidam: similar oath to “by the rood”
  32. cockerel’s stone: a rooster’s testicle
  33. man of wax: as perfect as a man fashioned from wax
  34. fair without: In this instance, “without” means “on the outside.”
  35. endart: to throw or cast like a dart
  36. The date is out of such prolixity: i.e., such boring excuses are unfashionable
  37. Tartar: ethnic group known for shooting arrows while moving on horseback. Bow of lath: cheap wood used for pretend bows. Benvolio is saying they won’t have someone dressed up as Cupid introducing them to the party while holding this item. Sensitivity note: Tartar is any member of several Turkic-speaking peoples that lived mainly in west-central Russia. But in this line, used as a way to describe Romeo's "unacceptable" appearance. This oppressive language exhibits harmful representation.
  38. common bound: a normal jump, which was a popular dance move
  39. bound a pitch above dull woe: i.e., muster any feeling but woe
  40. Sensitivity note: deformities is used here to mean "flaws." The diction displays ableism, and suggests that disabled folks need "fixing."
  41. Beetle-brows: Mercutio’s mask has beetle-brows (thick eyebrows)
  42. betake him to his legs: i.e., let’s start dancing
  43. wantons light of heart: i.e., carefree partygoers
  44. For I am proverbed with a grandsier phrase: i.e., I know an old proverb that applies here
  45. The game was never so fair, and I am done: i.e., it’s best to leave when the party is best
  46. Mercutio has interpreted “done” as dun: a reference to the game “Dun the horse is in the mire,” in which players would try to lift a large log from the mire (mud). He refers to the phrase “dun’s the mouse” (meaning “quiet as a mouse”), saying this is an appropriate saying for a useless policeman. Basically, he mocks Romeo for being mouselike and a stick-in-the-mud.
  47. save your reverence: a phrase used to replace a rude word
  48. Sensitivity note: lazy finger of a maid is inherently sexist and undermining to the hardworking women of the time period.
  49. Time out o’ mind: for as long as anyone can remember
  50. dream on curties straight: immediately dream about curtsies
  51. tithe-pig: to pay a tax to their church, people would often choose to pay one pig out of ten
  52. benefice: i.e., giving tax to a church
  53. healths five-fathoms deep: The soldier would dream of toasts (“healths”) that go on and on; basically, cups of alcohol that never run dry.
  54. This is that very Mab…which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes: Mab secretely tangles horses’ manes at night, which bring bad luck when untangled.
  55. Sensitivity note: Mercutio's description of Mab plays into the concept of "woman as myth," where men describe women as beings with bad intentions, such as the witch/the seductress/the Medusa. This mythological aura of women is a direct acknowledgement that men do not understand women, and instead of trying to recognize their ignorance they instead portray women as unknowable.
  56. marzipan: confection of crushed almonds or almond paste, sugar, and egg whites
  57. Susan Grindstone and Nell: his friends
  58. makes dainty: coyly refuses
  59. By’r Lady: an exclamation derived from the phrase “by our Lady”
  60. Sensitivity note: Ethiope is a shortening of "Ethiopian," which in the period written implies a Black person. The word evokes contrast: according to this language, rich jewelry stands out on a Black person's skin, as the moon against the night. This is an example of how language is used in an oppressive way without an overt statement of racism.
  61. rapier: a thin, sharp sword
  62. Sensitivity note: the word slave was probably meant as an insult to his class or as a way to say rascal. America, specifically the United States, has a very radicalized history of slavery; when this play was first performed, modern ideas of race were starting to develop and England was at the start of a long period of colonization and engagement in the Atlantic slave trade.
  63. lordful: lordly. Tybalt is being chastised for his presumptive attitude.
  64. the chinks: i.e., lots of money (“chink” being the sound of coins gathered together)


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