THE PLAY

ACT 4

ACT 4, SCENE 1

Paris meets with Friar Lawrence, informing him that the wedding will be held on Thursday in a supposed attempt to soothe Juliet’s grief over murdered Tybalt. Juliet arrives for confession, and Paris attempts to pressure her into confessing her love for him. After Paris leaves, Juliet tells the Friar she is resolved to kill herself if he can offer no solution out of the impending marriage. The Friar offers her a plan: agree to the marriage, but drink a poison the night before that will make her appear dead while in reality leaving her asleep. The Friar will then send word to Romeo, who will return and rescue Juliet once she awakes in the family tomb. Juliet accepts.

Friar Lawrence’s cell in Verona:

Enter Friar Lawrence and County Paris

FRIAR LAWRENCE

On Thursday, sir? The time is very soon.

PARIS

My father Capulet will have it so,

And I am nothing slow to stall his haste.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

You say you do not know the Lady’s mind?

5Uneven is the course. I like it not.

PARIS

Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt’s death,

And therefore have I little talk of love,

For Venus[1] smiles not in a house of tears.

Now, sir, her father counts it dangerous

10That she doth give her sorrow so much sway;

And in his wisdom hastes our marriage

To stop the inundation of her tears,

Which, too much minded by herself alone,

May be put from her by society.[2]

15Now you do know the reason of this haste.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

[To himself] I would I knew not why it should be slowed.

[To PARIS] Look, sir, here comes the lady towards my cell.

Enter Juliet

PARIS

Happily met, my lady and my wife.

JULIET

That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.

PARIS

20That “may be” must be, love, on Thursday next.

JULIET

What must be shall be.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

truth

That’s a certain °.

PARIS

Come you to make confession to this father?

JULIET

To answer that, I would confess to you.

PARIS

25Do not deny to him that you love me.

JULIET

I will confess to you that I love him.

PARIS

So will ye – I am sure that you love me.

JULIET

If I do so, it will be of more worth

Being spoke behind your back than to your face.

PARIS

30Poor soul, thy face is much abused with tears.

JULIET

not much

The tears have got ° victory by that,

For it was bad enough before their spite.

PARIS

Thou wrong’st it more than tears, with that report.

JULIET

That is no slander, sir, when it’s a truth,

35And what I said, I said it to my face.

PARIS

Thy face is mine, and thou hast slandered it.

JULIET

It may be so, for it is not mine own. —

Are you at leisure, Holy Father, now,

Or shall I come to you at evening Mass?

FRIAR LAWRENCE

40My leisure serves me, somber daughter, now.

My lord, we must ask for this time alone.

PARIS

God shield I should disturb devotion!

Juliet, on Thursday early will I rouse you.

Till then, adieu, and keep this holy kiss.

He kisses her

Exit Paris

JULIET

45O, shut the door! And when thou hast done so,

Come weep with me – past hope, past care, past help.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

O Juliet, I already know thy grief;

It strains me past the compass of my wits.

I hear thou must – and nothing may postpone it –

50On Thursday next be married to the County.

JULIET

Tell me not, Friar, that thou hearest of this,

Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it:

If in thy wisdom thou canst give no help,

Do thou but call my resolution wise,

55And with this knife I’ll help it presently.

God joined my heart and Romeo’s, thou our hands.

And ere this hand – by thee to Romeo sealed –

Shall be the label to another deed,

Or my true heart with treacherous revolt

60Turn to another, this shall slay them both.

Therefore out of thy long-experienced time,

Give me some present counsel, or, behold,

‘Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife

Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that,

65Which the commission of thy years and art[3]

Could not to this issue true honor bring.

Be not so long to speak; I long to die

If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Hold, daughter! I do spy a kind of hope

70Which craves as desperate an execution

As that is desperate which we would prevent.

If rather than to marry County Paris

Thou hast the strength or will to slay thyself,

Then it is likely thou wilt undertake

75A thing like death to chide away this shame,

That copes with Death himself to ‘scape from it;

And, if thou darest, I’ll give thee remedy.

JULIET

O bid me leap – rather than marry Paris –

From off the battlements of any tower,

80Or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk

Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears

Or hide me nightly in a charnel house,[4]

entirely

O’ercovered ° with dead men’s rattling bones,

With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;[5]

85Or bid me go into a new-made grave

And hide me with a dead man in his tomb;

Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble,

And I will do it without fear or doubt

To keep myself a faithful unstained wife

90To my dear lord, my dearest Romeo.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Hold then: go home, be merry, give consent

To marry Paris. Wednesday is tomorrow.

Let not thy nurse lie with thee in thy chamber.

And when thou art alone, take thou this vial,

95And this distilling liquor drink thou off,

When presently through all thy veins shall run

A cold and drowsy humor; for no pulse

cease

Shall keep his native rhythm but °.

No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest;

100The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade

To many ashes. Thy eyes’ windows fall

Like Death when he shuts up the day of life;

Each part, deprived of supple government

Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death,

105And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death

Thou shalt continue two and forty hours

And then awake, as from a pleasant sleep.

Now when the bridegroom in the morning comes

To rouse thee from thy bed, there art thou dead;

110Then, as the manner of our country is,

coffin

In thy best robes uncovered on the °

Be borne to burial in thy kindred’s grave;

Thou shall be borne to that same ancient vault

Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie.

115In the meantime, by then thou shalt awake,

Shall Romeo by my letters know our plan,

And hither shall he come, and he and I

Will watch thy waking, and that very night

Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.

120And this shall free thee from this present shame,

If no inconstant toy nor womanish fear

lessen

° thy valor in the acting it.

JULIET

Give me, give me! O, tell not me of fear!

He gives her the vial

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Hold! Get you gone, be strong and prosperous

125In this resolve. I’ll send a Friar with speed

To Mantua with my letters to thy lord.

JULIET

Love give me strength, and strength shall help afford.

Farewell, dear Father.

Exit all

❖❖❖

ACT 4, SCENE 2

Juliet returns to find her family preparing for the wedding. Repentant, she asks for forgiveness and agrees to marry Paris. Lord Capulet, in his excitement, decides to advance the ceremony from Thursday to Wednesday (tomorrow). Ignoring his wife’s protests, he instructs her to be with Juliet while he finishes preparations and sends word to Paris of the changed itinerary.

Somewhere within the Capulet estate:

Enter Capulet, Lady capulet, Nurse, and Servingmen

CAPULET

So many guests invite as here are writ.

Gives a list to a SERVANT, who then exits.

Sirrah, go hire me twenty cunning cooks.

SERVINGMAN

unskilled

You shall have none °, sir, for I’ll test if they will lick their fingers.

CAPULET

How canst thou test them so?

SERVINGMAN

5Marry sir, ‘tis an ill cook that will not lick his own fingers:

Therefore he that will not lick his fingers goes not with me.

CAPULET

Go, be gone.

Exit Servingman

unprepared

We shall be much ° for this time.

What, is my daughter gone to Friar Lawrence?

NURSE

10Aye, forsooth.

CAPULET

Well he may chance to do some good on her.

unprincipled behavior

A peevish, self-willed ° it is.

Enter Juliet

LADY CAPULET

See, here she commeth from confession.

CAPULET

How now, my headstrong?

wandering

15Where have you been °?

JULIET

Where I have learnt me to repent the sin

Of disobedient opposition

compelled

To you and your behests, and am °

By holy Lawrence to fall prostrate here [Juliet kneels]

20To beg your pardon. Pardon, I beseech you!

Henceforward I am ever ruled by you.

CAPULET

Now before God, this holy reverend Friar,

indebted

All our whole city is much ° to him!

Send for the County. Go tell him of this.

25I’ll have this knot knit up tomorrow morning.[6]

JULIET

I met the youthful lord at Lawrence’s cell,

And gave him what becomed love I might,

Not stepping o’er the bounds of modesty.

CAPULET

Why, I am glad on’t. This is well. Stand up.

30This is as’t should be. Let me see the County.

Aye, marry, go I say, and fetch him hither.

JULIET rises

JULIET

Nurse, will you go with me into my closet

To help me sort such needful ornaments

As you think fit to furnish me tomorrow?

LADY CAPULET

35No, not till Thursday. There’s time enough.

CAPULET

Go, Nurse, go with her.

We’ll to church tomorrow.

Exit Juliet and Nurse

LADY CAPULET

Methinks on Thursday would be time enough.

CAPULET

I say I will have this dispatched tomorrow.

LADY CAPULET

40I pray, my Lord, let it be Thursday.

CAPULET

I say tomorrow while she’s in the mood.

LADY CAPULET

food and drink

We shall be short in our °.

‘Tis now near night.

CAPULET

Tush, I will stir about.

45And all things shall be well, I warrant thee, wife.

dress

Go thou to Juliet, help to ° her up.

I’ll not to bed tonight. Let me alone;

I’ll play the housewife for this once.— [calls servants] What ho?

gone

They are all °.— Well, I will walk myself

50To County Paris, to prepare up him

Against tomorrow. My heart is wondrous light

Since this same wayward girl is so reclaimed.

Exit all

❖❖❖

ACT 4, SCENE 3

Juliet sends the nurse and Lady Capulet from her bedroom on the pretext of getting rest. She then experiences a series of doubts about the plan: what if the poison doesn’t work? What if the Friar actually intends to kill her to preserve the sanctity of her first marriage? What if she wakes up too early and suffocates? What if waking in the tomb will drive her insane? She rebuts most of these fears and drinks the poison, falling into a death-like trance.

Juliet’s chambers within the Capulet estate:

Enter JULIET and NURSE

JULIET

Aye, those attires are best; but gentle Nurse

I pray thee leave me to myself tonight

prayers

For I have need of many °

To move the heavens to smile upon my state,

5Which, well thou know’st, is cross and full of sin.

Enter LADY CAPULET

LADY CAPULET

What, are you busy – do you need my help?

JULIET

selected

No, madam, we have ° such necessaries

necessary

As are ° for our state tomorrow.

So please you, let me now be left alone;

10And let the Nurse this night sit up with you,

For I am sure you have your hands full all

In this so sudden business.

LADY CAPULET

Goodnight.

Get thee to bed and rest, for thou hast need.

Exit NURSE and LADY CAPULET

JULIET

15Farewell:

God knows when we shall meet again.

I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins,

That almost freezes up the heat of life.

I’ll call them back again to comfort me.—

20Nurse!—What should she do here?

My dismal scene I needs must act alone.

Come, vial.

Takes out vial.

What if this mixture should not work at all?

Shall I be married then tomorrow morning?

25No, no, this shall forbid it.

Takes out knife.

 Lie thou there.

What if it be a poison, which the Friar

Subtly hath ministered to have me dead,

Lest in this marriage he should be dishonored,

Because he married me before to Romeo?

30I fear it is. And yet methinks it should not,

For he hath still been tried a holy man.

How, if when I am laid into the tomb,

I wake before the time that Romeo

Comes to redeem me? There’s a fearful point:

suffocated

35Shall I not then be ° in the vault,

To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in,

And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes?

likely

Or, if I live, is it not very °

notion; idea

The horrible ° of death and night,

40Together with the terror of the place—

As in the vault, an ancient receptacle

Where for these many hundred years the bones

Of all my buried ancestors are packed:

Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,[7]

45Lies festering in his shroud; where, as they say,

haunt

At some hours in the night spirits °.

Alack, alack, is it not like that I

In early waking, what with loathsome smells,

And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth,[8]

50That living mortals hearing them run mad—

O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught,

surrounded; buried

° with all these hideous fears,

And madly play with my forefathers’ joints?

And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud?

55And, in this rage, with some great kinsman’s bone,

As with a club, dash out my desperate brains?

O look, methinks I see my cousin’s ghost,

impale

Seeking out Romeo that did ° his body

Upon a rapier’s point. Stay, Tybalt, stay!

60Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here’s drink; I drink to thee.

She drinks and falls upon her bed within the curtains.

❖❖❖

ACT 4, SCENE 4

The Capulets work through the night in preparation. Hearing Paris’ arrival, Lord Capulet tells the Nurse to wake Juliet.

 Somewhere within the Capulet estate:

Enter LADY CAPULET and NURSE

LADY CAPULET

Hold, take these keys and fetch more spices, Nurse.

NURSE

fruit

They call for dates and ° in the pastry.[9]

Enter CAPULET

CAPULET

Come, stir, stir, stir! The second cock hath crowed;[10]

The curfew bell hath rung. ‘Tis three o’clock:

5Look to the baked meats, good Angelica,

Spare not for cost.

NURSE

Go, you cotquean,[11] go,

Get you to bed. Faith, you’ll be sick tomorrow

For this night’s watching.

CAPULET

10No, not a whit. What! I have watched ere now

All night for lesser cause, and ne’er been sick.

LADY CAPULET

a ladies’ man

Aye, you have been a ° in your time,

But I will watch you from such watching now.

 Exit LADY CAPULET and NURSE

CAPULET

A jealous-hood, a jealous-hood! Now, fellow, what is there?

Enter three or four SERVINGMEN with spits, logs, and baskets

FELLOW

15Things for the cook, sir, but I know not what.

CAPULET

Make haste, make haste, sirrah! Fetch drier logs.

Call Peter; he will show thee where they are.

FELLOW 

I have a head sir, that will find out logs,

And never trouble Peter for the matter.

CAPULET

20Mass, and well said. A merry whoreson,[12] ha!

Thou shalt be loggerhead.[13]—Good Father, ‘tis day.

 Play music

The County will be here with music soon,

For so he said he would. I hear him near.

Nurse! Wife! What ho! What, Nurse, I say!

 Enter NURSE

25Go waken Juliet, go trim her up,

I’ll go and chat with Paris. Hie, make haste,

Make haste. The bridegroom: he is come already.

Make haste, I say!

 Exit all but NURSE

❖❖❖

ACT 4, SCENE 5

The Nurse enters Juliet’s bedroom, assuming her to be asleep, but then discovers her to be (apparently) dead. Lady Capulet, Lord Capulet, Paris, and Friar Lawrence arrive consecutively and grieve at seeing Juliet in her current state. The Friar reassures the family that Juliet is surely well in heaven and urges them to bring her to church to begin the funeral rites. After they leave, musicians hired for the wedding linger, and, unconcerned by the day’s events, joke and banter about music before making their exit.

Juliet’s chambers within the Capulet estate:

 Enter NURSE

NURSE

fast asleep

Mistress? What, mistress? Juliet? °, I warrant her, she.

sleepyhead

Why, lamb! Why, lady! Fie, you °!

Why, love, I say! Madam, sweetheart! Why, bride!

money’s worth

What, not a word? You take your ° now,

5Sleep for a week, for the next night I warrant

The County Paris hath set up his rest[14]

That you shall rest but little.—God forgive me.

Marry and Amen! How sound is she asleep.

I must needs wake her.—Madam, madam, madam!

10Aye, let the County take you in your bed;

He’ll fright you up, i’faith. Will it not be?

What, dressed and in your clothes and down again?

I must needs wake you. Lady, lady, lady!

Alas, alas! Help, help! My lady’s dead!

woe the day

15O ° that ever I was born!

Some aqua-vitae, ho! My lord, my lady!

Enter LADY CAPULET

LADY CAPULET

What noise is here?

NURSE

O lamentable day!

LADY CAPULET

What is the matter?

NURSE

20Look, look! O heavy day!

LADY CAPULET

O me, O me! My child, my only life!

Revive, look up, or I will die with thee!

Help, help! Call help!

Enter CAPULET

CAPULET 

For shame, bring Juliet forth. Her Lord is come.

NURSE

25She’s dead, deceased, she’s dead. Alack the day!

LADY CAPULET

Alack the day! She’s dead, she’s dead, she’s dead.

CAPULET 

Ha! Let me see her. Out, alas—she’s cold!

Her blood is settled, and her joints are stiff;

Life and these lips have long been separated.

30Death lies on her like an untimely frost

Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.

NURSE

O lamentable day!

LADY CAPULET

O woeful time!

CAPULET

Death, that hath ta’en her hence to make me wail,

35Ties up my tongue and will not let me speak.

Enter FRIAR LAWRENCE and PARIS with MUSICIANS

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Come, is the bride ready to go to church?

CAPULET

Ready to go, but never to return.

O son, the night before thy wedding day

Hath Death lain with thy wife. There she lies,

40Flower as she was, deflowered by him.

Death is my son-in-law; Death is my heir.

My daughter he hath wedded. I will die

And leave him all life living. All is Death’s.

PARIS

Have I thought long to see this morning’s face,

45And doth it give me such a sight as this?

LADY CAPULET

Accursed, unhappy, wretched, hateful day!

Most miserable hour that e’er time saw

In lasting labor of his pilgrimage.[15]

But one, poor one, one poor and loving child,

50But one thing to rejoice and solace in,

And cruel Death hath catched it from my sight.

NURSE

O woe, O woeful, woeful, woeful day!

Most lamentable day, most woeful day

That ever, ever I did yet behold.

55O day, O day, O day, O hateful day,

Never was seen so black a day as this:

O woeful day, O woeful day!

PARIS

Beguiled, divorcèd, wrongèd, spited, slain!

Most detestable Death, by thee beguiled,

60By cruel, cruel thee quite overthrown.

O love, O life; not life, but love in death.

CAPULET

Despised, distressèd, hated, martyred, killed!

Uncomfortable time, why cam’st thou now

To murder, murder our solemnity?

65O child, O child, my soul and not my child!

Dead art thou! Alack, my child is dead,

And with my child, my joys are burièd.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Peace, ho! For shame, confusion’s cares lies not

yelling; commotion

In these °. Heaven and yourself

70Had part in this fair maid.[16] Now heaven hath all,

And all the better it is for the maid.

Your part in her, you could not keep from Death,

But heaven keeps his part in eternal life.

The most you sought was her promotion,

75For ‘twas your heaven she should be advanced.

And weep ye now, seeing she is advanced

Above the clouds, as high as heaven itself.

O in this love, you love your child so ill

That you run mad seeing that she is well.

80She’s not well married that lives married long,

But she’s best married that dies married young.

Dry up your tears and stick your rosemary[17]

On this fair corpse, and, as the custom is,

attire

In all her best ° bear her to Church.

85For though some nature bids us all lament,

Yet nature’s tears are reason’s merriment.

CAPULET

All things that we ordained festival

Turn from their office to black funeral.

Our instruments to melancholy bells,

90Our wedding cheer to sad burial feast,

songs of lamentation

Our solemn hymns to sullen ° change,

Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corpse,

And all things change them to the contrary.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Sir, go you in, and madam, go with him;

95And go, sir Paris. Every one prepare

To follow this fair corpse unto her grave.

The heavens do frown upon you for some ill;

Move them no more, by crossing their high will.

Exit all but NURSE and MUSICIANS

FIRST MUSICIAN

Faith, we may put up our pipes[18] and be gone.

NURSE

100Honest good fellows, ah, put up, put up!

For well you know, this is a pitiful case.

FIRST MUSICIAN

Aye, by my troth, the case may be amended.[19]

Exit NURSE 

Enter PETER

PETER

Musicians, O musicians! “Heart’s Ease,” “Heart’s Ease.”[20]

O, an you will have me live, play “Heart’s Ease.”

FIRST MUSICIAN

105Why “Heart’s Ease?”

PETER

O musicians, because my heart itself plays “My heart is full of

sad song

woe.” O play me some merry ° to comfort me.

FIRST MUSICIAN

Not a dump, no—’tis no time to play now.

PETER

You will not then?

FIRST MUSICIAN

110No.

PETER

I will then give it you soundly.

FIRST MUSICIAN

What will you give us?

PETER

insult
name

No money, on my faith, but the °. I will ° you the

minstrel.[21]

FIRST MUSICIAN

115Then will I give you the serving-creature.[22]

PETER

head

Then will I lay the serving-creature’s daggers on your °. I will

a musical note

carry no °; I’ll re you, I’ll fa you.[23] Do you note me?

FIRST MUSICIAN

If you re us and you fa us, you’ll note us.

SECOND MUSICIAN

Pray you put up your dagger, and put out your wit. Then have at

120you with my wit.

PETER

thrash

I will ° you with an iron wit and put up my iron dagger.

Answer me like men:

[Sings] When griping griefs the heart doth wound,

And doleful dumps the mind oppress,

125  Then music with her silver sound—

Why “silver sound?” Why “music with her silver sound?”

What say you, Simon Catling?[24]

FIRST MUSICIAN

Marry, sir, because silver hath a sweet sound.

PETER

a stupid answer

°! What say you, Hugh Rebeck?[25]

SECOND MUSICIAN

130I say “silver sound” because musicians sound for silver.[26]

PETER

Prates too! What say you, James Sound-Post?[27]

THIRD MUSICIAN

Faith, I know not what to say.

PETER

O, I cry you mercy![28] You are the singer. I will say for you: It is

“music with her silver sound” because musicians have no gold for

135sounding.

[Sings] Then Music with her silver sound

relief

With speedy help doth lend °.

Farewell, fiddlers! Farewell!

Exit PETER

FIRST MUSICIAN

What a pestilent knave is this man!

SECOND MUSICIAN

140Hang him, Jack. Come, we’ll in here, tarry for the mourners, and

stay dinner.[29]

Exit all


  1. Venus a mythical goddess often representing love
  2. May be put from her by society: Paris is saying that with company, she might cry less
  3. the commission of thy years and art: the authority of your age and skills
  4. Charnel house: structure that stores burial remains
  5. reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls: smelly bones and jawless skulls
  6. this knot knit up tomorrow morning: this means Juliet will be married in the morning, a day earlier than planned.
  7. yet but green in earth: freshly buried
  8. mandrakes: plants whose roots grow in a humanlike shape and, according to legend, shriek when torn from the ground.
  9. pastry: pastry-making room
  10. The second cock hath crowed: tradition had it that the cock crows first at midnight, then at 3AM, and then an hour before the sun rises
  11. cotquean: here, a man doing women’s work or displaying womanish tendencies.
  12. A merry whoreson: i.e., he’s a funny son of a whore
  13. loggerhead: could mean blockhead; could also mean having a big head (out of proportion to the body)
  14. hath set up his rest: has resolved
  15. lasting labor of his pilgrimage:  i.e., in all his days
  16. had part in this fair maid: i.e., were alive in her
  17. rosemary: the herb was sometimes used in funeral ceremonies
  18. put up our pipes: Pipe instruments were traditionally used at weddings; “put up” here means “put away.”
  19. the case may be amended: referring to either the case of Juliet’s death, or his instrument case
  20. “Heart’s Ease”: a popular song at the time.
  21. the minstrel: insulting term for “musician”
  22. the serving-creature: insulting term for “servant”
  23. I’ll re you, I’ll fa you: Re and fa are both names of musical notes
  24. Catling: a string used for instruments
  25. Rebeck: a bowed instrument
  26. sound for silver: i.e., make sound for money
  27. Sound-Post: a small component used in violins and other similar instruments.“
  28. cry you mercy: beg your pardon
  29. stay dinner: wait for dinner

License

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Romeo and Juliet by Rebecca Olson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.