Filmsite Movie Review
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Act II, Scene 1:

Juliet is by the fountain in the garden of the Capulet residence when the Nurse calls for her. Romeo's reveler friends, Benvolio and Mercutio search for their love-sick pal, invoking no response from their derisive comments: "He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth...not. The ape is dead." Calls of "Romeo" and "Juliet" intermingle in the night air. Romeo scales the garden wall surrounding the Capulets to duck away from his comrades and to find some solitude, while listening to them from an orchard tree. He mutters to himself about Mercutio ("He jests at scars that never felt a wound") and the newest set of wounds which he must himself endure.

Act II, Scene 2:

From the Capulet garden, Romeo sees Juliet upon her balcony in front of her illuminated windows - at the start of the famous balcony scene. He delivers his oft-quoted soliloquy (speech to himself), wishing that he could tell her that she is his love. Enraptured, he compares her eyes to twinkling stars:

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? is my lady, oh, it is my love. O that she knew she were. She speaks, yet she says nothing; what of that? Her eye discourses, I will answer it. Oh, I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks. Two of the fairest stars in all the heavens, having some business, do entreat her eyes to twinkle in their spheres till they return. See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek.

Juliet stretches her arms, sighs: "Ah, me!", and then speaks from her mournful, emotion-filled heart. In declaring her open love, she considers whether Romeo would give up his name - the label that is her real enemy. She also wonders if she could deny or give up her own name - possibly by marriage to him:

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...'Tis but thy name that is my enemy, thou art thyself, though, not a Montague. What is Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O be some other name. What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee, take all myself. (She embraces herself.)

Romeo blurts out that he will renounce his name: "I take thee at thy word! Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; henceforth, I never will be Romeo," startling her from her reverie. He pushes the leaves aside and she sees him, but cannot identify him. She gasps at the intruder: "What man art thou, that thus bescreened in night so stumblest on my counsel?" But because he has already given up his name for her, he cannot tell her his name: "By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am. My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word."

Fleeing for the safety of her room, she turns back because she recognizes his voice: "My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words of that tongue's utterance, yet I know the sound. Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?" He replies that he is not Romeo nor Montague if she dislikes either name. She fears for his safety in the garden, but he is undaunted by the high walls - he fears more the hostility from her eyes than the swords of her kinsmen:

Juliet: How cam'st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore? The orchard walls are high and hard to climb, and the place death, considering who thou art, if any of my kinsmen find thee here.
Romeo: With love's light wings did I o'er perch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out, and what love can do, that dares love attempt. Therefore, thy kinsmen are no stop to me.
Juliet: Sshhh! If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
Romeo: I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes, and but thou love me let them find me here. My life were better ended by their hate, than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.

She first asks if he will swear that he loves her. Fearing that she was too forward and "too quickly won," she promises to deny her strong, profuse feelings of love so that he may woo her more formally. She admits that she should have been more restrained about confiding her "true love's passion" but her love is innocent and true. Romeo swears his love for her by the moon, but Juliet doesn't want a variable love characterized by the changing phases of the "circled orb." She only wants him to "swear by thy gracious self."

Juliet: Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say 'Ay,' and I will take thy word; yet if thou swearest, thou mayst prove false; at lovers' perjuries they say Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo, if thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully. (He climbs a tree next to her balcony) Or if thou thinkest I am too quickly won, I'll frown and be perverse, and say thee nay, so thou wilt woo, but else not for the world. In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond. (He jumps and hangs onto her balcony) And therefore thou mayst think my behavior light.
Romeo: No.
Juliet: But trust me gentleman, I'll prove more true than those that have more cunning to be strange. I should have been more strange, I must confess, but that thou overheard'st, ere I was ware, my true love's passion; therefore pardon me, and not impute this yielding to light love, which the dark night hath so discovered.
Romeo: Lady, by yonder blessed moon, I swear.
Juliet: Oh, swear not by the moon. Th' inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
Romeo: What shall I swear by?
Juliet: Do not swear at all. Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry, and I'll believe thee.
Romeo: If my heart's dear love, I swear, oh, Juliet. (They hug and kiss passionately)

Juliet wishes to say good night, so that the bud of their blossoming love will have time to bloom and grow into a "beauteous flower," but Romeo wishes for her to remain a bit longer so they can exchange love vows. However, she pleads that she has already given her vows from her boundless bounty:

Juliet: Sweet, good night. This bud of love by summer's ripening breath may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet. (She kisses him goodnight) Good night, good night. As sweet repose and rest come to thy heart as that within my breast.
Romeo: O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?
Romeo: Th' exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine.
Juliet: I gave thee mine before thou didst request it. And yet I would it were to give again.
Romeo: Wouldst thou withdraw it? For what purpose, love? (They join hands)
Juliet: But to be frank and give it thee again (They rush into each other's arms and hug) and yet I wish but for the thing I have, my bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.

When the Nurse calls for Juliet, she can't bear to leave him, so she asks for him to "stay but a little, I will come again." While she is gone, Romeo fears the fleeting, dream-like quality of their love and speaks to the night, both blessing it and fearing it: "O blessed, blessed night! I am afeard, being in night, all this is but a dream, too flattering-sweet to be substantial." After rushing back to the balcony, Juliet whispers in a hasty tone that if Romeo wishes marriage, he should send word (of where and when) the next day by her messenger. If he is not interested in marriage, he should leave her alone:

If that thy bent of love be honorable...thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow, by one that I'll procure to come to thee. Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite, and all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay and follow thee my lord throughout the world...But if thou meanest not well, I do beseech cease thy suit and leave me to my grief. Tomorrow will I send.

She bids him goodnight: "A thousand times good night!", kisses his hand, and begins to withdraw. He drops from the tree. She stops again, and asks what time she should send her messenger: "At what o'clock tomorrow shall I send to thee?" He replies: "At the hour of nine." As she leaves, she calls him again and then forgets why she called him back. Romeo laughs at her forgetfulness. They both cannot bear to part and linger together for a few remaining moments:

Romeo: Let me stand here till thou remember it.
Juliet: I shall forget, to have thee still stand there, remembering how I love thy company.
Romeo: And I'll still stay, to have thee still forget, forgetting any other home but this.
Juliet: (He climbs the tree one more time to kiss her. They are still kissing as the early morning dawns and the cock crows. He slips down from the balcony - they extend their hands out to each other.) Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.

Act II, Scene 3:

Romeo rushes to the garden of the churchyard to speak with Friar Laurence (Milo O'Shea). The priest, an herbalist, is gathering herbs in the early morning hours, and is surprised to see the high-spirited youth so early after a sleepless night: "Young son, it argues a distempered head so soon to bid good morrow to thy bed. Therefore thy earliness doth me assure thou art uproused with some distemperature." The impetuous Romeo informs the priest/confessor that he hasn't been to bed at all although "the sweeter rest was mine." Yet his night was not spent with Rosaline: "I have forgot that name and that name's woe." He "riddles" the priest by mentioning he has been with his enemy, and both have suffered mutual wounds of love. They may be healed by their immediate marriage:

I have been feasting with mine enemy, where on a sudden one hath wounded me...then plainly know my heart's dear love is set on the fair daughter of rich Capulet. As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine, and all combined, save what thou must combine by holy marriage. When, and where, and how we met, we woo'd, and made exchange of vow, I'll tell thee as we pass. But this I pray, that thou consent to marry us today.

The priest chides the elated, "young waverer" Romeo for his sudden change of love object, after seeing the boy cry salty tears for Rosaline just the other day. ("What a deal of brine hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline! And art thou changed?") While he had encouraged Romeo to bury his former love, he didn't intend for another love to sprout out of the grave so quickly. ("Not in a grave to lay one in, another out to have.") The friar agrees to the marriage that may end the feud between the warring clans - it may establish an alliance between the Montagues and Capulets, but he also cautions Romeo to move less hastily and urgently:

Friar Laurence: For this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households' rancor to pure love.
Romeo: O, let us hence! I stand on sudden haste.
Friar Laurence: Shhh! Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast.

Act II, Scene 4:

On a balcony, Mercutio and Benvolio wonder about the whereabouts of Romeo since he hasn't been home. As a result of Romeo's unwelcome appearance at the Capulet party, Tybalt has challenged Romeo (through "a letter to his father's house") to a duel. Benvolio believes Romeo "will answer it" - with both a letter and a counter-dare: "He will answer the letter's master, how he dares, being dared." Mercutio thinks that Romeo is "already dead," slain by Rosaline's eyes, a love song, and Cupid's arrow, and the love-sick lad is probably not manly enough to fight Tybalt ("Prince of Cats") with his skillful swordsmanship:

Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead; stabbed with a white wench's black eye; run through the ear with a love song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft.

Romeo appears and they rib him for slipping away from them the previous evening: "You gave us the counterfeit fairly last night, sir...the slip sir, the slip, can you not conceive?" Now in a loving, playful, and happy mood, Romeo returns their punning conversation with his own word-play and witticisms:

Ah, Pardon good Mercutio, my business was great, and in such case as mine a man may strain courtesy...Thy wit is very bitter sweeting, it is most sharp sauce.

With sexual punning, Mercutio is pleased that Romeo has returned to reality and his former, true, free-spirited self - with a sense of humor:

Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo; now art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature. For this drivelling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble...

In the town square, they spy Juliet's Nurse, with her servant Peter (Roy Holder) struggling to hold up her veil - they cry out: "A sail, a sail." In her role as a messenger for Juliet, she adopts the airs of a well-bred lady by discreetly holding a fan up in front of her face. [The Nurse is Juliet's realistic, baser counterpart as Mercutio is Romeo's counterpart.] Mercutio mocks the idea of her use of a fan " hide her face, for her fan's the fairer of the two." As they make fun of her, he also greets her as a "fair gentlewoman" but immediately offends her with a bawdy joke about the time of day: "...the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon." She asks to "find young Romeo..I desire some conference..." Before they leave her alone with Romeo, they jeer at her and play tricks, and Mercutio sings a word-play song that compares the Nurse to an aging, undesirable prostitute and "ancient lady":

An old hare hoar, and an old hare hoar is very good meat, in Lent.
But a hare that is hoar is too much for a score, when it hoars ere it be spent.

She sends the carousing rogues on their way, calling Mercutio a "scurvy knave" and "saucy merchant...that was so full of his property." She kicks her servant Peter for not helping to defend her: "And thou must stand by too and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure."

The Nurse enters into the sanctity of the church where a male choir sings, and Romeo follows. She first warns that Romeo had better be true to Juliet: "...if ye should lead her in a fool's they say, t'were a very gross kind of behavior; for the gentlewoman is young; and therefore if you should deal double with her, t'were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing." Romeo protests by telling the Nurse that he hopes to meet and marry Juliet "this Friar Laurence's cell." Before the Nurse leaves to deliver the message, she pulls Romeo onto her lap and chatters about the proposed marriage of Paris to Juliet, mentioning that Juliet turns angry when she teases and says "that Paris is the properer man." The Nurse promises to commend Romeo to Juliet "a thousand times."

Act II, Scene 5:

Urgently impatient, Juliet waits for the Nurse in her father's orchard garden. Now that the old Nurse hasn't returned for three long hours, she is frenzied that her "unwieldy, slow, heavy" nurse is too old to deliver her passionate news to Romeo. If only her message of love had traveled with the speed of her own thoughts:

The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse, in half an hour she promised to return, perchance she cannot meet him; aah, that's not so. Oh, she's lame, love's heralds should be thoughts! Had she affections and warm youthful blood she would be as swift in motion as a ball. But old folks, many feign as they were dead, unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.

When the Nurse appears, she teases Juliet by stalling, groaning and complaining about her bodily aches, pains, and weary joints. Unsympathetic, Juliet wishes she would hurry up and tell her: "What says my love?" Irritated, she grabs onto the Nurse to have her more quickly divulge her news. The Nurse praises her choice of man as honest, courteous, kind, handsome, and virtuous, but then changes the subject and asks about the whereabouts of Lady Capulet: "Where is your mother?" to further aggravate Juliet. She asks: "Are you so hot?" and wishes that Juliet would show some attention to her age: "Is this the poultice for my aching bones?" Finally, the Nurse describes the plans for their marriage:

Then, hie you hence to Friar Laurence's cell, there stays a husband to make you a wife. (Juliet laughs and hugs her Nurse) Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks. They'll be in scarlet straight at any news. Hie you to church!

Ecstatic and joyful, Juliet departs for the church.

Act II, Scene 6:

As they wait, Friar Laurence is in his cell with Romeo, discussing the impending marriage. The priest petitions that the heavens smile upon their marriage so that afterwards, it will not be sorrowful: "So smile the heavens upon this holy act, that after-hours with sorrow chide us not." Romeo speaks of the momentous "exchange of joy" that he experiences with her: "But come what sorrow can, it cannot countervail the exchange of joy that one short minute gives me in her sight." Knowing that passionate, romantic love may be too intense and die prematurely - consuming itself after a brief flame, the Friar cautions Romeo to be moderate so that their love may last longer:

These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which as they kiss consume...Therefore, love moderately. Long love doth so.

He hears the "so light a foot" approach of Juliet, and the two lovers rush to embrace each other. Romeo speaks lovingly of the mutual joy that they share - she answers that her own love is so full that she cannot add up half of its wealth:

Romeo: If the measure of thy joy be heaped like mine that thy skill be more to blazon it, then sweeten with thy breath this neighbor air.
Juliet: They are but beggars that can count their worth. But my true love is grown to such excess I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.

Realizing he cannot keep them apart any longer ("Come, come with me, and we will make short work. For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone till holy Church incorporate two in one"), the Friar brings them together at the altar, where they kneel. A boy soprano sings their wedding song. [The film's Intermission is placed here.]

Act III, Scene 1:

On the hot afternoon following the wedding, Benvolio and Mercutio walk in the square. Peace-loving Benvolio fears that the hot weather will stimulate another brawl and suggests that they retire: "The day is hot; the Capulets abroad; and if we meet we shall not 'scape a brawl for now these hot days, is the mad blood stirring." Quarrelsome and irritable, Mercutio jests with his friend, suggesting that Benvolio may actually want a fight, provoked by petty excuses: "And thou wilt tutor me from quarreling. Hah!" Just then, Tybalt and other Capulets appear into view. Mercutio shows no care, and sits down in the water fountain to cool off. With a profound dislike for Tybalt, Mercutio taunts him by playfully challenging him to a fight ("a blow"):

Tybalt: A word with one of you.
Mercutio: And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow.

Tybalt uses the "occasion" to make a derogatory comment and accuse Mercutio of consorting with Romeo. Mercutio pretends that Tybalt has called them "minstrels" and draws his sword (with a reference to a fiddler drawing his bow to produce discordant music):

Consort? What dost thou make us minstrels? An you make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords. Here's my fiddlestick. Here's that shall make you dance. Zounds! Consort!

Benvolio intervenes, hoping that the two would either go to a less public place, talk more rationally, or leave altogether: "We talk here in the public haunt of men. Either withdraw into some private place, or reason coldly of your grievances, or else depart." Mercutio refuses to "budge for no man's pleasure, I." When newly-married Romeo arrives at the top of the steps and approaches, Tybalt is pleased to see his real enemy: "Here comes my man," and insults him to provoke a duel: "Thou art a villain." Romeo is beyond mere name-calling, and expresses his all-embracing, perplexing love for his new cousin and the Capulets:

Romeo: Tybalt, the reason as I have to love thee doth much excuse the appertaining rage to such a greeting - villain am I none. Therefore farewell, I see thou knowest me not.
Tybalt: Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw.
Romeo: I do protest I never injured thee, but love thee better than thou canst devise, till thou shalt know the reason of my love. And so, good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as mine own, be satisfied.

Thinking that a weakened, unmanly Romeo has succumbed to Tybalt because of his love for Rosaline, Mercutio emerges from the fountain, livid that the love-sick Romeo has submitted: "O calm, dishonorable, vile submission!" Referring to Tybalt's appellation as the Prince of Cats, he retaliates and calls Tybalt a "ratcatcher," draws his sword, and threatens to take one of his nine lives: "Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives, that I mean to make bold withal and as you shall use me hereafter drybeat the rest of the eight." Romeo pleads for all to put away their weapons but is ignored and called a "coward."

As Romeo grabs Mercutio, trying his best to bring the feuding and swordplay to an end, he blocks one of Mercutio's parries and Tybalt's blade stabs Mercutio under his arm in the chest. Tybalt withdraws his sword - the tip is covered in blood. As Tybalt flees with his followers, Mercutio groans and clutches his side, claiming that he is "hurt," but it is only a cat's "scratch." However it is a fatal wound - the effects of which will be felt "on both your houses":

No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but tis enough; you ask for me tomorrow; and you shall find me a grave man. Where is my page? Go villain, and fetch me a surgeon. Fetch me a surgeon! (To Romeo) Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm...Help me into some house, Benvolio, or I shall faint. (He stumbles up the steps of the church) A plague on both your houses! They've made worms' meat of me. I have it, and soundly too, your houses! (He falls dead)

Stunned by his complicity in the death of his friend, Romeo realizes the blackness of the day, the dark fate which faces him, and the need to avenge Mercutio's death, although that will mean casting "away to heaven respective lenity." He rises from Mercutio's body, enraged and ready to accept the burden of vengeance:

This day's black fate, on more days doth depend; this but begins the woe others must end. He gone in triumph! And Mercutio slain! Away to heaven, respective lenity, fire and fury be my conduct now.

Taking a bloody cloth from Mercutio's slain figure, Romeo rushes after Tybalt and his men and confronts him:

Now, Tybalt, take the villain back again, that late thou gav'st me. Mercutio's soul is but a little way above our heads, staying for thine to keep him company: Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.

Romeo is given swords to fight before his desperate duel with Tybalt. When he loses his sword, he retreats back to the town's square. After rolling around on the ground and wrestling his opponent, Romeo rises and is given a sword, just in time to slay Tybalt as he is attacked. Now that the "citizens are up," Benvolio cries for Romeo to "away, be gone...Stand not amazed, the Prince will doom thee death, if thou art taken. Hence, begone. Away, Romeo!" The Prince's penalty for death is death, so Romeo must flee, knowing: "Oh, I am fortune's fool!"

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