Arguably the most famous play ever written, William Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' tells the tale of two young lovers, whose families have a long-running feud between them. Both romantic and tragic, this masterpiece is laden with compelling dialogues and powerful soliloquies. Here are ten of the play's most popular quotes, along with matching contextual explanations.
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1. Romeo - Act II, Scene ii
While delivering this line, Romeo is standing in the Capulets' garden, watching Juliet on her balcony. When she rests her cheek on her hand, he yearns to be her glove so that he might finally touch her. Romeo had already met Juliet earlier that evening, but just couldn't keep himself apart from her for too long.
2. Juliet - Act II, Scene ii
When uttering this line, Juliet is applying a certain degree of logic to society's naming conventions. If you call a rose by a different name, it would still remain a rose, so why should human beings be any different? Why did she have to be born a Capulet, and why did Romeo have to be born to their rivals, the Montague family?
3. Romeo - Act V, Scene iii
When Paris blames Romeo for Juliet's 'death,' he challenges him to a duel. He utters this line in response, but Paris refuses to listen and ends up dying at Romeo's hands.
4. Juliet - Act II, Scene ii
Here, Juliet is thinking out loud, and is lamenting that fact that Romeo belongs to the Montague family, while she is a Capulet. Since their families have a history of violence, she wishes that he'll give up his family name, and if he doesn't, she swears to give up hers instead. Unbeknown to her, Romeo was actually eavesdropping on her, and as a result this scene sets much of the play's action into motion.
5. Romeo - Act I, Scene i
This famous definition of romantic love starts off by comparing love to smoke, that rises from the fume of sighs, meaning that just like fumes raise smoke, so too do the sighs of attraction raise love up. When the smoke is cleared it may cause a lover's eyes to sparkle, yet if it's stirred up, it could cause their eyes to fill with tears. This is Shakespeare's way of saying that love can be both a source of pleasure and of pain.
6. Juliet - Act II, Scene ii
In this iconic line, Juliet is saying that parting between lovers is beautiful because of the romantic moments you spend while doing it, but at the same time it is a sad event because of the separation, albeit temporary, that ultimately follows.
7. Juliet - Act III, Scene ii
Juliet utters this line while impatiently waiting for Romeo's arrival. She says that only when she's dead, will she share her lover's beauty with the whole world. For if Romeo is cut up into the sky's stars, his beauty will make the whole world forget about the sun and fall in love with the night.
8. Juliet - Act II, Scene ii
While in conversation with Romeo, Juliet wishes that their young love will have flourished by the time they meet again. By comparing their love to a bud, she is hoping that summer's ripening effect will transform their love into a beautiful flower.
9. Romeo - Act II, Scene ii
Romeo utters this line just as Juliet appears on her balcony. She is compared to the sun at dawn, as if she is just rising from the east.
10. Romeo - Act I, Scene v
When Romeo first sees Juliet dancing with a knight, he speaks this line in praise of her beauty. He found her so radiant that he felt her beauty could overpower the bright light of a torch.