Romeo and Juliet Act 2 - Scene 5 Summary

Instructor: Lucy Barnhouse
This lesson summarizes Act 2, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's tragedy ''Romeo and Juliet.'' In the scene, the Nurse brings news of Romeo's intentions to the impatiently awaiting Juliet. The scene closes with Juliet's departure for her secret marriage.

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5

In this brief but significant scene towards the end of Act 2 of Romeo & Juliet, the Nurse brings Juliet the news that Romeo has arranged for them to be secretly married. Despite enforced secrecy--and in part because of it--Romeo and Juliet manage to get from expressing their mutual love to agreeing to get married in under 12 hours. Act 2 closes in the evening, at the friar's cell just before the lovers' ill-fated marriage. Scene 5, the next to last in the act, takes place shortly after noon.

Summary

Juliet and the Nurse
Wright, Juliet and the Nurse

This scene can be summarized in a single sentence: The Nurse finally returns to Juliet, who is impatiently waiting for news of Romeo's intentions towards her, and tells her young charge that Romeo will marry her. It's a relatively short scene, serving to establish one plot point: Romeo and Juliet can get married. Yay! Or, 'Hie to high fortune!' as Juliet delightedly exclaims.

In the opening lines of the scene, Juliet meditates on time, love, and how annoying old people can be sometimes. On its most basic level, Juliet's brief soliloquy establishes necessary information: she sent the Nurse to see Romeo at 9 a.m., and is still waiting for her three hours later. It also establishes Juliet's nervous state; in line 3, she worries 'Perhaps she cannot meet him--that's not so.' The conclusion of Juliet's speech brings an abrupt transition from the fanciful, light-hearted image of the Nurse as a ball, passed between the lovers in a game of words, to her complaint 'But old folks--many feign as they were dead; / Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.' This shift may seem jarring, but should surprise no one who has reread the embarrassing journal they kept when they were fourteen.

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