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Biography and Historical Background
William Shakespeare (c. 1564–1616), is the most famous English playwright, who is considered as one of the greatest influences on English literature. He was born in 1564 in Stratford. His education was not very imposing as he attended the grammar school and lack of evidence suggests that he had never attended the university. His marriage with 8 years older Anne Hathaway in 1582 at the age of 18 and the early fatherhood was the first important episode in his life. For reasons unknown he abandoned his and family in 1588 and he moved to London, where he lived for 25 years and where he began his career as an actor in the theatre. He belonged to the Chamberlain’s Men playing company — a group of actors who performed plays in the theatres. After the death of Queen Elizabeth, the name of the company was changed into the King’s Men because of the succession of King James. In this time he wrote most of his works, especially tragedies: Macbeth, Othello, King Lear. At the midst of his career his works were published and sold, which made him extremely popular. His success allowed him to purchase the New Place as his family home in Stratford. During the years of his great success he also suffered his son’s death in 1596 but his career continued and in 1599 he built the Globe Theatre together with his company’s partners. His 154 sonnets were published in 1609 and in 1610 he returned to Stratford permanently. William Shakespeare died on 23 April, 1616 in Stratford and he was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church. After his death, various doubts appeared concerning his authorship. There were suggestions that many works attributed to him had been written by Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe. But lack of evidence which would affirm the hypothesis of their authorship means that Shakespeare is the author of such great works as Romeo and Juliet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Shakespeare had consciousness of the new age of the Renaissance and he also contributed to the development of the English language. Most of his works were produced and performed in the Elizabethan theatre during Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England from 1558 to 1603. It means that Shakespeare’s literary success is related to Elizabethan drama to a large extent. Elizabethan plays were of various type but the most frequently performed were historical plays, revenge dramas and comedies. The main features of the Elizabethan theatre were the action set in places, existence of the supernatural, more than 3 people on the stage — crowd scenes, and humorous scenes. Shakespearean dramas were innovative as he introduced to his works some bloody scenes; he presented his protagonists” mental condition as well.
Shakespeare’s major tragedies are: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Tragedy is a drama of a serious character that usually deals with the development of the conflict between the protagonist and the superior force, which can be destiny or society. It mostly leads to misfortune or disaster. This conflict is perfectly portrayed for two reasons in Romeo and Juliet. It is fate which rules over the young lovers, moreover the clash of their families doesn not allow them to be together. The main protagonists ultimately die, which is considered as the typical conclusion of each tragedy.
Comedies in Elizabethan times led to a happy ending often connected to the marriage between characters. The atmosphere which prevailed in comedies was rather light-hearted. Shakespearean comedies include also separation and struggle between lovers, many intertwining plots and sometimes contain blocking figures who make difficult the characters” life.
ESCALUS, Prince of Verona.
MERCUTIO, kinsman to the Prince, and friend to Romeo.
PARIS, a young Nobleman, kinsman to the Prince.
Page to Paris.
MONTAGUE, head of a Veronese family at feud with the Capulets.
LADY MONTAGUE, wife to Montague.
ROMEO, son to Montague.
BENVOLIO, nephew to Montague, and friend to Romeo.
ABRAM, servant to Montague.
BALTHASAR, servant to Romeo.
CAPULET, head of a Veronese family at feud with the Montagues.
LADY CAPULET, wife to Capulet.
JULIET, daughter to Capulet.
TYBALT, nephew to Lady Capulet.
CAPULET’S COUSIN, an old man.
NURSE to Juliet.
PETER, servant to Juliet’s Nurse.
SAMPSON, servant to Capulet.
GREGORY, servant to Capulet.
FRIAR LAWRENCE, a Franciscan.
FRIAR JOHN, of the same Order.
Citizens of Verona; several Men and Women, relations to both houses; Maskers, Guards, Watchmen and Attendants.
SCENE. During the greater part of the Play in Verona; once, in the Fifth Act, at Mantua
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.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which, if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
A public place
Enter Sampson and Gregory armed with swords and bucklers.
Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals.
No, for then we should be colliers.
I mean, if we be in choler, we’ll draw.
Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o’ the collar.
I strike quickly, being moved.
But thou art not quickly moved to strike.
A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand: therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.
A dog of that house shall move me to stand.
I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.
That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest goes to the wall.
True, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall: therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.
The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.
’Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men I will be civil with the maids, I will cut off their heads.
The heads of the maids?
Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.
They must take it in sense that feel it.
Me they shall feel while I am able to stand: and ’tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.
’Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor John. Draw thy tool; here comes of the house of Montagues.
Enter Abram and Balthasar.
My naked weapon is out: quarrel, I will back thee.
How? Turn thy back and run?
Fear me not.
No, marry; I fear thee!
Let us take the law of our sides; let them begin.
I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.
Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace 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?
Is the law of our side if I say ay?
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.
But if you do, sir, am for you. I serve as good a man as you.
Say better; here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.
Yes, better, sir.
Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy washing blow.
Part, fools! put up your swords, you know not what you do.
[Beats down their swords.]
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,
Or 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.
Enter three or four Citizens with clubs.
Clubs, bills and partisans! Strike! Beat 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 long sword, ho!
A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?
My sword, I say! Old Montague is come,
And flourishes his blade in spite of me.
Enter Montague and his Lady Montague.
Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not, let me go.
Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.
Enter Prince Escalus, with Attendants.
Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbour-stained 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
Throw your mistemper’d weapons to the ground
And hear the sentence of your moved prince.
Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturb’d the quiet of our streets,
And made Verona’s ancient citizens
Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,
To wield old partisans, in hands as old,
Canker’d with peace, to part your canker’d hate.
If ever you disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
For this time all the rest depart away:
You, Capulet, shall go along with me,
And Montague, come you this afternoon,
To know our farther pleasure in this case,
To old Free-town, our common judgement-place.
Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.
[Exeunt Prince and Attendants; Capulet, Lady Capulet, Tybalt, Citizens and Servants.]
Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?
Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?
Here were the servants of your adversary
And yours, close fighting ere I did approach.
I drew to part them, in the instant came
The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar’d,
Which, as he breath’d defiance to my ears,
He swung about his head, and cut the winds,
Who nothing hurt withal, hiss’d him in scorn.
While we were interchanging thrusts and blows
Came more and more, and fought on part and part,
Till the Prince came, who parted either part.
O where is Romeo, saw you him today?
Right glad I am he was not at this fray.
Madam, an hour before the worshipp’d sun
Peer’d forth the golden window of the east,
A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad,
Where underneath the grove of sycamore
That westward rooteth from 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, measuring his affections by my own,
Which then most sought where most might not be found,
Being one too many by my weary self,
Pursu’d my humour, not pursuing his,
And gladly shunn’d who gladly fled from me.
Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs;
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the farthest east begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed,
Away 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.
Black and portentous must this humour prove,
Unless 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 importun’d him by any means?
Both by myself and many other friends;
But he, his own affections’ counsellor,
Is to himself — I will not say how true—
But to himself so secret and so close,
So far from sounding and discovery,
As is the bud bit with an envious worm
Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.
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;
I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.
I would thou wert so happy by thy stay
To hear true shrift. Come, madam, let’s away,
[Exeunt Montague and Lady Montague.]
Good morrow, cousin.
Is the day so young?
But new struck nine.
Ay 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.
Out of her favour where I am in love.
Alas that love so gentle in his view,
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.
Alas that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!
Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here?
Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love:
Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
Dost thou not laugh?
No coz, I rather weep.
Good 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 it prest
With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown
Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs;
Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears:
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
Farewell, my coz.
Soft! I will go along:
And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.
Tut! I have lost myself; I am not here.
This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.
Tell me in sadness who is that you love?
What, shall I groan and tell thee?
Groan! Why, no; but sadly tell me who.
Bid a sick man in sadness make his will,
A word ill urg’d to one that is so ill.
In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.
I aim’d so near when I suppos’d you lov’d.
A right good markman, and she’s fair I love.
A 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 Dian’s wit;
And in strong proof of chastity well arm’d,
From love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharm’d.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms
Nor bide th’encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold:
O she’s rich in beauty, only poor
That when she dies, with beauty dies her store.
Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste;
For beauty starv’d with her severity,
Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
She is too fair, too wise; wisely too fair,
To merit bliss by making me despair.
She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow
Do I live dead, that live to tell it now.
Be rul’d by me, forget to think of her.
O teach me how I should forget to think.
By 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,
Being black, puts us in mind they hide the fair;
He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.
Show me a mistress that is passing fair,
What doth her beauty serve but as a note
Where I may read who pass’d that passing fair?
Farewell, thou canst not teach me to forget.
I’ll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt.
Enter Capulet, Paris and Servant.
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 honourable reckoning are you both,
And pity ’tis you liv’d at odds so long.
But now my lord, what say you to my suit?
But saying o’er what I have said before.
My child is yet a stranger in the world,
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years;
Let 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 marr’d are those so early made.
The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she,
She is 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 agree, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice.
This night I hold an old accustom’d 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
Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light:
Such comfort as do lusty young men feel
When well apparell’d April on the heel
Of limping winter treads, even such delight
Among fresh female buds shall you this night
Inherit at my house. Hear all, all see,
And like her most whose merit most shall be:
Which, on more view of many, mine, being one,
May stand in number, though in reckoning none.
Come, go with me. Go, sirrah, trudge about
Through fair Verona; find those persons out
Whose names are written there, [gives a paper] and to them say,
My house and welcome on their pleasure stay.
[Exeunt Capulet and Paris.]
Find them out whose names are written here! It is written that the shoemaker should meddle with his yard and the tailor with his last, 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!
Enter Benvolio and Romeo.
Tut, man, one fire burns out another’s burning,
One pain is lessen’d by another’s anguish;
Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning;
One desperate grief cures with another’s languish:
Take thou some new infection to thy eye,
And the rank poison of the old will die.
Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.
For what, I pray thee?
For your broken shin.
Why, Romeo, art thou mad?
Not mad, but bound more than a madman is:
Shut up in prison, kept without my food,
Whipp’d and tormented and — God-den, good fellow.
God gi’ go-den. I pray, sir, can you read?
Ay, mine own fortune in my misery.
Perhaps you have learned it without book.
But I pray, can you read anything you see?
Ay, If I know the letters and the language.
Ye say honestly, rest you merry!
Stay, fellow; I can read.
[He reads the letter.]
Signior Martino and his wife and daughters;
County Anselmo and his beauteous sisters;
The lady widow of Utruvio;
Signior Placentio and his lovely nieces;
Mercutio and his brother Valentine;
Mine uncle Capulet, his wife, and daughters;
My fair niece Rosaline and Livia;
Signior Valentio and his cousin Tybalt;
Lucio and the lively Helena.
A fair assembly.
[Gives back the paper]
Whither should they come?
Whither to supper?
To our house.
Indeed I should have ask’d you 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 come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry.
At this same ancient feast of Capulet’s
Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so lov’st;
With all the admired beauties of Verona.
Go thither and with unattainted eye,
Compare her face with some that I shall show,
And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.
When the devout religion of mine eye
Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fire;
And these who, often drown’d, could never die,
Transparent 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 saw her fair, none else being by,
Herself pois’d with herself in either eye:
But in that crystal scales let there be weigh’d
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 shows best.
I’ll go along, no such sight to be shown,
But to rejoice in splendour of my own.
Room in Capulet’s House.
Enter Lady Capulet and Nurse.
Nurse, where’s my daughter? Call her forth to me.
Now, by my maidenhead, at twelve year old,
I bade her come. What, lamb! What ladybird!
God forbid! Where’s this girl? What, Juliet!
How now, who calls?
Madam, I am here. What is your will?
This is the matter. Nurse, give leave awhile,
We must talk in secret. Nurse, come back again,
I have remember’d me, thou’s hear our counsel.
Thou knowest my daughter’s of a pretty age.
Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.
She’s not fourteen.
I’ll lay fourteen of my teeth,
And yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four,
She is not fourteen. How long is it now
A fortnight and odd days.
Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
Susan and she, — God rest all Christian souls! —
Were of an age. 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.
’Tis since the earthquake now eleven years;
And she was wean’d, — I never shall forget it — ,
Of all the days of the year, upon that day:
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dovehouse wall;
My lord and you were then at Mantua:
Nay, I do bear a brain. But as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy, and fall out with the dug!
Shake, quoth the dovehouse: ’twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge.
And since that time it is eleven years;
For then she could stand alone; nay, by th’rood
She could have run and waddled all about;
For even the day before she broke her brow,
And then my husband, — God be with his soul!
A 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;
Wilt thou not, Jule?’ and, by my holidame,
The pretty wretch left crying, and said ‘Ay’.
To see now how a jest shall come about.
I warrant, and I should live a thousand years,
I never should forget it. ‘Wilt thou not, Jule?’ quoth he;
And, pretty fool, it stinted, and said ‘Ay.’
Enough of this; I pray thee hold thy peace.
Yes, madam, yet I cannot choose but laugh,
To think it should leave crying, and say ‘Ay’;
And yet I warrant it had upon it brow
A bump as big as a young cockerel’s stone;
A perilous knock, and it cried bitterly.
‘Yea,’ quoth my husband, ‘fall’st upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age;
Wilt thou not, Jule?’ it stinted, and said ‘Ay’.
And stint thou too, I pray thee, Nurse, say I.
Peace, I have done. God mark thee to his grace
Thou wast the prettiest babe that e’er I nurs’d:
And I might live to see thee married once, I have my wish.
Marry, 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 honour that I dream not of.
An honour! Were not I thine only nurse,
I would say thou hadst suck’d wisdom from thy 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
That you are now a maid. Thus, then, 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.
Verona’s summer hath not such a flower.
Nay, 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.
Examine every married lineament,
And see how one another lends content;
And what obscur’d in this fair volume lies,
Find written in the margent of his eyes.
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him, only lacks a cover:
The fish lives in the sea; and ’tis much pride
For fair without the fair within to hide.
That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory,
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;
So 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:
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
Enter a Servant.
Madam, the guests are come, supper served up, you called, my young lady asked for, the Nurse cursed in the pantry, and everything in extremity. I must hence to wait, I beseech you follow straight.
We follow thee.
Juliet, the County stays.
Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.
Enter Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, with five or six Maskers; Torch-bearers and others.
What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
Or shall we on without apology?
The date is out of such prolixity:
We’ll have no Cupid hoodwink’d with a scarf,
Bearing a Tartar’s painted bow of lath,
Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper;
Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
After the prompter, for our entrance:
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;
Being 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
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.
You are a lover, borrow Cupid’s wings,
And soar with them above a common bound.
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.
Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.
And, to sink in it, should 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.
If love be rough with you, be rough with love;
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
Give me a case to put my visage in: [Putting on a mask.]
A visor for a visor. What care I
What curious eye doth quote deformities?
Here are the beetle-brows shall blush for me.
Come, knock and enter; and no sooner in
But every man betake him to his legs.
A torch for me: let wantons, light of heart,
Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels;
For I am proverb’d with a grandsire phrase,
I’ll be a candle-holder and look on,
The game was ne’er so fair, and I am done.
Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word:
If thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire
Or save your reverence 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, light lights by day.
Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits
Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
And we mean well in going to this mask;
But ’tis no wit to go.
Why, may one ask?
I 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.
O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep:
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
Her traces, of the smallest spider’s web;
The collars, of the moonshine’s watery beams;
Her whip of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film;
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail,
Tickling a parson’s nose as a lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscados, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes;
And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night;
And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them, and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she, —
Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace,
Thou talk’st of nothing.
True, I talk of dreams,
Which 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 wooes
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being anger’d, puffs away from thence,
Turning his side 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
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars,
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels; and expire the term
Of a despised life, clos’d in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But he that hath the steerage of my course
Direct my suit. On, lusty gentlemen!
A Hall in Capulet’s House.
Musicians waiting. Enter Servants.
Where’s Potpan, that he helps not to take away?
He shift a trencher! He scrape a trencher!
When good manners shall lie all in one or two men’s hands, and they unwash’d too, ’tis a foul thing.
Away with the join-stools, remove the court-cupboard, look to the plate. Good thou, save me a piece of marchpane; and as thou loves me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone and Nell. Antony and Potpan!
Ay, boy, ready.
You 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 awhile, and the longer liver take all.
Enter Capulet, &c. with the Guests and Gentlewomen to the Maskers.
Welcome, gentlemen, ladies that have their toes
Unplagu’d with corns will have a bout with you.
Ah my mistresses, which of you all
Will now deny to dance? She that makes dainty,
She I’ll swear hath corns. Am I come near ye now?
Welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day
That I have worn a visor, and could tell
A 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.
A hall, a hall, give room! And foot it, girls.
[Music plays, and they dance.]
More light, you knaves; and turn the tables up,
And quench the fire, the room is grown too hot.
Ah sirrah, this unlook’d-for sport comes well.
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
Were in a mask?
By’r Lady, thirty years.
What, man, ’tis not so much, ’tis not so much:
’Tis since the nuptial of Lucentio,
Come Pentecost as quickly as it will,
Some five and twenty years; and then we mask’d.
’Tis more, ’tis more, his son is elder, sir;
His son is thirty.
Will you tell me that?
His son was but a ward two years ago.
What lady is that, which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?
I know not, sir.
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.
This by his voice, should be a Montague.
Fetch me my rapier, boy. What, dares the slave
Come hither, cover’d with an antic face,
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
Now by the stock and honour of my kin,
To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.
Why 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 solemnity this night.
Young Romeo, is it?
’Tis he, that villain Romeo.
Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone,
A bears him like a portly gentleman;
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth.
I would not for the wealth of all the town
Here in my house do him disparagement.
Therefore be patient, take no note of him,
It is my will; the which if thou respect,
Show a fair presence and put off these frowns,
An ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.
It fits when such a villain is a guest:
I’ll not endure him.
He shall be endur’d.
What, goodman boy! I say he shall, go to;
Am 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 cock-a-hoop, you’ll be the man!
Why, uncle, ’tis a shame.
Go to, go to!
You are a saucy boy. Is’t so, indeed?
This trick may chance to scathe you, I know what.
You must contrary me! Marry, ’tis time.
Well said, my hearts! — You are a princox; go:
Be quiet, or — More light, more light! — For shame!
I’ll make you quiet. What, cheerly, my hearts.
Patience perforce with wilful choler meeting
Makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting.
I will withdraw: but this intrusion shall,
Now seeming sweet, convert to bitter gall.
[To Juliet.] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which 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?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do:
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by thine my sin is purg’d.
Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urg’d!
Give me my sin again.
You kiss by the book.
Madam, your mother craves a word with you.
What is her mother?
Her mother is the lady of the house,
And a good lady, and a wise and virtuous.
I nurs’d her daughter that you talk’d withal.
I tell you, he that can lay hold of her
Shall have the chinks.
Is she a Capulet?
O dear account! My life is my foe’s debt.
Away, be gone; the sport is at the best.
Ay, so I fear; the more is my unrest.
Nay, gentlemen, prepare not to be gone,
We have a trifling foolish banquet towards.
Is it e’en so? Why then, I thank you all;
I thank you, honest gentlemen; good night.
More torches here! Come on then, let’s to bed.
Ah, sirrah, by my fay, it waxes late,
I’ll to my rest.
[Exeunt all but Juliet and Nurse.]
Come hither, Nurse. What is yond gentleman?
The son and heir of old Tiberio.
What’s he that now is going out of door?
Marry, that I think be young Petruchio.
What’s he that follows here, that would not dance?
I know not.
Go ask his name. If he be married,
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.
His name is Romeo, and a Montague,
The only son of your great enemy.
My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too 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 learn’d even now
Of one I danc’d withal.
[One calls within, ‘Juliet’.]
Come let’s away, the strangers all are gone.