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Prince Escalus also sees the feud as a serious threat, and he's angry about it. But he acts rationally. He states the charges: the Montagues and Capulets have broken the law by fighting three times in the recent past. He publicly announces that in the future anyone who fights will face the death penalty. Clearly, this is a man who wants to end the deadly fight. But will he act strongly enough, and soon enough?
From an action-packed scene full of people, we go to one family's private conversation. Everyone leaves except Lord and Lady Montague and their nephew Benvolio. Benvolio is asked how the fight started; this is not the only time he'll have to report on the trouble Tybalt causes.
Suddenly, Lady Montague says, "O, where is Romeo? Saw you him today?" and the whole tone changes at once. Lord and Lady Montague and Benvolio love Romeo so much that the mention of his name even changes how they talk. Benvolio's terse and repetitive description of the fight becomes poetry.
Came more and more and fought on part and part, Till the Prince came, who parted either part. (I, ii, 117-18) becomes
Madam, an hour before the worshipped sun Peered forth the golden window of the East, A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad, Where underneath the grove of sycamore... So early walking did I see your son. (I, i, 121-26)
Instead of meeting Romeo in the middle of angry words and fighting, we will meet him amidst the poetry of his loving family and friends.
We also find out that Romeo's parents are worried about him. He's been spending his nights out walking, and his days locked in his room. His father adds that Romeo "Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out / And makes himself an artificial night."
This is the first mention of how Romeo is connected to day and night. Soon Juliet and true love will become his daylight and his sun. But Romeo doesn't know true love yet, so he shuts out daylight and creates "artificial night." Be on the lookout for more images of light and dark.
Lord Montague has tried everything he can think of to find out what's bothering Romeo, and now he asks for Benvolio's help. Keep his words of concern in mind later, when we see how the Capulets respond to Juliet's problems. Benvolio sees Romeo coming, and asks his aunt and uncle to leave so the two cousins can talk alone.
Finally, we see the two best friends alone. Romeo comes to his senses long enough to greet Benvolio and notice that there's been fighting. The feud doesn't interest Romeo, he's got something else on his mind, and Benvolio is determined to find out what it is. What happens next is a situation we can all identify with. One friend has a secret, and the other wants to know what it is. Benvolio gets Romeo to admit that he's in love: the next trick is to find out with whom. But Romeo isn't telling.
We can't help but smile at Romeo in this scene. He's in love with love. He's chosen a girl he can never have, and he's having a great time feeling sorry for himself. He calls love a "madness" that has overtaken him and claims "I have lost myself, I am not here / This is not Romeo, he's some other where." (I, i, 200-1)
Have you ever felt so overcome with emotion that you weren't acting like your normal self? We'll see this happen to Romeo several times during the play. Also, notice that when he's in this state, Romeo's speech is childish and repetitive:
She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair To merit bliss by making me despair. (I, i, 224-25) It's no wonder that Benvolio wants the old Romeo back. Like a true friend, he tries to solve the problem. He promises to find another girl to make Romeo forget his grief.