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ACT I, SCENE II

LINES 1-34

In the last scene, we heard about Romeo before we met him; now we hear about Juliet. Lord Capulet is in a good mood, and we soon find out why: Count Paris, the Prince's relative and Verona's most eligible bachelor, wants to marry Juliet. Paris is an honorable man, and he goes through the accepted procedure for acquiring a wife-he asks her father for her hand in marriage.

Here we see Lord Capulet's public personality. He seems like a gracious patriarch and father-figure. He claims Juliet is too young to be married, but encourages Paris to win her heart. He wastes no time in getting the two young people together; he invites Paris to a party so he can start dating Juliet that very night.

From this short scene we learn quite a bit about Juliet. At thirteen, she's already very attractive. She's the Capulets' only child; Lord Capulet calls her "the hopeful lady of my earth." Here is another image of light and dark. He describes her and the other young girls who'll be at the party as "stars that make dark heaven light." But we'll have to wait a while longer to meet her.

LINES 35-104

Capulet gives his servant a list of other people to invite to the party. There's only one problem: the servant can't read. He doesn't mention this as Capulet and Paris leave; he's still trying to decipher the list when he runs into Romeo and Benvolio.



After joking around (when the servant is called "Clown" we expect no less), Romeo finally reads the guest list to him. The list includes Tybalt, Romeo's friend Mercutio, and the young woman Romeo's in love with: the lovely Rosaline. When Romeo and Benvolio ask where this party will be, the servant replies

My master is the great rich Capulet, and if you be not of the house of Montague, I pray you come (I, ii, 81-82) Of course, they are Montagues, but Benvolio decides they should go anyway, as he has a scheme to help Romeo forget Rosaline. But Romeo isn't convinced. He wants to go just to look at Rosaline.

NOTE:

Romeo's chance meeting with Capulet's illiterate servant and his invitation to the ball is the first fateful accident that guides the action of the play. Be on the lookout for other chance happenings.

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