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ACT V, SCENE I
Romeo's in Mantua, and in a good mood. Throughout the play, he's had foreboding dreams that have come true. But finally, he's had a happy one, and he's sure that good news is on the way. This dream is sadly ironic to us:
I dreamt my lady came and found me dead . . . And breathed such life with kisses in my lips That I revived and was an emperor. (V, i, 6, 8-9)
His servant Balthasar enters, having ridden at full speed from Verona. He tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. He saw her buried in Capulet's tomb and came right away to tell his master.
Romeo immediately cries, "Then I defy you, stars!" and leaps into action. Sadly, by defying the stars, he is still fortune's fool. If he had waited a day, an hour, even a few more minutes to go to Capulet's tomb, he would have found his Juliet alive. Balthasar puts our thoughts into words and begs Romeo to have patience. He's very worried-Romeo's "looks are wild and pale and do import some misadventure." But Romeo doesn't pay any attention.
Romeo sends Balthasar to get fresh horses for both of them. Alone, he states his purpose: "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight." This connects the ideas of death, sex, and marriage.
Romeo has decided to kill himself, but how? Selling poison is against the law, and punishable by death. But Romeo remembers a very poor apothecary (druggist) who looks desperate enough to secretly sell him some. He goes to find the man at once.
He asks for a poison that will kill him, "as violently as hasty powder fired / doth hurry from the cannon's fatal womb." The image of gunpowder has been linked to the lovers' passion up until now. By using it to refer to death, Romeo links the lovers' passion to their death.
We see that this once hopeful young man has become tired of the world. He gives the apothecary the money, saying:
There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls, Doing more murders in this loathsome world Than these poor compounds that thou mayest not sell. (V, i, 80-82)