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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES
Act II, Scene 5
Juliet, alone in the garden, has been waiting for the Nurseís return. The Nurse left at nine, promising to be back in half-an-hour, but it is now noon. Juliet wonders why the Nurse is late and feels that the messengers for lovers should be fast-footed. At last, the Nurse arrives. Juliet, anxious for news, asks her what has happened. The Nurse, instead of answering questions, starts complaining about her aches and pains. Then, she praises Romeo. She breaks off and asks if lunch is over. Then, she inquires where Lady Capulet is. She continues to tease her charge until Juliet loses her temper. The Nurse finally tells Juliet that the Friar has called her for confession that same afternoon and has also agreed to perform the marriage ceremony.
This scene shows Julietís impatience, again reflecting the fatal flaw that results in tragedy. Juliet has sent the Nurse as a messenger to Romeo and anxiously waits for her return. When she arrives, the talkative old Nurse teases Juliet. She affects sad looks, complains of aching bones, loss of breath, and headache. She then pretends to criticize Romeo, but unexpectedly starts praising him. Finally, at the end of the scene, when Juliet has lost all her patience, the Nurse tells her that she is to go to confession to the Friar on that afternoon. After the confession, the priest has promised to marry her and Romeo.
Throughout the scene, the Nurse shows her self-importance in being in control and giving commands. In keeping with her character, she ends the scene with a touch of coarse humor. She must bear the responsibility for arranging both the marriage and its consummation (arranging for a ladder so Romeo can climb into Julietís room), but she says that soon Juliet will have her own burden, the child created from this marriage. The scene supplies comic relief to the tragedy that is to follow.
Act II, Scene 6
Romeo, after meeting the Nurse, has gone at once to Friar Lawrenceís cell to make his confession before his marriage, and he is waiting there for Julietís arrival. The Friar prays for a blessing on the confession and absolution of Romeo which have just been performed. Romeo piously says ĎAmení to the benediction. He thinks of his approaching happiness and states that he is ready to die if necessary, an ironic foreshadowing of the final events of the play.
The Friar, in keeping with his personality, advises Romeo to moderate his joy and warns about hastiness. Juliet then enters quietly and stands silently. The Friar considers this silence as an indication that Juliet`s love will be eternal. Romeo asks Juliet to express her intentions, but she cannot because her emotions have overcome her. The Friar then bids them to follow him into the Chapel for the wedding ceremony.
This very short scene announces the marriage of the lovers and sets a quiet, romantic mood. Romeo is eager for the marriage and longing for the happiness it will bring; in fact, he says he is willing to pay the price of his life for the happiness, ironic words spoken just days before his death. When Juliet arrives, his adoration of her is obvious. He begs her to speak of the marriage, to sweeten the air with the music of her voice, but Juliet is more restrained in her behavior. She is silent because she cannot express her emotions in words. It is obvious that she deeply loves Romeo.
Friar Lawrence appears to be deeply troubled. He is performing the marriage ceremony in hopes of bringing an end to the feuding of the two families; but he seems to have a presentiment. He preaches to Romeo the philosophy of moderation, a philosophy which passionate youth have difficulty following. The Friar tells him that violent delights have violent ends that fire and powder destroy each other when brought together. His illustrations are striking and his caution seems to carry hints of doom. At this moment, Romeo and Juliet, who are aglow in their love, cannot accept or understand any warning about darkness. They are passionate youths, and they want to act now.
In an atypical manner, the Friar hastens the lovers into a marriage, in spite of his apprehension over its outcome. He prays that by his spiritual power he can bring about a union of the two feuding families by uniting their son and daughter in marriage.
This scene once again develops the theme of youth versus age. The old Friar, with wisdom and patience, again argues for moderation. Romeo and Juliet, filled with impatience, inexperience, and youthful passion, want quick fulfillment.