'Romeo and Juliet' - Act 1 Key Quotations

"A dog of the house of Montague moves me."

- CAPULET SERVANT (SAMPSON) -

CONTEXT:

The Capulet's servants want to fight with anyone they find.

THEMES:

Loyalty; Honour; Aggression

LANGUAGE:

Derogatory language = "dog" shows a lack of respect.

"Ope her lap to saint-seducing gold"

- ROMEO -

CONTEXT:

Romeo tries to buy Rosaline's affection.

THEMES:

Power; Love; Sex

LANGUAGE:

Oxymoron = "saint-seducing" - religious vs. sexual imagery.

“Let two more summers wither in their pride

Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride”

- CAPULET -

CONTEXT:

Patriarchal society - women dependent on male relatives so a ‘good’ marriage imperative amongst high society - links to the prince = Paris is good for Capulet too.

THEMES:

Gender; Love; Authority

LANGUAGE:

Imagery = "ripe" suggests that Juliet is not 'ripe enough' to be 'picked' yet. She needs to mature.

Sexual inferences, perhaps?

“Woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart.”

- CAPULET -

CONTEXT:

Capulet, although not keen to agree to marrying Juliet off at this point, encourages Paris to win Juliet's heart at the Capulet ball.

THEMES:

Love; Authority

LANGUAGE:

Adjective = "gentle" suggests that Capulet has respect for Paris, and would like him to be successful.

Imperative = demanding ‘woo’ - is Capulet protective and romantic?

Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit"

- THE NURSE -

CONTEXT:

A rich woman’s main purpose in Elizabethan England was to produce an heir - deemed a duty - this joke, whilst inappropriate to a 21st Century audience, would entertain an Elizabethan crowd.

THEMES:

Love vs. Sex; Gender; Youth; Age

LANGUAGE:

Innuendo = "fall backward" is a metaphor for sex.

‘wit’ = intelligence/ sense

"Part fools...you know not what you do."

- BENVOLIO -

CONTEXT:

Benvolio can see that both families abuse their power.

THEMES:

Power; Family; Damage

LANGUAGE:

Plural = "fools" meaning both the Montagues and the Capulets.

"Some consequence yet hanging in the stars"

- ROMEO -

CONTEXT:

Elizabethan belief in the heavens/stars mapping out one’s future - everything is predestined, humans have little control over their own fortunes.

THEMES:

Fate; Love; Death

LANGUAGE:

Violent verb/foreshadowing = "hanging"

Abstract noun = "consequence" - vagueness from Romeo has specific connotations to the audience

Foreshadowing = we know the consequences - the stars - a belief in fate and the power of the stars.

"I'll look to like...but no more will I endart my eye."

- JULIET -

CONTEXT:

Juliet has been asked to think of Paris as a potential husband.

THEMES:

Individuality; Marriage; Patriarchy; Family

LANGUAGE:

Politeness = "no more" is a polite refusal from Juliet to do anything more than look at Paris.

"O she doth teach the torches to burn bright"

"I ne’er saw true beauty til this night"

"My lips, two blushing pilgrims, a snowy dove trooping with crows"

- ROMEO -

CONTEXT:

Courtly love - oxymorons and poetry, Romeo can not use it effectively until he meets Juliet - Shakespeare is poking fun at the popularity of courtly love in the play.

THEMES:

Love

LANGUAGE:

Adverb = 'ne'er' - what about Rosaline?!

Noun phrase = "true beauty" suggests that Romeo is immediately bowled over at the sight of Juliet.

Religious imagery = “My lips, two blushing pilgrims” - Juliet as an idol, something to worship

“by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead I hold it not a sin”

- TYBALT -

CONTEXT:

Honour was about leadership and position in society, men’s honour could be regained by duelling and physical battles - very easy to lose honour but difficult to regain fully.

THEMES:

Family honour; Hate; Death

LANGUAGE:

Abstract noun - "honour" shows family honour means everything to Tybalt

Violent verb - "strike" is excessive/melodramatic - helps to cement Tybalt’s role as the antagonist in the play.

Religious justification = "Not a sin" justifying his violence through religion as he does often.

“Feather of lead”

“Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold”

“she hath forsworn to love”

- ROMEO -

CONTEXT:

Romeo is miserable because Rosaline, the girl he is infatuated with, has sworn to not love.

THEMES:

Love

LANGUAGE:

Adjective = "saint-seducing" suggests that Romeo thinks so highly of Rosaline that he believes she could seduce saints themselves.

Juxtaposition = "Feather of lead" shows Romeo's confused state. He isn't sure what to do.