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Romeo and Juliet

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ACT IV SCENE V Juliet's chamber. 
[Enter Nurse]
NurseMistress! what, mistress! Juliet! fast, I warrant her, she:
Why, lamb! why, lady! fie, you slug-a-bed!
Why, love, I say! madam! sweet-heart! why, bride!
What, not a word? you take your pennyworths now;
Sleep for a week; for the next night, I warrant,
The County Paris hath set up his rest,
That you shall rest but little. God forgive me,
Marry, and amen, how sound is she asleep!
I must needs wake her. Madam, madam, madam!
Ay, let the county take you in your bed;
He'll fright you up, i' faith. Will it not be?
[Undraws the curtains]
What, dress'd! and in your clothes! and down again!
I must needs wake you; Lady! lady! lady!
Alas, alas! Help, help! my lady's dead!10
O, well-a-day, that ever I was born!
Some aqua vitae, ho! My lord! my lady!
LADY CAPULETWhat noise is here?
NurseO lamentable day!
LADY CAPULETWhat is the matter?
NurseLook, look! O heavy day!
LADY CAPULETO me, O me! My child, my only life,
Revive, look up, or I will die with thee!
Help, help! Call help.
CAPULETFor shame, bring Juliet forth; her lord is come.
NurseShe's dead, deceased, she's dead; alack the day!
LADY CAPULETAlack the day, she's dead, she's dead, she's dead!
CAPULETHa! let me see her: out, alas! she's cold:21
Her blood is settled, and her joints are stiff;
Life and these lips have long been separated:
Death lies on her like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.
NurseO lamentable day!
LADY CAPULETO woful time!
CAPULETDeath, that hath ta'en her hence to make me wail,
Ties up my tongue, and will not let me speak.
[Enter FRIAR LAURENCE and PARIS, with Musicians]
FRIAR LAURENCECome, is the bride ready to go to church?
CAPULETReady to go, but never to return.30
O son! the night before thy wedding-day
Hath Death lain with thy wife. There she lies,
Flower as she was, deflowered by him.
Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir;
My daughter he hath wedded: I will die,
And leave him all; life, living, all is Death's.
PARISHave I thought long to see this morning's face,
And doth it give me such a sight as this?
LADY CAPULETAccursed, unhappy, wretched, hateful day!
Most miserable hour that e'er time saw40
In lasting labour of his pilgrimage!
But one, poor one, one poor and loving child,
But one thing to rejoice and solace in,
And cruel death hath catch'd it from my sight!
NurseO woe! O woful, woful, woful day!
Most lamentable day, most woful day,
That ever, ever, I did yet behold!
O day! O day! O day! O hateful day!
Never was seen so black a day as this:
O woful day, O woful day!50
PARISBeguiled, divorced, wronged, spited, slain!
Most detestable death, by thee beguil'd,
By cruel cruel thee quite overthrown!
O love! O life! not life, but love in death!
CAPULETDespised, distressed, hated, martyr'd, kill'd!
Uncomfortable time, why camest thou now
To murder, murder our solemnity?
O child! O child! my soul, and not my child!
Dead art thou! Alack! my child is dead;
And with my child my joys are buried.60
FRIAR LAURENCEPeace, ho, for shame! confusion's cure lives not
In these confusions. Heaven and yourself
Had part in this fair maid; now heaven hath all,
And all the better is it for the maid:
Your part in her you could not keep from death,
But heaven keeps his part in eternal life.
The most you sought was her promotion;
For 'twas your heaven she should be advanced:
And weep ye now, seeing she is advanced
Above the clouds, as high as heaven itself?70
O, in this love, you love your child so ill,
That you run mad, seeing that she is well:
She's not well married that lives married long;
But she's best married that dies married young.
Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary
On this fair corse; and, as the custom is,
In all her best array bear her to church:
For though fond nature bids us an lament,
Yet nature's tears are reason's merriment.
CAPULETAll things that we ordained festival,80
Turn from their office to black funeral;
Our instruments to melancholy bells,
Our wedding cheer to a sad burial feast,
Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change,
Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse,
And all things change them to the contrary.
FRIAR LAURENCESir, go you in; and, madam, go with him;
And go, Sir Paris; every one prepare
To follow this fair corse unto her grave:
The heavens do lour upon you for some ill;90
Move them no more by crossing their high will.
First MusicianFaith, we may put up our pipes, and be gone.
NurseHonest goodfellows, ah, put up, put up;
For, well you know, this is a pitiful case.
First MusicianAy, by my troth, the case may be amended.
[Enter PETER]
PETERMusicians, O, musicians, 'Heart's ease, Heart's
ease:' O, an you will have me live, play 'Heart's ease.'
First MusicianWhy 'Heart's ease?'
PETERO, musicians, because my heart itself plays 'My
heart is full of woe:' O, play me some merry dump,
to comfort me.101
First MusicianNot a dump we; 'tis no time to play now.
PETERYou will not, then?
First MusicianNo.
PETERI will then give it you soundly.
First MusicianWhat will you give us?
PETERNo money, on my faith, but the gleek;
I will give you the minstrel.
First MusicianThen I will give you the serving-creature.
PETERThen will I lay the serving-creature's dagger on
your pate. I will carry no crotchets: I'll re you,
I'll fa you; do you note me?
First MusicianAn you re us and fa us, you note us.
Second MusicianPray you, put up your dagger, and put out your wit.
PETERThen have at you with my wit! I will dry-beat you

with an iron wit, and put up my iron dagger. Answer
me like men:
'When griping grief the heart doth wound,
And doleful dumps the mind oppress,120
Then music with her silver sound'--
why 'silver sound'? why 'music with her silver
sound'? What say you, Simon Catling?
MusicianMarry, sir, because silver hath a sweet sound.
PETERPretty! What say you, Hugh Rebeck?
Second MusicianI say 'silver sound,' because musicians sound for silver.
PETERPretty too! What say you, James Soundpost?
Third MusicianFaith, I know not what to say.129
PETERO, I cry you mercy; you are the singer: I will say
for you. It is 'music with her silver sound,'
because musicians have no gold for sounding:
'Then music with her silver sound
With speedy help doth lend redress.'
First MusicianWhat a pestilent knave is this same!
Second MusicianHang him, Jack! Come, we'll in here; tarry for the
mourners, and stay dinner.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 5

From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.

1. fast, sc. asleep.

2. slug-a-bed, slug in a bed, lazy creature; 'slug' being often used as a type of laziness from its sleepy motion. The word here, however, seems like a coinage of the Nurse, a compound of 'sluggard' and 'lie-abed.'

4. Marry, and amen, by the Virgin, blessed be her name; amen, so be it, said as though in invoking the Virgin she had implied a blessing on her name; the phrase occurs again in i. H. IV. ii. 4. 128, though in the not very pious mouth of Falstaff.

6. take ... bed, catch you asleep.

7. Will it not be? can't I wake you?

8. down again, lying down again after you have got up and dressed.

9. I must ... you, I can't let you sleep on, however tired you may be.

11. well-a-day, see note on iii. 2. 28.

13. What noise is here? what is the reason for all this noise here?

14. heavy, sorrowful, lamentable.

15. my only life, you who are everything in life to me.

18. For shame, why is there all this delay?

21. out, alas! Here out intensifies the exclamation of grief, and has much the same sense of completeness as in Temp. iv. 1. 101, "And be a boy right out"; Cor. iv. 5. 127, "thou hast beat me out Twelve several times." Shakespeare has the phrase often, e.g. M. W. iv. 5. 64, W. T. iv. 4. 110, and in Oth. v. 2. 119, "Out, and alas!"

22. is settled, no longer flows freely in her veins.

28. Ties up ... speak. As Capulet immediately afterwards breaks out into a passionate lament, Malone supposes that Shakespeare, when writing this line, had in his mind the poem of Romeus and Juliet, in which, though the mother makes a long speech, the father does not utter a word. But it was possible for Capulet to be struck dumb at first and afterwards to find his voice.

29. Come ... church? Staunton would give this line to Paris, on the ground that at this juncture the Friar is too critically placed to be anxious to lead the conversation. He thinks, too, that Capulet's answer tends to show that Paris had asked the question. To me it seems clear that Capulet, in the first line of his speech, briefly answers the Friar's question, and then turns to Paris in the words " son," etc. The Friar had good reason to be anxious to find out whether his potion had had its effects; and Dyce well asks, "Would the deeply-enamoured Paris speak of his Juliet merely as 'the bride'?"

36. living, my possessions, property; cp. W. T. iv. 3. 104, "within a mile where my land and living lies"; M. V. iii. 2. 158, V. i. 286. Capell made the unnecessary conjecture 'life-leaving' and has been followed by some editors.

37. thought long, been long and eagerly expecting.

41. In lasting labour, in the long toil; perhaps with an allusion to labour in the sense of 'pangs of childbirth,' as in A. G. iii. 7. 81, "With news the time's with labour and throes forth, Each minute, some."

42. one poor. It seems doubtful wliether he means 'ill fated wretch that she was,' or 'one only'; but in the following words, one poor and loving child, poor is certainly used in the latter sense, as in V. A. 207, "What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss?" and Cor. v. 1. 27, "For one poor grain or two."

43. to ... solace in, to find comfort in ; cp. Cymb. i. 6. 86, "To hide me from the radiant sun, and solace I' the dungeon by a snuff."

44. catch'd, a form of the participle used again in L. L. L. v. 2. 69, A. W. i. 3. 176, and of the past tense in Cor. i. 3. 68.

45. woe, ... day. In this and the two following speeches, Grant White thinks that Shakespeare was probably ridiculing the translation of Seneca's tragedies, published in 1581. But the lines do not seem out of place in the mouth of the speakers.

51. Beguiled, cheated; as more commonly in Shakespeare. Nowadays the word more generally means to deceive pleasingly, to drive away anything unpleasant by an agreeable delusion; and in this sense also Shakespeare uses it, though less frequently.

54. not life ... death, not 'my life,' as I have so often called you, but still in death my loved one.

55. Despised, treated by Fate with contumely: distressed, afflicted, a stronger sense than the word now usually has and closer to its Latin source districtus, torn asunder, sc. by grief.

56. Uncomfortable, cheerless, joyless; but with more of an active force than the word now has, and similar to "discomfortable" in R. II. iii. 2. 36, "Discomfortable cousin!"

57. our solemnity, see note on i. 5. 59.

5S. not my child, no longer to be called 'my child.'

61, 2. Confusion's ... confusions, the cure of such a terrible sorrow has no being in such tumultuous abandonment to grief; confusion is used in two senses here, the trouble that confounds, paralyses, us, and the frantic disorder consequent upon that trouble. For lives Lettsom would read lies, but the former word seems much more expressive and forcible, 'has no vitality, no principle of life and efficacy.'

63. Had part in, shared in.

65. keep from death, preserve from death, hold back from death when it laid its grasp upon her.

66. But heaven ... life, but heaven preserves his share in her in life eternal.

67. her promotion, her rise in life by marriage with the prince's kinsman.

68. your heaven, your highest idea of happiness and glory.

71. in this love ... ill, this manner of showing your love does not evidence any true love, any love worthy of the name.

72. is well, is at rest, is in happiness; a frequent euphemism for being dead. Cp. A. C. ii. 5. 33, where, in answer to the Messenger's report that Antony "is well," Cleopatra says, "But, sirrah, mark, we use To say the dead art are well; also W. T. v. 1. 30, Macb. iv. 3. 179.

75. rosemary, a herb commonly used at funerals as an emblem of immortality, from being an evergreen, and of lasting affection, it being supposed to strengthen the memory. See above, ii. 4. 219.

77. In all ... church, see note on iv. 1. 109-12.

78. fond, over-loving; see note on iii. 3. 52.

79. Yet nature's ... merriment, yet the tears which natural affection bids us shed are laughed at by reason, are, if viewed in the 'dry' light of reason, a mere weakness.

80. festival, for the purpose of festivity; an adjective, as is funeral in the next line; for the former, cp. K. J. iii. 1. 76, "this blessed day Ever in France shall be kept festival"; for the latter, J. C. iii. 1. 245, "You shall not in your funeral speech blame us."

81. their office, their proper use.

83. a sad burial feast. This custom, derived from the Romans, still obtains in Ireland among the lower classes, and the feast is called a 'wake,' i.e. a vigil, or sometimes, from a misunderstanding of that term, 'a waking of the dead.'

84. dirges, mournful chants; from the Lat. dirige, direct, guide, the first word of a chant used by Catholics at the burial service, from Psalms, v. 8, "Dirige, Dominus mens, in conspectu tuo vitam meam," "Guide my life, Lord, in Thy sight": sullen, originally meaning 'solitary,' then 'morose,' 'gloomy.'

85. serve for, are used as a decoration for.

88. every one prepare, let every one prepare.

90. lour, frown; see note on ii. 5. 6; ill, evil deed.

92. put up our pipes, sc. in their cases, preparatory to going away.

95. the case ... amended. The Musician pretending to take the Nurse's word case as referring to the case of his instrument, answers, Yes, in truth, it might be a better one. Delius compares a similar pun in W. T. iv. 4. 844, "though my case be a pitiful one, I hope I shall not be flayed out of it."

96. 'Heart's ease,' a popular tune at the time.

97. have me live, see me lively, in good spirits.

99, 100. My heart ... woe. "The burthen of the first stanza of A Pleasant New Ballad of Two Lovers: 'Hey hoe! my heart is full of woe'" (Steevens): dump, a melancholy strain in music; said to be used also for a dance. The colloquialism 'in the dumps,' i.e. in a dismal humour, may still be heard. Of course Peter's merry is an intentional contradiction of terms, as Staunton points out.

105. give it you soundly, pay you out well for refusing to play.

107. gleek. 'To give the gleek,' said to be taken from an old game at cards called gleek, was to scorn or flout, and by some there is supposed to be a pun on the word gleeman or gligman, a minstrel.

109. win I give you the serving-creature, I will retort by calling you serving-creature.

110, 1. Then will I ... pate, my reply to your insult will be a blow on your head with my dagger: I will carry no crotchets, I will put up with no insults, endure none of your caprices; with a pun on crotchets in its musical use = a quaver.

111, 2. I'll re you ... me, I'll play a pretty tune on your head with my dagger. A similar figure of speech from music is 'I'll beat you into fiddle-strings.' re, fa, the names given in the singing of the notes of the gamut or scale in music to the notes D and F; note, of course with a pun on 'note,' = pay attention to what I say, and 'note' in music.

114. put out, extinguish, have done with.

116. Then have at you with my wit, then here goes for a blow at you with my wit.

123. Catling, or catgut, the intestines of sheep from which the strings of string instruments are made.

125. Rebeck, a three-stringed fiddle; cp. L'Allegro, 94, "And the jocund rebecks sound."

126, 7. sound for silver, play for money.

130. I cry you mercy, I beg your pardon for asking you: you are the singer, sc. and therefore cannot be expected to answer for the musicians.

130, 1. I will say for you, I will answer myself in your stead.

135. pestilent knave, insolent and troublesome fellow.

136. Jack, see note on ii. 4. 121.

136, 7. tarry for the mourners, wait here till the funeral procession comes forth and then accompany it to the grave. The propriety of this scene has been much debated. Coleridge thinks that as the audience knew that Juliet was not dead, "it is, perhaps, excusable," though not a thing to be imitated by inferior hands. Knight thus defends it: "Rightly understood, it appears to us that the scene requires no apology. It was the custom of our ancient theatre to introduce in the irregular pauses of a play that stood in the place of a division into acts, some short diversion, such as a song, a dance, or the extempore buffoonery of a clown. At this point of Romeo and Juliet there is a natural pause in the action, and at this point such an interlude would probably have been presented whether Shakspere had written one or not.

The stage direction in the second quarto puts this matter, as it appears to us, beyond a doubt. That direction says, 'Enter Will Kempe,' and the dialogue immediately begins between Peter and the musicians. Will Kempe was the Liston of his day; and was as great a popular favourite as Tarleton had been before him. It was wise, therefore, in Shakespere to find some business for Will Kempe, that should not be entirely out of harmony with the great business of his play. This scene of the musicians is very short, and, regarded as a necessary part of the routine of the ancient stage, is excellently managed. Nothing can be more naturally exhibited than the indifference of hirelings, without attachment, to a family scene of grief. Peter and the musicians bandy jokes; and, although the musicians think Peter 'a pestilent knave,' perhaps for his inopportune sallies, they are ready enough to look after their own gratification, even amidst the sorrow which they see around them. A wedding or a burial is the same to them. 'Come, we'll in here — tarry for the mourners, and stay dinner.' So Shakespere read the course of the world — and it is not much changed." In Clarke's opinion, too, "the intention was to show how grief and gaiety, pathos and absurdity, sorrow and jesting, elbow each other in life's crowd; how the calamities of existence fall heavily upon the souls of some, while others, standing close beside the grievers, feel no jot of suffering or sympathy" ... The grave-digger in Hamlet, the porter in Macbeth, and the clown in Othello are equally jocose amid scenes not less tragic, and the hired mourners at a modern funeral would hardly be libelled by a comparison with Peter and the musicians, except that their wit would probably have less wit in it."


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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