R&J Q&A Act 2

Act 2, Prologue

  1. Explain the main ideas of this prologue.

Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2

  1. Quote and restate the metaphor describing Juliet.
  2. In her soliloquy, why does Juliet say, “O, be some other name”?
  3. After Romeo appears, what is Juliet embarrassed about?
  4. When Juliet speaks about “light love” or her light behavior, what specifically does she mean by the word “light”?
  5. Juliet says, “… I have no joy of this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden.” Nonetheless, what arrangement does she make with Romeo?

Three Character Studies

Although Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy, that fact is not immediately apparent. The first two acts contain quite a bit of humor, some provided by the servants, as you have already noted, but much stemming from the speeches of Juliet’s nurse and Romeo’s friend Mercutio. Of course, their humor differs as much as their character and their station in life. The nurse’s humor is bawdy , filled with crude sexual references. Mercutio can be bawdy, but his humor is generally more clever and imaginative, and is filled with plays on words. Aside from their humor, both the nurse and Mercutio are memorable in two other ways. Let’s examine their speeches now to see what is revealed about their characters.

  1. First, reread Act 1, Scene 3, lines 75-78, the nurse’s praise of Paris. Now, in Act 2 scene 5, lines 38-58, see her comments on Romeo. What do you conclude about the nurse as a judge of character? What do you conclude about her constancy?
  2. In Act 1, Scene 3, you met the nurse for the first time. Reread her speeches prompted by Lady Capulet’s simple statement that Juliet is “not fourteen” yet. What characteristic of the nurse do these speeches illustrate?
  3. What indication do you have that the nurse is sincerely fond of Juliet?
  4. Do you think the nurse is completely loyal to her employers, the Capulets? Explain.
  5. Now look first at Mercutio’s speech, Act 1, Scene 4, beginning with line 53, and his speech in the same scene, beginning with line 96. How do these speeches show him as an imaginative, well-educated man of the world?
  6. Reread Mercutio’s speeches. Act 2, Scene 1, and his speeches, Act 2, Scene 4, lines 13-17, 39-48, and 92-97. Would you say that he regards falling in love with the same seriousness that Romeo does?
  7. Mercutio’s comments to and about the nurse are disrespectful (Act 2, Scene 4). What judgment do you think he has made about her character?
  8. Friar Lawrence is a holy man, a wise man, and a practical man. Reread his opening speech, Act 2, Scene 3, as he is about to go gather herbs. In lines 9-10 he states a paradox (an apparent contradiction which actually reveals a truth). WHat is the idea he expresses?
  9. Now look at lines 17-18 in the same speech and restate the idea.
  10. From his comments to Romeo in this scene and from his closing comment in Scene 4, what indications are there that he is a practical man with a good understanding of human nature?
  11. What advice to Romeo (that Friar Lawrence repeats more than once) is in this brief speech: “Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast”?

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