Romeo and Juliet By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act II: Prologue

Summary

Act II opens with a prologue in sonnet form that highlights two key points: how Romeo is affected by meeting Juliet and the difficulties the lovers will face as members of two opposed families.

Analysis

The opening lines of the Prologue address the speed with which Romeo and Juliet have fallen in love, while poking fun at the way Romeo has abandoned his pursuit of Rosaline.

The Prologue does little to enhance the story and is often omitted when the play is performed. Many critics feel that a different author added the Prologue at some point after the play was originally written. Nonetheless, this introductory material serves to distinguish between Romeo's cold, miserable, unrequited love for Rosaline and his true, intensely mutual love with Juliet.

Unlike the first Prologue, this one speaks less of fate; rather, it helps to build suspense. "But passion lends them power, time means, to meet / Temp'ring extremities with extreme sweet." Romeo and Juliet forge onward in pursuit of their love — empowered to dare cross thresholds that have before been barriers.

Glossary

foe supposed that is, because Juliet is a Capulet.

complain lament as a lover.

she steal . . . hooks emphasizes the pleasures and dangers of Romeo and Juliet's love for each other. The love is a sweet bait or lure and the fearful hooks allude to Romeo's status as a Montague.

use are accustomed to.

tempering . . . extreme sweet mixing the difficulties facing Romeo and Juliet's relationship with love. Tempering refers to the process used to make steel, and here it is implied that Romeo and Juliet's love is strengthened by the obstacles they face as members of opposing families.

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