Top 7 Quotes Explained
"A plague o' both your houses!" (3.1.104)
What does it mean? Tension between the Montague and Capulet families has been mounting until a fight erupts in the streets. Romeo's best friend, Mercutio, goads Tybalt Capulet into a duel. Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalt, who runs away. Mercutio curses both families in his final words, wishing a plague on both families. Mercutio's words foreshadows the loss that both families will soon feel.
"O! I am Fortune's fool!" (3.1.133)
What does it mean? After Tybalt and Mercutio die, Benvolio tells Romeo that Prince Paris will probably doom him to death if he's caught. Romeo calls himself Fortune's fool. Romeo is discreetly referencing the prologue, where the audience learns that Romeo and Juliet are fated for misfortune. But Romeo also feels Fortune is being especially cruel; he just got married, and he might be put to death. His words bring the idea of fate and destiny back into the audience's mind.
"For never was a story of more woe [t]han this of Juliet and her Romeo." (5.3.317-318)
What does it mean? In the last two lines of the play, Prince Escalus remarks on the lives of Juliet and Romeo. He's saying that no other tale has been this sad. While Escalus is right, his words also allow for the enduring quality of Romeo and Juliet's love. Their classic love story has been told and retold to every generation since first hitting the stage in 1594.
The following quotes are part of the famous balcony scene — Act II, Scene II — when Romeo and Juliet agree to elope. Some of the most quoted lines from Shakespeare are from this scene
"But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!" (2.2.2-3)
What does it mean? Romeo, our young hero, already loves Juliet. In his words of adoration, he compares Juliet to a sunrise. Juliet hasn't seen Romeo below her window; she has no idea Romeo is even on her family's grounds. The important thing to take away is Romeo's use of language. Throughout the play, Romeo associates Juliet with 'light' imagery. He finds her love to be bright, sunny, and warm.
"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" (2.2.33)
What does it mean? Juliet is thinking about Romeo and his family ties. In Shakespearean times, "wherefore" meant "why". Juliet is asking why Romeo is a Montague. Although Juliet is unaware that Romeo is in the orchard below, she accurately points out a primary conflict in their relationship; their families probably won't accept or approve of their marriage.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other word would smell as sweet." (2.2.43-44)
What does it mean? Still thinking about names, Juliet expresses a very modern idea. Your name does not define you. In her world, your name — or the family that you come from — sets out how people view you. The idea that you should be judged solely on your own merit is a progressive idea for the setting that showcases Juliet's rebellious and modern streak.
"Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." (2.2.185-186)
What does it mean? In her farewell, Juliet expresses her sorrow about being away from her love, Romeo. But their parting is sweet, because the next time they meet, their wedding will take place.