Summary and Analysis
Act II: Scene 6
Romeo and Friar Laurence wait for Juliet, and again the Friar warns Romeo about the hastiness of his decision to marry. Romeo agrees, but boldly challenges "love-devouring death" to destroy his euphoria. The friar then warns,
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume
Juliet arrives and the Friar takes them into the church to be married.
The wedding scene is notable for its brevity and pervasive atmosphere of impending doom. Images of happiness and marriage are repeatedly paired with images of violence and death. Romeo believes that not even death can counteract the pleasure he feels in marrying Juliet. This speech reflects both the impetuous and tragic nature of Romeo's love. Although he is unhesitating in his desire to be married to Juliet, Romeo's challenge to fate is prophetic and full of dramatic irony because it foreshadows his final speech in Act V, Scene 3, when death triumphs over both protagonists.
The explosive image in the Friar's "violent ends" speech recalls Montague's question in Act I, Scene 1, after the brawl: "Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?" The term "abroach" was used to describe the way in which a barrel of gunpowder would be pierced to allow the contents to pour out and form a trail. The Friar's words are prophetic because he draws parallels between the destructive passion of Romeo and Juliet and the feud that will cause the violent deaths of Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Tybalt, and Paris.
countervail to match or equal.
gossamers filmy cobwebs floating in the air or spread on bushes or grass.
vanity earthly pleasures or happiness.
blazen declare or celebrate.