The Elizabethan drama was fertile soil for creative experiments. It was an era of the European Renaissance’s flowering, giving creative liberty to playwrights like Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Ben Jonson, and the most dominant of all, Shakespeare. These playwrights worked extensively to develop novel literary devices, including monologues. Romeo and Juliet Monologues were also the product of this creative upheaval.
This article shows some of the best Romeo and Juliet monologues specializing in English Literature and the Global Theatre phenomenon.
Shakespeare: A Unique Playwright
Shakespeare’s play-writing has several traits that cull him from his contemporary playwrights, for its structure, characters with dual personalities, settings, and experiments. If we assess the theme of his plays, they never belong to a single genre. They are either supernatural tragedies, or romantic comedies, or romantic tragedies.
Shakespeare has crafted 10 sublime tragedies, including Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, and the most sentimental, Romeo and Juliet. All the tragedies except Romeo and Juliet are heroic tragedies for political power based on bloodshed, conspiracies, and betrayal. But Romeo and Juliet is the tragedy of personal sentiments, two inseparable souls, and love.
Also, read No Fear Shakespeare: Top 10 Novels and Sonnets.
Romeo and Juliet Monologues: Shakespeare’s Mastery
Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love story where two lovers have to face atrocities of two families, engaged in an age-old vendetta for prodigal reasons. The two inseparable souls eventually succumb to the tormented acts, as first, Juliet kills herself with Romeo’s dagger that let Romeo commit suicide.
Critics have praised the story for presenting love with tragic fabrication. Another important aspect of the play is the use of novel literary devices, including monologues. The play is also referred to as Dramatic Monologue, as the play efficiently uses the Romeo and Juliet Monologues to express viewpoints, inner feelings, and intimate thoughts.
Juliet is the monologue or soliloquy in the opening scene of the play, where she discloses the age-old rivalry of the two families standing on her balcony. Shakespeare uses the Romeo and Juliet Monologues to describe the pain of waiting and love of Juliet during the passion and agony of Romeo. Shakespeare’s mastery lies in his perfect use of literary devices in novel ways, as no one used earlier.
Here is a list of Top 5 Romeo and Juliet Monologues that are Memorable in English Drama.
1.”But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”
Act 2, Scene 2
This is one of the initial Romeo and Juliet monologues where Romeo impatiently waits for Juliet outside her bedroom, comparing her beauty with other heavenly bodies. The setting is Capulet’s Orchard, where Romeo is engaged in a long monologue conversation with her beloved when Juliet appears in the window.
Act 2, Scene 2, opens with a long monologue by Romeo, who compares his love with heavenly bodies. He is glorifying Juliet with a monologue full of metaphors. He compares Juliet with the sun in the line, It is the east, and Juliet is the sun, and says that the moon is envious of her celestial beauty.
He also compares the impression of Juliet with the virgins in the service of Dianna in the line, and her vestal livery is but sick and green. Juliet appears as if suffering from green sickness, the disease of the virgins. She looks pale, pale with grief, sickly pale that makes the goddess Diana jealous of her, as Romeo remarks, That thou her maid art far more fair than she. The metaphoric expression proves consummate creativity with hidden messages to unveil.
He deciphers the silence of Juliet and finds his answers with Her Eyes Discourses. This monologue explains the depth, strength, and beauty of love that it doesn’t need words to express feelings. Shakespeare used this monologue as a medium of discourse as Juliet speaks, yet says nothing, with her beautiful eyes.
This monologue is a remarkable exposition of metaphors where the protagonist fabricates numerous comparisons of his beloved with the celestial bodies. Truly, when love tries to express its feelings, it leaps beyond imagination and reality.
An elegant metamorphic expression oozes when Romeo eulogizes the beauty of her eyes in the line. Having some business, do entreat her eyes, comparing them with the two fairest stars in the sky. The stars twinkle in her eyes and create the aura of the sky descending to the earth. It is one of the most romantic Romeo and Juliet prologue lines that magnifies the purest aesthetic expression.
He compares her beautiful cheeks with stars, as her beauty glows like daylight in the line. The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars. The monologue expresses Romeo’s love for aesthetics. Romeo exclaims, explaining Juliet’s beauty, As daylight doth a lamp, her eyes in heaven mesmerizes her beauty like the sun overpowers a lamp, and her beautiful eyes shine brightly. Later, in the line, Would through the airy region stream so bright, Romeo remarks that the beauty of her eyes would make the dark sky turn into the daylight and birds chirp in the night.
The most vivid comparison flashes in the line That birds would sing and think it were not night. In the 2013 movie Romeo and Juliet, you may notice the chirping of birds in the night when Juliet appears on the balcony. Romeo emerges as the admirer of Juliet’s incredible beauty in this line, creating the aura of magical realism.
In the concluding lines of the monologue, See how she leans her cheek upon her hand; desire overshadows the mirth, as Romeo aspires to be the gloves on Juliet’s hands where her face is resting. He wants to be those gloves to feel the face of his beloved, to be with her close, and feel her.
2. “O serpent heart, hid with…………”
Act 3, Scene 2
Romeo and Juliet’s monologues are spoken by Juliet in despair after hearing the news of Romeo; now, her husband indulged in vengeance for Mercutio’s murder. Juliet is divided between the love of her husband and the emotional attachment with her cousin, Tybalt. She is betrayed, surprised, and helpless to find the darkest personality traits of Romeo.
This monologue is an excellent demonstration of the use of oxymorons. For instance, Beautiful Tyrant describes the contradictory view of Juliet about her love, Romeo, who is beautiful but with dark and evil traits. The metaphorical expression is present in several remarks, like O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face, honorable villain, fiend angelical, and dove-feathered raven. All this presents the interior dispute of faith, responsibility, and unconditional love.
Shakespeare mainly used oxymorons to add dramatic effect. However, oxymorons are generally used for twofold purposes; to lighten the mood or accentuate conflict. In Romeo and Juliet monologues, in Juliet’s monologue, the device is used to strike the feud between love and responsibilities. The interior conflict of Juliet is seen in the monologue, as she blames her love, using oxymorons since she fails to reach any conclusion for Romeo’s deeds.
3. “Thou wilt be gone? It is not yet near day.”
Act 3, Scene 5
This is one of the memorable Romeo and Juliet monologues that reveals the pain of separation. In the morning after their wedding night, Juliet questions whether Romeo is there or has gone. She knows that Romeo is not safe at her house, as the family feud has brought enough bloodshed.
She is still in the sobriety of the last night’s romance and still aches for Romeo’s company. But she also knows it would be harmful to Romeo, as he has murdered Tybalt. The morning has approached, but she still wants Romeo beside her. Finally, she asks Romeo to leave.
Being one of the finest Romeo and Juliet monologues, it shows the pain of separation. It shows the feud between desire and worldly matters. Juliet’s heart demands Romeo’s company, but the intricate social situations demand his release. She tries to forge the reality by saying, It was the nightingale, and not the lark, to buy some more time with her love. Finally, they say goodbye to each other, and Romeo leaves.
A woman’s complexity of choices and responsibilities is beautifully explained in this, one of the memorable Romeo and Juliet monologues of English drama.
4. “O, shut the door, and when thou hast done so”
Act 4, Scene 1
In this scene, Paris visits Friar Lawrence and asks him about his father’s consent to marry Juliet. Juliet was listening to the conversation, humiliated and shattered. When Paris leaves, she asks her father, Friar Lawrence, that it would be better that she dies rather than marry Paris. She needs her father’s support to share the pain of separation in the line, Come weep with me, past hope, past cure……
She reveals a dagger to substantiate her decision. However, this monologue is a short one, one of the quite powerful Romeo and Juliet monologues, describing the vigor of love. It was quite revolutionary for a woman of the 13th century when Europe was still conventional about women’s social status. It was an act against male chauvinism, an act to retrieve love.
5. “Thou canst not speak……….”
Act 3, Scene 3
Romeo meets Friar Lawerence at his cell, where he receives the news about banishment. Romeo is tired and dejected, seeking some passionate stand. This is one of the depressing Romeo and Juliet monologues that describes loss and repentance.
Shakespeare has used this monologue to describe a person’s interior feud in a purgatory‘ state of mind. This is one of the remarkable Romeo and Juliet monologues that brings out the psychological aspects of a man’s expression. The playwright beautifully sketches Romeo’s isolation and separation.
Romeo says that only a person can understand himself the vigor of pain in the line, Thou canst not speak… He asks Friar Lawrence to imagine the situation and feel the agony of separation from a newlywed wife. The uncanny feeling of killing somebody. He shows his purgatory state of mind, in the line, Doting like me, and like me banishèd, where he presents his situation, unparalleled.
The Top 5 Romeo and Juliet monologues exhibit five incomparable feelings of conscience:
These sublime Romeo and Juliet monologues construct their noteworthy presence in English literature. The Romeo and Juliet monologues manifest a sublime love story surrounded by separation, feud, loss, uncertainty, and several unavoidable circumstances. Shakespeare shows his mastery of the craft in presenting these memorable Romeo and Juliet monologues to exhibit the true colors of personality.