David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 5

— 3.5 —

Romeo and Juliet had enjoyed their wedding night together, and now it was almost morning.

Juliet said, “Are you leaving now? It is not yet close to morning. We just now heard the cry of the nightingale and not the morning lark. Each night, the nightingale sings on the pomegranate tree outside. Believe me, Romeo, you heard the cry of the nightingale.”

“No, Juliet,” Romeo said. “We heard the cry of the lark, the announcer of morning. It was no nightingale. Look, my love, streaks of light reveal the clouds in the East. They announce that for now we must end the happiness of our being together. The stars — the candles of night — have burnt out. The day that makes many people happy now reveals the tops of misty mountains. I must be gone from Verona and live, or stay in Verona and die.”

“The light you see is not daylight,” Juliet said. “I know that it is not. It is instead the light of one of the shooting stars that will give you light on your way to Mantua, and therefore you need not leave yet.”

“Let me be captured and put to death,” Romeo joked. “I am happy for that to happen if that is what you want. Just as you wish, I will say that the light I see is not the beginning of dawn. And I will say that the bird I heard so high above our heads is not the morning lark. I have more desire to stay with you than I have will to leave. Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so. Isn’t that right, my love? Let us continue to talk — it is not yet dawn.”

Realizing that Romeo was in real danger of being killed if he were captured after dawn, Juliet exclaimed, “It is dawn! It is! Leave! Go to Mantua! Do not stay any longer in Verona! It is the lark that sings so out of tune. Its sounds are harsh discords and unpleasing sharps. Some people say that the lark makes sweet divisions — sweet variations on a melody — but the lark does not make sweet divisions because it divides us. Some people believe that because the beautiful lark has ugly eyes and the ugly toad has beautiful eyes, therefore the two must have traded eyes. I wish that the two had traded voices, too. Why should the lark have a beautiful voice when that voice takes us out of each other’s arms! It announces that you must leave me now. Oh, leave now and be safe — it grows more and more light!”

“The morning grows more and more light; our woes grow more and more dark,” Romeo said.

The Nurse entered Juliet’s bedchamber and said, “Juliet, your mother is coming here to speak to you.”

The Nurse said to Romeo, “The morning has broken. Beware and be careful. Your life is in danger.”

The Nurse left.

Juliet said, “Romeo, climb out through the window, which will all too soon let daylight in.”

Romeo said, “Goodbye! One last kiss, and then I will leave.”

He kissed her and climbed through the window but did not leave Juliet quite yet.

“You have left me so soon,” Juliet said. “Husband, I must hear from you every day in the hour, for in a minute there are many days.”

She mourned, “By this way of counting, I shall be very old the next time I see my Romeo.”

“Goodbye,” Romeo said. “I will omit no opportunity to send my love to you, Juliet.”

“Do you think that we shall ever again meet?” Juliet asked.

“I am positive that we will meet again,” Romeo replied. “We will tell stories about all of our current troubles to our grandchildren someday.”

Romeo climbed down into Old Capulet’s garden.

“I have a foreboding of evil,” Juliet said. “As I now look down at you, you seem to be like a dead person at the bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight is playing tricks on me, or you seem pale like a corpse.”

“My love,” Romeo said, “in my eyes you also seem pale right now. Our sorrows make us appear to be bloodless and so we lose our ruddy hue. Goodbye, Juliet, my wife.”

He departed.

“Fortune, people call you fickle,” Juliet said. “They say that you are changeable. If you are changeable, what fortune is going to happen to Romeo, who does not change and who is honored for being faithful? I hope that you are fickle, fortune. We have had bad fortune, and good fortune will not keep Romeo long away from me but will bring him back to me quickly.”

Mrs. Capulet called, “Juliet, are you awake and up?”

“Who is calling me?” Juliet said to herself. “Is it my mother? Has she not gone to bed tonight, or is she up very early? It is unusual for her to be up and talking to me so early. She must have something important to say to me.”

Mrs. Capulet entered Juliet’s bedchamber and asked, “How are you, Juliet?”

“I am not well.”

“Are you continuing to cry for Tybalt’s death?” Mrs. Capulet asked. “Are you trying to wash him from his grave with your tears? Even if you could do that, you would not be able to make him live again. Therefore, stop crying. Some grief shows that you love him, but excessive grief shows a lack of good sense.”

“Please let me cry for such a loss I feel with all my heart,” Juliet said.

“If you cry, you will feel the loss bitterly, but you will not bring back the person for whom you are crying.”

“Mother, I feel the loss so bitterly that I must cry.”

“Juliet, I think that you are crying not so much over your cousin Tybalt as you are over the fact that the villain who killed Tybalt is still alive.”

“What villain?”


Juliet said,“The villain and he are many miles apart. God pardon him! I do, with all my heart. And yet no man like he does grieve my heart.”

Mrs. Capulet understood this to mean, “The villain Romeo and Tybalt are many miles apart. God pardon the late Tybalt! I do, with all my heart. And yet no man so much as Tybalt does grieve my heart because he has died.”

But Juliet knew that to herself, her ambiguous words meant, The word “villain” and Romeo are many miles apart — Romeo is not a villain! God pardon Romeo! I do, with all my heart. And yet no man so much as Romeo does grieve my heart because he is banished from Verona and my presence.

Mrs. Capulet said, “You should say, ‘And yet no man so much as Romeo does grieve my heart because he is still alive.’”

Juliet said, “I grieve because Romeo is far from the reach of these my hands. I wish that no one but I might avenge Tybalt’s death!”

Mrs. Capulet understood these words to mean that Juliet would like to kill Romeo, but she grieves because he is no longer in Verona and so she cannot kill him.

But Juliet knew that to herself, her ambiguous words meant, I grieve because I can no longer see Romeo, and I would like to be the only person who could avenge Tybalt’s death against Romeo because then Romeowould be safe and in no danger.

Mrs. Capulet said, “Don’t worry. We will have vengeance for the death of Tybalt, so you need not cry because Tybalt’s death has not been avenged. I am going to send a man to Mantua, where the exiled scoundrel Romeo is said to be fleeing. The man I send to Romeo will give him a drink so poisonous that very quickly Romeo will keep Tybalt company in death. Then, I hope, you will be happy.”

Juliet said, “Indeed, I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, until I behold him … dead … is my poor heart for a kinsman vexed. Mother, if you could find a man to bear a poison, I would temper it, so that Romeo should, upon receipt thereof, soon sleep in quiet. Oh, how my heart hates to hear him named, and cannot come to him to wreak the love I bore my cousin upon the body of the man who slaughtered him!”

Juliet again used ambiguous words, some of which had two meanings.

This is what Mrs. Capulet heard: “Indeed, I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, until I behold him dead — dead is my poor heart for a kinsman [Tybalt] vexed. Mother, if you could find a man to bear a poison, I would temper [mix] it, so that Romeo should, upon receipt thereof, soon sleep in quiet [die]. Oh, how my heart hates to hear him named, and cannot come to him to wreak [avenge] the love I bore my cousin upon the body of the man who slaughtered him!”

But Juliet knew that to herself, her ambiguous words meant, Indeed, I never shall be satisfiedwith Romeo, until I behold him — dead is my poor heart for a kinsman [Romeo] vexed.Mother, if you could find a manto bear a poison, I would temper [weaken] it, so that Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,soon sleep in quiet [take a nap]. Oh, how my heart hatesto hear him named, and cannot come to himto wreak [give expression to] the love I bore my cousinupon the body of the man who slaughtered him!

“You get the poison, and I’ll get a man to give it to Romeo,” Mrs. Capulet said. “But right now I have good news for you, girl.”

“Good news is welcome in such joyless times as these,” Juliet said. “What is your good news?”

“You have a father who loves you,” Mrs. Capulet said. “He knows that you have been grieving, and to take away your sadness he gives you a day of joy — a day that neither you nor I expected.”

“What day is that?”

“Early Thursday morning, a gallant, young, and noble gentleman, Count Paris, at Saint Peter’s Church, will happily make you a happy bride.”

Shocked, Juliet replied, “By Saint Peter’s Church and by St. Peter, too, he will not make me there a joyful bride! I wonder at this haste — why must I wed before I am wooed? Mother, I beg you to tell my father that I will not marry yet; and, when I do marry, I swear that my groom shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, rather than Paris. Your news is shocking, not joyful.”

Her mother told her, “Here comes your father; tell him so yourself, and see how he will take it.”

Old Capulet and the Nurse entered Juliet’s bedchamber.

Looking at Juliet, who was crying, Old Capulet said, “When the Sun sets, the air drizzles dew. But now, for the sunset of Tybalt, my brother’s son, it rains downright.”

He said to Juliet, “Your eyes are the source of conduits. Still in tears? Is your face forever showering? With your body you are imitating a ship, a sea, and a wind. Your eyes, like a sea, ebb and flow with tears. Your body is a ship sailing in this salt flood of tears. Your sighs are the winds. Your sighs and your tears — which never cease — will sink your storm-tossed body.”

To his wife, he asked, “What is going on here? Haven’t you told our daughter about her upcoming marriage to Paris?”

“I have indeed, but she won’t have it. She says thanks, but no, thanks. I wish the fool were married to her grave!”

“Let me make sure I understand what you are saying,” Old Capulet said. “She refuses to be married and she refuses to thank us for arranging such a splendid marriage? Isn’t Juliet elated to marry Paris? Doesn’t she realize how blessed she is to have so worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom? Doesn’t she realize that she is unworthy of such a splendid marriage?”

“I am not pleased that you have arranged a marriage for me,” Juliet said, “but I am thankful that you have arranged a marriage for me out of your love for me. I hate the marriage that you have arranged for me, but I am thankful for what I hate because I know that you arranged the marriage for me because you love me.”

“What are you saying?” Old Capulet said. “You are not making sense: ‘Thanks, but no thanks’? Girl, thank me no thankings, but know that on Thursday you and Paris will go to Saint Peter’s Church and know that there will be a wedding. Fettle your limbs for a wedding, girl. We fettle — that is, groom — a horse. Like a horse, your limbs will be ridden. If you can’t force yourself to go to church, I can force you to go. If I have to, I will drag you there on a hurdle just as if I were taking you to an execution — your execution, you pale-faced girl!”

Knowing that her husband had gone too far, Mrs. Capulet said to him, “Are you insane?”

Juliet said, “Father, I beg you on my knees to listen patiently to what I have to say.”

Old Capulet was not in a listening mood: “Headstrong, disobedient girl! I’ll tell you what! Either go to church and get married on Thursday, or never after see me! Speak not! Reply not! Do not answer me! I want to slap you!”

To his wife, he said, “We hardly thought that we were blessed to have only one child left living, but now I see that this one is one too many. We are cursed in having her for our daughter! She is worthless!”

The Nurse said to Old Capulet, “God in Heaven bless her! You are to blame, my lord, for criticizing her so.”

“And why am I at fault, my lady wisdom?” Old Capulet said. “Hold your tongue, my lady prudence. If you want to say something, go and gossip with your friends!”

“I speak no treason,” the Nurse replied.

“Bull!” Old Capulet said.

“May not one speak?”

“Peace, you mumbling fool! Share your wisdom with your friends — but here and now, shut up!”

Mrs. Capulet told her husband, “You are too angry. You are overreacting.”

“Damn!” Old Capulet said. “I have a right to be angry! During day and night, during hour and season, during work and play, and alone or among company, I have been doing my best to get Juliet a good husband. Now I have found for her a gentleman of noble parentage, with wealthy estates, youthful, and well connected, handsome and with a manly figure. But what happens! My daughter acts like a wretched, whimpering fool! She acts like a whining, mentally feeble puppet! An excellent groom is handed to her, and she replies, ‘I will not marry him. I cannot love him. I am too young. Pardon me.’”

He said to Juliet, “If you will not marry Paris, the kind of pardon I will give you is one you will not enjoy. Yes, you will not have to marry Paris, but no, you will not be allowed to eat or live in this house. Eat and live wherever you can — you shall not eat or live here. Think about what I am saying — you know that this is not a joke. Thursday is coming soon. Consider well my words — take them to heart. You are my daughter, and I will marry you to whomever I wish. If you refuse the marriage, then go hang yourself, beg, starve — die in the streets, for all I care! If you refuse the marriage, you will no longer be my daughter. I will not acknowledge that I am your father, and nothing that I own will ever do you good. Believe what I am telling you! I swear that it is the truth!”

Old Capulet left Juliet’s bedchamber.

Juliet said, “Can no one pity me and see my grief? Mother, don’t cast me aside! Delay this marriage for a month, a week; or, if you do not, make my bridal bed in that dim tomb where Tybalt lies.”

“Don’t talk to me,” Mrs. Capulet said. “I will not speak a word on your behalf. Do whatever you want to do, for I am done with you.”

Mrs. Capulet left Juliet’s bedchamber.

Juliet said to the Nurse, “How can we stop this marriage! I already have a husband on Earth. Our vow of marriage is recorded in Heaven. How can that vow of marriage end, freeing me to marry again, unlessRomeo dies and enters Heaven? Nurse, give me some comfort. Nurse, give me some good advice. Why is Heaven sending such misfortune to me, who am so weak? Talk to me, Nurse. Do you have even one word of comfort for me?”

“Yes, I do,” the Nurse said. “I have advice that I hope will comfort you. Romeo has been banished from Verona, and he will never return to claim you as his wife. Even if he were to return, it would be secretly. Since this is the case, I think it is best that you marry Count Paris — oh, he’s a lovely gentleman! Romeo is a dishrag compared to him. Not even an eagle has so attractive, so lively, so beautiful eyes as does Paris. I think this second groom surpasses your first groom, but even if he did not, your first groom is dead to you, or at least as good as dead to you. After all, you are here and he is in exile. You are not able to live together as husband and wife.”

Juliet asked, “Are you speaking from your heart?”

“Yes, and from my soul, too,” the Nurse said.

Juliet realized that no comfort could come to her from the Nurse, who had just advised her to commit bigamy. Better advice might come from Friar Lawrence.

Juliet said, “Amen.”

“What?” the Nurse asked.

“You have comforted me marvelously much,” Juliet said. “Go and tell my mother that I regret having displeased my father, and so I have left to go to Friar Lawrence so that I may confess my sins and receive absolution.”

“Yes, I will do as you say,” the Nurse replied. “You are acting very sensibly.”

The Nurse left Juliet’s bedchamber.

“That damned old woman!” Juliet said. “She is a very wicked fiend! What is her worst sin? To advise me to commit bigamy and be unfaithful to Romeo, my husband? Or to dispraise my husband after she has praised him beyond compare so many thousands of times previously? Go, Nurse. From here on, you and I shall be separate. You will no longer be my confidant. I will go to Friar Lawrence to seek his advice. If I have no other way to stop this marriage, I can commit suicide.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved





David Bruce’s Lulu Bookstore (Paperbacks)

David Bruce’s Amazon Author Bookstore

David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore

David Bruce’s Apple Bookstore

David Bruce’s Barnes and Noble Books

David Bruce’s Kobo Books

davidbruceblog #1

davidbruceblog #2

davidbruceblog #3

This entry was posted in Shakespeare and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s