Romeo's Monologues From "Romeo and Juliet

Claire Danes as Juliet is surprised by Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo kissing her hand

20th Century Fox / Getty Images

Many lovers of literature would crown Romeo of house Montague the prince of romance. Others believe that he's a hormone-ravaged, short-sighted twirp who kills himself four days after meeting a pretty girl. A fellow teacher is currently directing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and his main goal is to take the play to schools around Southern California to illustrate not a classic love story, but a tale of irrational and deadly decision making. Of course, if we only watched perfectly sensible characters, the theater would no longer have tragedies!

So, perhaps we can all agree, Romeo is fatally impetuous. However, the question remains: Is Romeo in love? Or is it just infatuation? Looking at some of Romeo's most significant monologues might help you make up your mind about his character.

Romeo Misses Rosaline

In this Act One monologue, Romeo laments his failures in love. He has been spurned by Rosaline, and now acts as though his heart will never mend. (Of course, in just a few scenes he will meet Juliet and change his opinion!)

Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!
Where shall we dine? O me! What fray was here?
Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire,
sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
Dost thou not laugh?

(Note: Romeo and Benvolio exchange a few lines and the monologue continues.)

Why, such is love's transgression.
Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,
Which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest
With more of thine: this love that thou hast shown
Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.
Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears:
What is it else? a madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.

Love at First Sight?

When Romeo and his buddies crash the Capulet party, he spies upon the beautiful young Juliet. He is instantly smitten. Here's what he has to say while he gazes from afar.

What lady is that, which doth
enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.

Beneath the Balcony

And then we have the most famous speech in Romeo and Juliet. Here, Romeo sneaks onto the Capulet estate and gazes up at the beautiful girl on the balcony.

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
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Bradford, Wade. "Romeo's Monologues From "Romeo and Juliet." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Bradford, Wade. (2020, August 29). Romeo's Monologues From "Romeo and Juliet. Retrieved from Bradford, Wade. "Romeo's Monologues From "Romeo and Juliet." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 31, 2023).