Romeo and Juliet Quotes

‘Romeo and Juliet’ contain a plethora of iconic quotes. Many of which link to the numerous themes that the play explores.

Romeo and Juliet is a classic Shakespearean play noted for its wide variety of notable and memorable quotes. On this list, you can find the quotes thematically while exploring individual quotes on their merit.

Romeo and Juliet Quotes


Love and Lovers

A pair of star crossed lovers take their life.

This quote essentially sets the scene for the entire play. What this allows the audience to do is experience foreshadowing. It’s clear what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t lessen the reader’s enjoyment.

My only love sprung from my only hate,
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love is it to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.

Here, readers see Juliet’s character face the realization that she has fallen in love with a Montague. Her words here make it seem as though she is powerless to effect any change in regard to how she feels.

Take note of how she says “know too late”, if she had been aware who he was she feels she might never have fallen for him. What is also interesting is she claims that her” only love” springs from her “only hate”. However, there is never really any suggestion that she loathes the Montague family. She is supposed to because it is an ancient feud, but Juliet never displays a hateful side.

Death

They have made worms’ meat of me.

What a wonderful line this is from Mercutio. There are a couple in this section of the play. Another classic is when he says “call on me tomorrow, and you will find me a grave man”. He curses both houses as he feels they led to his death, but even as he is dying he still finds it within himself to pun and makes jokes.

Beauty

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Throughout the play, there are multiple allusions to the concept of duality. Prominent use of this is the idea of darkness and light. Romeo when discussing Juliet often draws on imagery suggesting lightness. This serves two purposes, firstly the light connotations with goodness and purity. Romeo also uses religious imagery to describe Juliet to that end. But also bear in mind the fact that Romeo and Juliet’s feat is sealed it is written in the stars. Therefore, the light references also tie in with the theme of fate.

Thy beauty hath made me effeminate
And in my temper softened valor’s steel!

This line is uttered by Romeo while he laments Mercutio’s death. He soon realizes that had he have taken part in a dual Tybalt, which the code of honor of the time dictated he should have that Mercutio would have probably lived. Romeo blames himself for Mercutio’s death and then blames his own actions on a lack of masculinity.

The idea of masculinity is represented in an interesting way here. Feminity is associated with kindness and masculinity with violence. Romeo suggests that loving Juliet has made him more feminine and less able to carry out his duties as a man. A modern-day audience would see the nobility in Romeo’s actions however a Shakespearean audience may well have considered Romeo a coward and here he gives reason for that cowardice.

Identity

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Not only is this one of the most well-known quotes from the play it is also one of the most frequently misinterpreted. This is largely down to the difference between modern English and the language of Shakespeare. This line is commonly interpreted as being Juliet asking where Romeo is as if she is looking for him.

But “wherefore” doesn’t mean where, it means why. So, Juliet is asking “why are you, Romeo.” Although this in itself is a bit strange as the purpose of this soliloquy is Juliet bemoaning the fact that she has fallen in love with a Montague. While she rightly takes issue with his name, surely it is his surname that is the issue?

What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face nor any other part
Belonging to a man. Oh, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

Once again, these are probably quite familiar words. Especially the part about “what’s in a name”. Juliet is pondering the importance of Romeo’s lineage and is attempting what we might in this day and age refer to as mental gymnastics to overcome the part of her brain that is seemingly hardwired to believe that anything related to the Montagues is bad.

She tries to make it right in her head by comparing Romeo to a rose and suggesting that if you changed a rose’s name it wouldn’t alter the things that make it what it is. Therefore, Romeo despite having a disagreeable name must also still be the person she believes him to be. What is also interesting here is that Juliet is coming across as quite besotted with Romeo because she is unaware he is listening to her. She is far more reserved when in his company.

Conflict

O calm, dishonourable, vile submission.

This is Mercutio’s response to Romeo rejecting the chance to duel with Tybalt. Mercutio does not understand why Romeo will not fight. Of course, Romeo doesn’t fight out of respect for Juliet who he has newly married. Therefore, Tybalt is effectively family. Mercutio may have felt differently had Romeo had a chance to discuss his feelings for Juliet but Mercutio knows nothing of this relationship and sees this as a pure act of cowardice on the part of Romeo. Mercutio still fights anyway as he is a proud man and does not want to lose face.

Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford / No better term than this: thou art a villain.

This is the line that Tybalt uses to try and bait Romeo into fighting him. In Elizabethan England accusing somebody of being a villain was a far greater insult than it is in the modern world. This would have been deeply provocative language.

FAQs

What is an important quote in Romeo and Juliet?

An important quote is: “Deny thy father and refuse thy name, Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet,” spoken by Juliet.

What does Juliet say to Romeo?

Her famous line is: “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” in which she’s asking him “why” he is who he is and not “where” he is.

What is the most famous scene in Romeo and Juliet?

The most famous scene is the “balcony” scene during which Juliet calls out to Romeo from her home.

About Lee-James Bovey
Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Book Analysis team member since it was first created. During the day, he's an English Teacher. During the night, he provides in-depth analysis and summary of books.
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