If you’ve ever read Shakespeare, you’ll notice the actors talk to themselves a lot. These soliloquies give us insight into the character's thoughts and feelings. Explore examples of soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet.
When you think of soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet, your mind might instantly go to that famous balcony scene. Romeo looks up a Juliet and says, “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” Even if you don’t like William Shakespeare, the line is so ingrained in literature that you probably know it. However, did you realize that it is the beginning of a famous soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet? A soliloquy is a famous speech a character in a play makes to give readers and viewers an idea of their inner thoughts. These speeches are typically made while they are alone.
Soliloquies are important because in a play, it’s hard to see a person’s inner thoughts and feelings, even with the best of actors. So a soliloquy doesn’t leave the audience guessing, but instead tells them.
Shakespeare isn’t the only playwright to include soliloquies in his plays, but he is one of the most famous. And he did it in poetic verse. Now that is talent.
If you are looking for a Romeo and Juliet soliloquy example, you won’t be disappointed. That’s because they are included in every act within the play. Get an analysis of some of Romeo and Juliet’s most famous soliloquies in each act.
In Act 1, Scene 5, you’ll find one of Romeo’s famous first soliloquies.
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.
Through Romeo’s speech you see his true feelings about his first glimpse of Juliet. She’s so beautiful he doesn’t even have the words to describe her. This is the first glimpse viewers get into Romeo’s love at first sight.
In Act 2, Scene 2, you’ll find the one of the most important and longest lasting soliloquies of the play. It’s Romeo’s famous balcony scene.
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:
That I might touch that cheek!
Since first spying her at the ball, Romeo has been yearning to see Juliet. And, he finally does. You get a glimpse into his admiration and love for Juliet through comparing Juliet to the sun and her eyes to stars. Without this soliloquy, it would be really hard to get into Romeo’s head and understand his feelings.
Romeo is full of soliloquies, but in Act 3, Scene 2, Juliet shows us how she feels.
Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging: such a wagoner
As Phaethon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
But Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence.
Juliet is impatient to see Romeo! Therefore, the day is dragging on. It’s like 4 o’clock on a Friday when you swear the clock is moving backwards. She’s impatient for Romeo to come so she wants the day to end. And through her impatience, viewers are able to see Juliet’s feelings about her love affair with Romeo.
Juliet is having a few fears about the Friar’s mixture in Act 4, Scene 3.
Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again.
I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins,
That almost freezes up the heat of life:
I'll call them back again to comfort me:
Nurse! What should she do here?
My dismal scene I needs must act alone.
Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.
Juliet is a bit unsure about the vial she’s going to take. And you see here fears come to life as she weighs the different pros and cons. However, in the end, she decides Romeo is worth it. Drinking the potion, she falls to her bed.
Romeo doesn’t just die in the play. Instead in Act 5, Scene 3, he tells us exactly how he feels before his final kiss with Juliet.
How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry, which their keepers call
A lightning before death! Oh, how may I
Call this a lightning?—O my love, my wife!
Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.
This is Romeo’s death scene. Through his soliloquy, you get a glimpse inside his thoughts and feelings before he kisses Juliet to die. He goes into some depth about how he feels about Juliet and his need to stay with her forever.
This is far from an all encompassing list when it comes to soliloquies in Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the play, you’ll find about a dozen or so of them. However, each one provides the viewer with important insight into the character's thoughts, feelings, and psyche that would be hard to understand without their words. These thoughts and feelings can help you see the themes in Romeo and Juliet. Having a hard time muddling through the English of Shakespeare’s plays? Give the Shakespeare translator a try. It can make dissecting soliloquies in Romeo and Juliet a bit easier.