Shakespeare. Analysis of the “Balcony Scene” (Act II, scene 2, lines 1–187) in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, probably represented for the first time at the Curtain Theatre in London in 1595, is a timeless tragedy that explores varied and complex themes such as love, fate, the consequences of impulsive actions, hurriedness, youth, a lack of communication, and the opposition between light and darkness. One of the most emblematic scenes in the play is the so-called “Balcony scene” (Act II, Scene 2, ll. 1-187), where Romeo and Juliet express the fondness of their love for each other despite the constraints of their feuding families. This paper aims to comprehensively analyse and interpret the “Balcony Scene” by examining the characters’ behaviour, the effective use of language through figures of speech, and the unique style employed by Shakespeare.
In the “Balcony Scene,”, both Romeo and Juliet demonstrate their profound understanding of the difficult circumstances they face. They belong to two rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets, which makes their love “forbidden by the social conventions of their time, and they are aware of the danger associated with their passion. The “Prologue” warned the audience:
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; 
Of the two, Juliet is the most active, and pugnacious, she does not want to surrender to their Fate, yet she would change it. Juliet reflects upon their family feud by pondering the significance of a name:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet. 
This is a great indication of her passionate character. Juliet feels unconsciously the powerful significance of Bernard of Cluny’s sentence: Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus (“the primigenial rose exists before its name; we know and own only bare names”). A name does not have any substance; it is not an arm or a face, so much so that she would love Romeo even if he were called another name. Names are the external look, what matters in true love is the essence, the soul. The same could be said about the family feud: it was born because of the two different family names and is void of any meaning. It was a pure, arbitrary element that unleashed such a long quarrel. Moreover, logically concluding her thoughts, it has nothing to do with their love. Indeed, it is Juliet who has a clear understanding of the situation, and thanks to her determination and self-confidence, she guides Romeo to accept the status quo as it is. He will renounce his name and be called exactly what he is: love. Romeo hates his name, but is used to judging reality based on its labelling, does not find any other definition of himself except by deleting his name: I know not how to tell thee who I am  when she asks him to reveal himself.
Then Juliet reverses all the clichés of “courtly love”. If she were not protected by the night, he would notice the maiden blush on her cheeks. And if she had been able to, she would have behaved differently. But, dragged by the sudden passion, she yielded to love. So, when she asks if Romeo loves her, she quite begs that he be fair, honest, and not for conventions but faithfully. This is not “light” love but deep and true affection, beyond all social conventions.
Juliet here and elsewhere reveals a strong and determined character, more mature and independent than Romeo. Yet she demands a true engagement from Romeo. From her side, hers is not “light” behaviour, and if he thinks that she is too quickly won, she will tell him she does not love him; in this way, the ballet of wooing would start. This is not apt for them, true lovers, others are cleverer and cleverer at this game.
It feels like a much stronger determination to be together, ignoring all the dangerous consequences of their choice.
Shakespeare. Analysis of Language and Figures of Speech
Shakespeare’s masterful use of language and figures of speech in the “Balcony Scene” adds depth and beauty to the lovers’ exchange. Juliet’s soliloquy is particularly noteworthy as she expresses her thoughts and emotions.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose 45
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee, 50
Take all myself.
Juliet expresses freely all her passions within the limits of Renaissance decorum (take all myself).
To disclose even the two lovers’ most hidden feelings, Shakespeare employs several figures of speech. They stand out so much because they share a character of novelty—a choice of words never used up until that moment to speak about love. When they do share traditional imagery, their elaboration is Shakespeare’s own. The most expressive figure of speech is metaphor.
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. 5
as Romeo compares Juliet to the sun. This metaphor not only exalts Romeo’s admiration for Juliet but also emphasises her radiant presence in his life. It needs to recall the play’s theme of light and darkness, according to which Juliet is brilliant and splendid and spreads light everywhere around her. In another part of the tragedy, describing her, Romeo says:
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Etiop’s ear -
So beautiful and fairylike is Juliet that she seems like a pearl hanging on the night’s earlobe, with the same effect as a pearl on an Ethiopian (that is, a woman of black skin)’s cheek would cause.
The other poignant figure of the speech is personification, which makes the Universe around Romeo and Juliet come alive because all of the cosmos participate in their adventure.
Still, in the lines quoted before, you can read that the moon “is envious”, even sick,” because her maid, Juliet, is more beautiful than she is. In the myth, the moon is the goddess Artemis or Diana, who was a wonderful woman of incomparable beauty. In the picture, the sensation is exactly that of a cosmos, which, like a living being, participates in the two lovers’ affairs. Furthermore, Juliet utilises personification when she addresses Romeo’s absence:
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. 
By giving human qualities to Romeo’s name and identity, Juliet separates the outlook from the essence of her lover and, we may say, creates a new being who is no longer her enemy. The significance is deeper than how it appears to be: we must always search for the hidden qualities of people before judging them, before starting a feud or a quarrel, because the two sides—inside and outside—are combined only in an arbitrary way and do not correspond one to the other. Therefore, their love has its strength and will overcome every obstacle.
Also, Romeo’s language is rich in imagery. He uses hyperbole to describe Juliet’s beauty, proclaiming:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return
We can’t avoid noticing that the theme of stars is present in these lines. To make it synthetic, stars represent the influence of Fate upon human destinies, so much so that they determine their lives. Yet, for humans, there is still the possibility of making choices that, anyway, lead to the defined outcome. 
Additionally, Romeo engages in wordplays and puns throughout the scene, which surely make his wit stand out, but, more truly, they are stuffed with Stilnovistic terminology, rendering Romeo a more stereotyped character than Juliet. For instance, when Juliet questions how he found her balcony, Romeo replies:
With love’s light wings did I o’er-perch these walls
For stony limits cannot hold love out;
A curious note: “overperched” is a word invented by Shakespeare to render the idea of love flying to Juliet’s balcony. Romeo also suggests that his love for Juliet empowers him to overcome any obstacle.
Shakespeare. Style and Dramatic Technique
Shakespeare’s unique style and employment of dramatic techniques elevate the emotional impact of the “Balcony Scene.” The use of soliloquies allows the characters to express their innermost thoughts and desires, providing insight into their psyches. The soliloquy form enables the audience to intimately connect with the characters, deepening the emotional resonance of the scene.
Furthermore, Shakespeare’s use of poetic language, such as iambic pentameter and rhymed verse, adds musicality and rhythm to the dialogue. This lyrical quality enhances the romantic atmosphere of the scene and underscores the intensity of Romeo and Juliet’s love. The exchange of lines between the characters also highlights their emotional harmony and spiritual connection. Their shared sonnet, in which they alternate lines, creates a sense of unity and completes each other’s thoughts, symbolising their emotional and intellectual compatibility. 
Moreover, Shakespeare employs dramatic irony to heighten tension and foreshadow the tragic outcome of the play. Sometimes this is obtained by picking up now and then on the major themes of the play, such as hurriedness, youth, feeling versus rationality, and fate. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet takes place in less than a week, an extraordinarily short period. They want to get married immediately after they meet. Impulses drive Romeo to kill Tybalt, causing his exile to Mantua. Their invincible love is nevertheless enveloped in a dark cloud of foreboding, signalled at the beginning of the story by the adjective “star-crossed”. In addition, the lack of communication makes the story go astray; the messages do not reach the addressee, and Romeo doesn’t wait a minute before taking the poison, provoking Juliet’s death.
All this considered, the spectator is entranced by this unique love but at the same time oppressed by a sense of ineluctability that may have the cathartic power to instil doubt about whether such love is true or even allowable. Moreover, the audience feels the urge to remind the lovers of the impending conflict between their families, seeing it as a sign of bad luck. All in all, the audience’s emotional engagement is always kept alive.
The “Balcony scene” in Romeo and Juliet is a masterful display of Shakespeare’s craftsmanship. Through their comprehension of the situation, effective use of language with figures of speech, and unique stylistic choices, Romeo and Juliet’s love is elevated to a profound and poetic level. This scene encapsulates the essence of their passionate and forbidden love, setting the stage for the tragic events that follow. Shakespeare’s ability to capture the complexities of human emotion through language and style continues to resonate with audiences, making the “Balcony Scene” an enduring and iconic moment in literary history.
Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet and modern times
The relevance of the “Balcony scene” in Romeo and Juliet for a modern audience lies in its exploration of timeless themes and its portrayal of forbidden love. Despite being written over four centuries ago, the scene’s emotional resonance and the universal nature of its themes continue to captivate and engage audiences today. Here are a few reasons why the scene remains relevant:
- Forbidden Love and Societal Constraints: The theme of forbidden love is something that still resonates with modern audiences. Romeo and Juliet’s love transcends societal boundaries and familial feuds, highlighting the power of love to overcome obstacles. This theme resonates with individuals who may face barriers to their relationships due to cultural, religious, or social constraints. The “Balcony scene” reminds us of the complexity of love and the challenges that individuals may encounter in pursuing it.
- Authenticity and Intensity of Emotions: The “Balcony Scene” depicts the intense emotions experienced by Romeo and Juliet as they confess their love for each other. Their dialogue captures the rawness and authenticity of their feelings, which is relatable to audiences today. In a world where emotions are often suppressed or masked, the scene serves as a reminder of the transformative power of love and the courage it takes to express one’s true emotions.
- Balancing Tradition and Personal Desire: The “Balcony Scene” raises questions about the conflict between personal desires and societal expectations. Romeo and Juliet challenge the conventions of their time and question the significance of their names and family affiliations. This theme resonates with individuals who find themselves torn between their aspirations and the expectations placed on them by society or their families.
- Communication and Connection: The “Balcony Scene” exemplifies the power of effective communication and connection in relationships. Despite the physical and social barriers that separate them, Romeo and Juliet establish a deep emotional connection through their exchange of words. In a digital age where communication has become increasingly impersonal, the scene reminds us of the importance of genuine human connection and the impact of meaningful conversations.
- Tragic Consequences of Impulsive Actions or Hurriedness: The “Balcony Scene” foreshadows the tragic outcome of the play, serving as a cautionary tale about the consequences of impulsive actions driven by intense emotions. This resonates with a modern audience that understands the potential repercussions of hasty decisions made in the heat of passion.
- Immortality of Art: Romeo and Juliet have remained and will remain untouched in the universal memory, their tragedy will be represented again and again, and different audiences in different times have been learning and will learn that life is a series of personal choices, made in complete awareness, unconsciously accepting one’s destiny.
In conclusion, the “Balcony scene” in Romeo and Juliet remains relevant for a modern audience due to its exploration of forbidden love, the authenticity of emotions portrayed, its examination of the conflict between personal desires and societal expectations, its emphasis on communication and connection, and its depiction of the tragic consequences of impulsive actions. The scene’s enduring relevance lies in its ability to speak to universal human experiences and emotions, making it relatable and captivating for audiences across generations.
Shakespeare. Arden Shakespeare the ufficial publisher for Shakespeare
This is the cover of Romeo and Juliet published by Arden Shakespeare, the ufficial publisher for Shakespeare. The name of the company is taken from Shakespeare’s mother, whose name was Mary Arden. She was the youngest of eight daughters. Mary’s father, Robert Arden, was a member of the Guild of the Holy Cross, an important communal Stratford institution. When he died, Robert left Mary a significant amount of land in Wilmcote together with a sum of £6 13s 4d (equivalent to £30,000 in current value(!). William Skakespeare had 7 brothers and sisters.
Shakespeare. The Best film ever made from the play Romeo and Juliet
There is little doubt that the best film ever of Romeo and Juliet is the one directed by Franco Zeffirelli in 1968 starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. Here below you find the comment from Screen Rant: Movie News, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailers, TV News
“It’s difficult to imagine there will ever be a more definitive film version of Shakespeare’s most celebrated play than this 1968 version. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring inspired amateurs Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, this simple but effective production is Romeo and Juliet at its most pure and essential. The freshness of Hussey and Whiting, so close to the actual ages of their characters, translates to the most primal depiction of the lovers’ breathless teenage fling as the screen has ever seen. The balcony scene, which sees Hussey practically throwing herself over the edge to kiss Whiting’s Romeo, immediately removes any staid preconceived notions about Shakespeare’s writings and boils the central spine of the play down to its most relatable essence, that this is ultimately the story of two kids in love. The surrounding production matches the sensuality of the performances; Danilo Donati’s costumes justifiably won an Oscar, and Nino Rota, composer of The Godfather, wrote a love theme that’s just the right amount of ravishing and haunted. As long as the story of these original star-crossed lovers is able to elicit emotions from an audience, Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet will remain its greatest cinematic adaptation.”
The second best is Romeo + Juliet, a modern version of the tragedy with Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes, directed by Luz Luhrmann. Here is the comment from Screen Rant: Movie News, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailers, TV News
“As polarizing as any film Baz Luhrmann ever made, Romeo + Juliet famously modernizes the Bard’s play, setting it on Verona Beach and transforming the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets into a full-blown mafia war. The film’s frantic, MTV style is sure to alienate many, but it also serves to create one of the only truly successful films at capturing the full muscularity of Shakespeare’s writing. Luhrmann’s operatic sensibility, which swings from low comedy to high romance at the drop of a hat, is a perfect match for a playwright who was as adept at capturing the breathless infatuation of true love as entertaining the drunken groundlings who sat in the front row. The spirit of Shakespeare is what Baz is after here, and thus a transposition of Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech into a drag queen performance of “Young Hearts Run Free” feels totally fair game. Sure, he could ease up on the machine gun-style editing, and some of the more “clever” additions, like guns branded “Sword” or a delivery company called “Post Haste,” read more cutesy than necessary. However, Lurhmann also knows when to slow things down and rely on his performers. Leonardo DiCaprio was still a year out from playing Jack in Titanic, but his heartthrob status began with his dreamy, impassioned performance here as Romeo, and Claire Danes is one of the finest screen Juliets to ever take the role. Their meeting through a fish tank, scored by Des’ree’s “Kissing You,” is one of cinema’s most heart-stopping love-at-first-sight moments, and their dynamite chemistry grounds the film right through to its shatteringly tragic finale.”
- W. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, The Prologue, ll. 5-6.
- Idem, Act. 2, sc. 2 ll.43-44).
- Ibidem, l. 19
- Idem, Act 2, sc. 2, ll.1-5.
- Idem, Act 1, sc. 5, ll. 2-3.
- Idem, Act 2, sc. 2, ll. 36-38.
- Idem, Act 2, sc. 2, ll. 15-17.
- As to this, the theme of Destiny and Fate is strongly present in Thomas Hardy’s works, quite three centuries after Shakespeare’s death, and in the works of other artists, in a more or less open way, bringing about a problem that has been troubling humans since at least the Middle Ages.
- Idem, Act 2, sc. 2, 66-67.
- See Act 1, Sc. 5, ll. 92-106