What does she mean?

Ok, in the balcony scene (in Romeo and Juliet) Juliet says

What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face. . . . What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet.

What does she mean?

Answer #1

thanks. I was so confused. I like that line but I didnt know what it meant lol thank you!

Ema =)

Answer #2

Here’s what I found, the meaning: Juliet has fallen in love with Romeo after their meeting at the Capulet ball. The problem, however, is that she is a Capulet whereas Romeo is a Montague, and the two families have been feuding with each other for centuries. In the days of arranged marriages where marital unions were brought about for financial or political reasons, it was hardly likely that her influential parents who head up the Capulet clan would agree to such an affair. Romeo, as a Montague, is their enemy and a union between Romeo and Juliet would therefore be abhorrent.

This passage, of course, has become one of the most famous for providing us with useful clichés: “What’s in a name?” and “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

Juliet’s soliloquy forms a deeply philosophical and poetic consideration for one both so young and so deeply in love. She is asking what it is that makes the essence of a person: “What’s Montague?”

She rightly points out that a person’s name does not constitute the person bearing that name. A person is much, much more than this. “It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face”. Indeed, if Romeo were to have any name other than Montague, he would be acceptable to her family.

What therefore constitutes a name? A name is merely a title by which a person is addressed. The essential nature of the person lies elsewhere. The essence of a rose is its wonderful fragrance. Using another name for that flower will not take away that exquisite fragrance.

What about, “Romeo, give up the name of Montague which, after all, is not the essential part of you. If you do so, I will reward by offering you all of myself.” (Note that Juliet is talking sexually here, I.e. she will offer him her body if he will give up his name.)

Romeo tells Juliet that he takes her literally. She need not call him “Romeo” anymore. She can call him “Love” - a term of endearment reserved for one’s husband or lover. Then he will be “new baptised”.

The expression “new baptised” is, of course, a Christian concept. Baptism was considered essential if one were to attain salvation, I.e. move from an earthly life into a heavenly one. Romeo says that, if Juliet were only to express her love to him, he would give up his old life (as a Montague) and enter into a new existence with her (in love with and married to a Capulet).

Juliet was of course by herself on the balcony of her bedroom. The garden beneath her balcony was a private place, cut off from the public by high walls. She should therefore have been alone, and her thoughts spoken out loud (“my counsel”) should have been uttered in private.

Romeo, however, has managed to climb into the garden. But she cannot see him, of course, because it is dark (remember that it is night-time) and he is probably hiding in the bushes or in the branches of a tree. (Franco Zifferelli’s film presents this scene very well. If you haven’t viewed his version of the play, then do yourself a favour and do so!)

This, of course, is a reminder to Juliet of who he is. When they had met earlier that evening at the Capulet ball, Romeo had invented the metaphor of Juliet being the saint and he being the uncouth peasant in need of salvation.

When he had first seen her, he had said “I’ll watch her place of stand, | And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand”, I.e. touching her saintly hand would sanctify his own.

Later he touches her hand but, in doing so, apologises that his “unworthiest hand” should profane her “holy shrine”. He continues this metaphor when he kisses her, commenting that her lips will purge his lips of all sin.

In this current scene, the moment Romeo addresses Juliet as “dear saint”, therefore, she will be reminded of that conversation and their kiss, and she will know immediately who he is.

Does he not mean that, if he had written his name on a piece of paper, he would immediately tear that paper to shreds rather than offend Juliet by allowing her to read it?

The word drunk can have two possible meanings. It could mean that Romeo’s words are quenching her thirst for him. Or perhaps there is the implication that his words are intoxicating to her, as when one is drinking much of a beautiful wine.

Answer #3

she means that its just a name, it doesn’t mean anything, if your name was different would my parents like you better…

something along those lines

hope this helps (:

Answer #4

Yeah…like you could call a rose a turd, but it would still smell sweet…:)


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