Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Sc. 3
Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!
Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, 70
So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies
Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.
Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine
Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!
How much salt water thrown away in waste 75
To season love, that of it doth not taste!
The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,
Thy old groans yet ringing in mine ancient ears.
Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
Of an old tear that is not washed off yet. 80
If e'er thou wast thyself, and these woes thine,
Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline.
This passage spoken by the wise Friar Lawrence in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, expresses one of the main themes, that of moderation, very well. What makes this section interesting is that it is one of the few times in the play where the sincerity of the love between Romeo and Juliet is questioned. Up to the night before, Romeo had been pining for Rosaline, crying on Lawrence's shoulder, and now the fickle young Montague wishes to marry a different woman. As would be expected, this comes as a shock to the aging clergyman, and he questions the validity of this new love. What also makes this passage interesting is the varied forms of imagery and figurative language. Allusions, metaphors, personification, and alliteration can all be found in this section.
The first quatrain is from line 69 through line 72. The rhythm and verse scheme in this paragraph is that of iambic pentameter and aabb respectively. The quatrain begins with an allusion to Saint Francis, in this case being used as an expression of exasperation by the friar. The rest of this section is pretty straightforward. Lawrence is very surprised at the change in Romeo's feelings, and challenges the sincerity of the new love, saying that young men are superficial and are really only drawn to a pretty face.
The next quatrain is from line 73 through 76. This section of the passage has the same rhythm and verse scheme as the first quatrain. Also like the preceding part, this quatrain begins with an allusion used as an exclamation, this time referring to Jesus and Mary. The main focus of these four lines is how much grief and sadness the unrequited love for Rosaline caused Romeo, yet now how fast that love is forgotten. The friar uses a metaphor compares love to a piece of meat, and the tears Romeo shed to salt (water) in lines 75 and 76. He is saying that Romeo went through all the trouble to waste tears over a love, then simply discards it - much like wasting salt on a piece of meat that you never attempt to eat.
The third and final quatrain is from line 77 through line 80. Again, this section of the passage has the exact same rhythm and verse pattern as the previous quatrains. This section is a piggyback off of the last, continuing on the subject of the sadness caused by the love Romeo held for Rosaline. This quatrain, however, challenges whether or not Romeo could really have gotten over his previous love so quickly. The friar talks of how Romeo's sighs are still in the air, and that it was not very long ago that Lawrence himself was hearing of Romeo's struggle to win over Rosaline. Also, personification is used, when talking of how tears which Romeo shed are still sitting upon his cheeks.
Finally, the last part of the fourteen line passage is a couplet which summarizes the major points. Basically the friar is saying that it was not very long ago that Romeo was depressed, thus it was not that long ago that Rosaline was the apple of his eye. Lawrence seriously questions the truth of Romeo's intense new love, although the friar later goes on to help the two young, star-crossed lovers. The couplet also utilizes alliteration, with the repeated use of words beginning with "w".
This passage is important in the play for two reasons. First, it is one of only several times in which the value of the love between Romeo and Juliet is questioned. This is a good thing, because it brings depth to the play, and changes it from being completely one sided. It is reversed from, of course the love is true; to letting the reader think more about the play. Secondly, the friar's challenge brings to light the conviction with which Romeo acts on issues of love. This shows that the young lover of love will act quickly, making up his mind completely on an issue, and he will not allow himself to be dissuaded. This foreshadows that Romeo would be willing to do rash things concerning the love he has for Juliet. Thus, this passage challenges the love of the young Capulet and Montague, yet at the same time hints to the extremes to which the lovers will travel.