Romeo and Juliet: Love Scenes

Romeo and Juliet's First Meeting

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Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting is an explosion of romantic poetry. Together, the two lovers create a sonnet, a popular form of love poem with fourteen lines, three quatrains, a couplet, and Iambic pentameter. The poem is a continuing metaphor of religion in which Romeo is a pilgrim coming to the “holy shrine” that is Juliet. Romeo and Juliet, who fell in love at first sight site, kiss twice at the end of the poem just before Juliet is called away by the Nurse to speak to her mother, Lady Capulet.

    In the first quatrain, Romeo takes Juliet’s hand and tells her that if he “profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine” (1.5.104-105) of Juliet, his lip will take to spiritual journey that a pilgrim takes to the ‘shrine’ and kiss Juliet. He says that his hand is going to ‘profane’ hers, or make it unsacred. He says that his lips, the “blushing pilgrims” (1.5.106), will make the unsacred touch better. Pilgrims migrate to a holy place to purify themselves of sins by holding the hands of saints. Romeo will purify his lips by kissing Juliet.

Romeo speaks the first quatrain of the play and in the second, Juliet gives him her saintly reply. “Good pilgrim,” she says, “you do wrong your hands too much” (1.5.108), meaning that his hands are not that bad so he should not say that they are un-purify-ing and unholy. Saints also have hands, and as Juliet reminds Romeo, pilgrims hold saints hands. Not only this, but putting one palm against the other is the holy palmers’ kiss, or how Christians pray. Here, Juliet continues the metaphor that Romeo started. She also loves him from the first though she is a little worried about this unknown man.  

After Juliet’s defense of his hands, Romeo goes even farther and asks about lips. “Have not saints’ lips, and holy palmers too?”  (1.5.112) he asks her, hinting that he would like to kiss her. She tells him that saints and holy palmers only use their lips in prayer. Romeo then replies that lips should pray the way hands do, and come together in a kiss. The last line of that last quatrain is Romeo’s, as he tells that this wish of a kiss must come true or his faith in his religion, which is Juliet, will turn to sadness and ‘despair’.                        

The two last lines of the sonnet, the couplet, are the flirtiest of all. Juliet tells Romeo that Saints don’t give blessings unless one really prays for them, and so he will have to pray more before he can kiss her. The word she uses for ‘give blessings’ however, is ‘move’, which also has the more common meaning of to be in motion. Romeo makes a pun of this by saying “then move not while my prayers’ effect I take” (1.5.117), meaning hold still while I fulfill my prayer, which was to kiss you. Then he kisses her, starting the happy, star crossed romance that ends in tragedy for all.