Juliet was impatient for the night to come. It seemed that the day would go on forever. She wished the god of the sun would whip his horses so that they would carry him faster to the distant west and allow night to fall like a thick curtain. Then her husband could come to her in secret. Who needed daylight? Lovers didn’t: their own beauty was light enough to see by. In any case, if love is blind night is the best time for it.

She sat in her room, marveling at how long a day can be. She thought about what would happen when the night finally fell and Romeo was with her: how she would give herself to him and by so doing, win him forever. The darkness would hide her blushes when they made love. She went to the window and gazed out over the orchard where Romeo had stood.

It was so frustrating: she had bought a house of love but not yet taken possession of it – she was like some brand new item that hadn’t yet been used. Oh, what tedium: she felt like a child on the night before an important day who has all her new clothes lined up but wasn’t allowed to wear them until morning.

Her Nurse came slowly up the path from the gate. Yes, she had the rope ladder. But she didn’t look very happy. Perhaps she was tired. Juliet left her room, ran as fast as she could -through the halls and down the stairs – and reached the Nurse before she got to the door.

‘Hello Nurse,’ she said. ‘What have you got there? The rope ladder that Romeo asked you to get?’

‘Yes . , . yes!’ said the Nurse, ‘The rope ladder.’ Her voice was dull. She sat down on a bench and dropped the ladder. She didn’t look at Juliet: she just shook her head slowly and began wringing her hands.

‘Oh dear, ‘ said Juliet ‘What’s wrong? Why are you wringing your hands?’

‘Oh no, oh no,’ said the Nurse, ‘He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead. It’s all over – all over, May God help us, he’s gone, he’s killed, he’s dead.’

Juliet went cold. Did she mean Romeo? She was numb, ‘Can heaven be so hostile?’ she said,

‘No,’ said the Nurse. ‘But Romeo can. Oh Romeo, Romeo. Who would have thought it? Romeo!’

‘What kind of monster are you, saying such things?’ said Juliet. ‘Torturing me like this? Has Romeo killed himself? Just say yes or no.’

The Nurse still didn’t look up. ‘I saw the wound with my own eyes. Right here,’ She placed her hand on her breast. ‘A pitiful corpse, a blood drenched pitiful corpse. It was pale, pale as ashes, and all covered in blood. I fainted when I saw it.’

Juliet lay on the ground and sobbed. Her heart was. broken. She never wanted to open her eyes again. She wanted to die right there and then and be buried in the same coffin as Romeo.

‘Tybalt, Tybalt,’ wailed the Nurse, ‘The best friend I had. O dear Tybalt! good Tybalt. I never thought I’d live to see you dead.’

Juliet sat up. ‘Why are you contradicting yourself?’ she said, ‘Is Romeo killed? And is Tybalt also dead? Both my beloved cousin and my even more beloved husband? Then come on doomsday, sound your trumpet, because who is alive if those two are dead?’

‘Tybalt is dead and Romeo banished,’ said the Nurse. ‘That Romeo who killed Tybalt – he’s banished.’

‘Oh God!’ shrieked Juliet, ‘Did Romeo kill Tybalt?’

‘He did, he did, oh God help us, he did,’ sobbed the Nurse.

‘I can’t believe it!,’ exclaimed Juliet. ‘Oh, the scoundrel. A snake’s heart hidden by a handsome face! Did ever such a beautiful cave harbour such a dragon? A beautiful monster! An angelic devil, Evil in the clothes of good – just the opposite of what he seemed. I can’t believe that hypocrisy could live in such a gorgeous palace!’

‘No,’ said the Nurse, ‘You can’t trust any man: they’re all liars, all hypocrites, ‘Huh, where’s Peter? Bring me some brandy! All this sorrow is aging me. Shame on Romeo.’

Juliet leapt to her feet. Her eyes flashed as she shook her finger at the Nurse, ‘I hope your tongue is blistered for saying that!’ she cried, ‘There’s no shame on Romeo! Oh what a beast I was to criticize him!’
‘Are you going to speak well of the man who killed your cousin?’

‘Do you want me to speak badly of the man who is my husband?’ said Juliet. ‘Oh, my poor husband. Who will support you when I, your wife of three hours, abandons you?’ She shook her head sadly. ‘But why, scoundrel, did you kill my cousin?’

Peter brought a flask of brandy and the Nurse grabbed it and waved him away.

Juliet had sat down on the grass again. ‘If he hadn’t killed Tybalt that scoundrel Tybalt would have killed him,’ she said. ‘Why am I crying? My husband is alive. Tybalt wanted to kill him but Tybalt’s dead now – the villain who wanted to kill my husband. It’s all good news. So why am I crying? There is something you said, Nurse, that’s worse than Tybalt ‘s death. I wish I could forget it but it’s haunting me. ‘Tybalt is dead, and Romeo banished, you said, Nurse. That ‘banished’, that one word ‘banished’ is like the death of ten thousand Tybalts. Tybalt ‘s death would have been bad enough if it had ended there. But Romeo’s world’s been destroyed. The word ‘banished’ is the worst sounding word in our language. Where are my parents, Nurse?’

‘They’re crying over Tybalt ‘s body. Do you want to go to them? I’ll take you.’

‘Are they washing his wounds with tears? I’ve got more tears for Romeo’s banishment than they’ll ever have for Tybalt ‘s death. Take the rope ladder away. Romeo’s already gone.’ She stood up. ‘I’m going to bed. And I’ll die there with death as my lover instead of Romeo.’

The Nurse put her arm around Juliet. ‘That’s right. Go to your room. I’ll try and find Romeo. I think I know where he is. Listen, Love! Romeo will be here tonight. I’ll make sure of that. I’ll go to him: he’s hiding at Friar Lawrence’s chapel.’

‘Oh find him,’ said Juliet. ‘Give him this ring and tell him to come to me.’

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Read more scenes from Romeo & Juliet:

Romeo & Juliet in Modern English | Romeo & Juliet original text
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Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 1, Scene 1 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 1, Scene 1
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 1, Scene 2 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 1, Scene 2
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 1, Scene 3 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 1, Scene 3
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 1, Scene 4 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 1, Scene 4
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Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 1 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 2, Scene 1
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 2 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 2, Scene 2
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 3 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 2, Scene 3
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 4 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 2, Scene 4
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 5 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 2, Scene 5
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 6 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 2, Scene 6
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Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 3, Scene 1 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 3, Scene 1
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 3, Scene 2 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 3, Scene 2
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 3, Scene 3 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 3, Scene 3
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 3, Scene 4 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 3, Scene 4
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 3, Scene 5 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 3, Scene 5
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Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 4, Scene 1 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 4, Scene 1
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 4, Scene 2 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 4, Scene 2
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 4, Scene 3 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 4, Scene 3
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Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 4, Scene 5 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 4, Scene 5
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Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 5, Scene 1 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 5, Scene 1
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 5, Scene 2 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 5, Scene 2
Modern Romeo & Juliet Act 5, Scene 3 | Romeo & Juliet text Act 5, Scene 3

 

Read all of Shakespeare’s plays translated to modern English >>