Hold, daughter. I do spy a kind of hope,
Which craves as desperate an execution
As that is desperate which we would prevent.
If, rather than to marry County Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,
That copest with death himself to ’scape from it.
An if thou darest, I’ll give thee remedy.
Hold on, daughter, I see some hope. But we must act boldly because the situation is so desperate. If you’ve made up your mind to kill yourself instead of marrying Count Paris, then you’ll probably be willing to try something like death to solve this shameful problem. You can wrestle with death to escape from shame. And if you dare to do it, I’ll give you the solution.
O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
From off the battlements of yonder tower;
Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk
Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears;
Or shut me nightly in a charnel house,
O'ercovered quite with dead men’s rattling bones,
With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;
Or bid me go into a new-made grave
And hide me with a dead man in his shroud—
Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble—
And I will do it without fear or doubt,
To live an unstained wife to my sweet love.
Oh, you can tell me to jump off the battle posts of any tower, or to walk down the crime-ridden streets of a slum. Or tell me to sit in a field full of poisonous snakes. Chain me up with wild bears. Hide me every night in a morgue full of dead bodies with wet, smelly flesh and skulls without jawbones. Or tell me to climb down into a freshly dug grave, and hide me with a dead man in his tomb. All those ideas make me tremble when I hear them named. But I will do them without fear or dread in order to be a pure wife to my sweet love.
Hold, then. Go home, be merry. Give consent
To marry Paris. Wednesday is tomorrow.
Tomorrow night look that thou lie alone.
Let not the Nurse lie with thee in thy chamber.
(shows her a vial)
Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distillèd liquor drink thou off,
When presently through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humor, for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease.
No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest.
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes, thy eyes' windows fall
Like death when he shuts up the day of life.
Each part, deprived of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death.
And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep.
Now, when the bridegroom in the morning comes
To rouse thee from thy bed, there art thou dead.
Then, as the manner of our country is,
In thy best robes uncovered on the bier
Thou shalt be borne to that same ancient vault
Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie.
In the meantime, against thou shalt awake,
Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift,
And hither shall he come, and he and I
Will watch thy waking, and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.
And this shall free thee from this present shame,
If no inconstant toy, nor womanish fear,
Abate thy valor in the acting it.
Hold on, then. Go home, be cheerful, and tell them you agree to marry Paris. Tomorrow is Wednesday. Tomorrow night make sure that you are alone. Don’t let the Nurse stay with you in your bedroom. (showing her a vial) When you’re in bed, take this vial, mix its contents with liquor, and drink. Then a cold, sleep-inducing drug will run through your veins, and your pulse will stop. Your flesh will be cold, and you’ll stop breathing. The red in your lips and your cheeks will turn pale, and your eyes will shut. It will seem like you’re dead. You won’t be able to move, and your body will be stiff like a corpse. You’ll remain in this deathlike state for forty-two hours, and then you’ll wake up as if from a pleasant sleep. Now, when the bridegroom comes to get you out of bed on Thursday morning, you’ll seem dead. Then, as tradition demands, you’ll be dressed up in your best clothes, put in an open coffin, and carried to the Capulet family tomb. Meanwhile, I’ll send Romeo word of our plan. He’ll come here, and we’ll keep a watch for when you wake up. That night, Romeo will take you away to Mantua. This plan will free you from the shameful situation that troubles you now as long as you don’t change your mind, or become scared like a silly woman and ruin your brave effort.