Not blushing (2.2.85-93)

JULIET                        Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face,

                        Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek

                        For that which thou hast heard me speak tonight.

                        Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny

                        What I have spoke, but farewell compliment.

                        Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay’;

                        And I will take thy word; yet if thou swear’st,

                        Thou mayst prove false: at lovers’ perjuries

                        They say Jove laughs. (2.2.85-93)

In the ball scene, they have perhaps both been masked, even if they remove them when they meet – so there’s a glance back at that – but there are no masks now. Juliet is not saying it’s dark, so you can’t see that I’m blushing, but rather, if it weren’t dark I would be blushing – but it’s dark, so I’m not. (Some actors, presumably, can blush on cue; this neatly removes that problem. Maiden blush bepaint is also so pretty; the delicacy and cleverness of the phrase is present even as the blush is not.) Juliet is saying, I could be coy, and polite, and say that I didn’t mean it – but I am not ashamed, and I am going to be honest. Will you be honest too? She is not unworldly; she knows that men – lovers – people – do not always tell the truth. She is wary of oaths and vows. But she is throwing all caution to the wind, and demonstrating that she is a woman who keeps her word, and stands by what she has said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *