Speak, Nurse! *nervous babbling* (2.5.18-28)

Enter NURSE [with PETER].

JULIET                        O God, she comes! O honey Nurse, what news?

                        Hast thou met with him? Send thy man away.

NURSE            Peter, stay at the gate.                      [Exit Peter]

JULIET                        Now, good, sweet Nurse—O Lord, why look’st thou sad?

                        Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily;

                        If good, thou shamest the music of sweet news

                        By playing it to me with so sour a face.

NURSE            I am a-weary, give me leave a while.

                        Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunce have I!

JULIET                        I would thou hadst my bones, and I thy news.

                        Nay, come, I pray thee speak, good, good Nurse, speak. (2.5.18-28)

When the Nurse finally arrives, Juliet can’t quite believe it; she both wants and doesn’t want to hear Romeo’s message; she’s completely over the top, full of nervous energy, looking for every possible sign of the message’s content, good or bad, and babbling so fast that the Nurse couldn’t get a word in edgeways, even if she tried. And, endearingly, Juliet’s still trying to be philosophical and kind of cool about it: if it’s bad news, tell them merrily, put a brave face on it; if it’s good news, you might look a bit more cheerful about it because you’re really putting a dampener on things. And she is still wonderfully quick-witted; the I would thou hadst my bones, and I thy news is a great come-back. It’s been exhausting, says the Nurse, wonderfully exaggerating (jaunce would be appropriate if she’d been bounced around on horseback, on unpaved roads, up and down mountains, rather than, in effect, spending the morning at the mall) – is this mostly a wind-up? the Nurse affectionately teasing Juliet, both for the fun of it, and because she knows that, once her message is delivered, everything is going to change, again, and there will be no going back.

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