A thousand times good night! (2.2.149-157)

NURSE            [Within] Madam!

JULIET                        I come, anon. – But if thou meanest not well,

                        I do beseech thee—

NURSE            [Within]                      Madam!

JULIET                                                                        By and by I come—

                        To cease thy strife, and leave me to my grief.

                        Tomorrow will I send.

ROMEO           So thrive my soul—

JULIET                                                            A thousand times good night!

                                                                        [Exit above]

ROMEO           A thousand times the worse, to want thy light.

                        Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,

                        But love from love, toward school with heavy looks. (2.2.149-157)

It seems, here, as if the scene is coming to an abrupt end, as Juliet admonishes Romeo, once again, to be honest, not to mess her around, and reminds him that she will get a message to him the following day. She is not unworldly here – if thou meanest not well, if you are (despite your protestations) just trying your luck. The Nurse will soon put Romeo on the spot in similar terms: if ye should lead her in a fool’s paradise, that is, if this is merely a cynical ploy to seduce a very young woman. If it turns out that Romeo is playing games, however, it won’t make any difference to how Juliet herself feels: leave me to my griefsuggests that she would respond to his betrayal (if he proves to be less sincere or serious than he has protested thus far, or worse) as to a bereavement. Romeo’s response – so thrive my soul– suggests both that she is his soul, and that his own soul is dependent on her, and will thrive, flourish, when he hears from her. A thousand times good nightcontinues the tone of excess and hyperbole, but also sets up the remainder of the scene, in which they will indeed keep saying goodnight and failing to make it goodbye. It does sound as if this is the end of the scene, with the neat shared couplet rhyming on night/light, returning to the idea of Juliet as the light in darkness that was so strongly established at the scene’s beginning. There’s a nicely rueful self-awareness in Romeo’s subsequent couplet, with its conceit of the sluggish schoolboy(who will turn up again in the seven ages speech in As You Like It, as the ‘whining schoolboy with his satchel | And shining morning face, creeping like snail | Unwillingly to school’, as the archetype of the teenager). And it’s a reminder, too, that Romeo is young; probably no longer a schoolboy(he’s in the next age of the seven, the lover) but still a young adult, as his interactions with Friar Lawrence in the next scene will show (in some productions, it’s suggested that the Friar has been his teacher).

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