Romeo and Juliet Act 1, scene 4 Summary & Analysis
New! Understand every line of Romeo and Juliet.Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Romeo, Benvolio, and their friend Mercutio (a kinsmen of Prince Escalus), walk toward the Capulet's ball. Romeo, still melancholy, says he won't dance at the party. Mercutio makes fun of Romeo, twisting all his comments about love into sexual metaphors.
Mercutio thinks little of love. He uses puns to show love is nothing more than a pretty excuse to chase sex. Mercutio's banter also shows how friends exert social pressure.
Romeo says he dreamed that going to the feast was a bad idea.
Fate and foreshadowing.
Mercutio launches into a speech about dreams and Queen Mab, the Queen of Fairies. The speech begins as a kind of fairy-tale, with Queen Mab bringing dreams in her carriage made from a walnut. But the dreams become more and more nightmarish, revealing men's greed, violence, and sexual desire. Mercutio works himself into a fervor. Romeo breaks in and calms him down.
In the famous Queen Mab speech, Mercutio reveals the dark desires that hide behind mankind's pretty ideals, and his own revulsion at this subterfuge. He also shows his wit with words and a tendency to get carried furiously away.
Benvolio breaks in to say they'll be late if they don't hurry. Romeo again says he has a bad feeling. He senses that the events of the night will set fate in motion and result in his untimely death. But he shrugs it off and follows his friends.
Romeo gives himself to fate.