Juliet forgives Romeo for killing Tybalt: There is a short dialogue before their duet, “Nuit d’hyménée”, lush with tertian harmonies. Some consider this to be the consummation of the marriage when Juliet loses her virginity and physical self. This duet includes more singing together than separate vocal lines which represents the closeness with which their lives are now bound together.
“Adieu mon âme…”: Juliet bids farewell to her love, her soul, her life and then prays for the angels to watch over her beloved. At this point her life is completely attached to Romeo and is no longer hers alone.
With the Friar: Juliet is desperate for help and proclaims that she is prepared to die.
”Dieu! Quel frisson…”: At first Juliet is terrified to take the potion, but her love for Romeo ignites the courage to drink it. She begins to question herself and is scared about waking alone in the tomb. Again her love for Romeo revives her courage, squashes her fear and she drinks the sleeping potion.
Wedding scene: This scene also does not occur in the Shakespeare play. Juliet laments “hatred is the cradle of this fatal love” (almost identical music to Act I “C’etait Romeo”) and collapses. Even though she knows she isn’t actually dying, she calls out in fear for her father. This outcry for her father could be the last glimpse of the once pure and innocent Juliet. It shows her fear that she might actually die.
The sleeping potion puts Juliet into a deep, long sleep where her heart stops beating and her blood goes cold. Even though she comes back to life, it really seems as if she is dead. Symbolically, this is the death of any last sense of herself.
I’m really interested in how this deep sleep affects Juliet. Could there be physical, hormonal, or chemical changes that would impact her mental health? Could this make the act of suicide seem more appealing? Does she have strange dreams or nightmares? When she wakes, is she fully coherent or does she think she’s still dreaming?
Juliet wakes up and asks “Where am I?” Could there be a double meaning implied here? Possibly “Who am I?” or “Where am I?” representing Juliet’s complete loss of self and being totally overcome by her love for Romeo.
At first she’s confused about who Romeo is, but once she realizes they are together at last, they have a moment of rejoicing. In this moment, the two lovers sing in octaves/unison.
It seems like there is quite a bit of confusion in this last scene. Juliet is groggy, confused, and upset when she realizes that Romeo has consumed a fatal poison. She is even more upset when she realizes he hasn’t left her any and she takes his sword to stab herself.
The couples final breath is a prayer sung in octaves/unison depicting their final fatal union.
Top focus: Telling the specific story of Juliet’s transformation
Characterization: Now that I have identified Juliet’s transformation and the specific moments where change occurs, I can more clearly define and portray the difference in her character from beginning to end. This analysis has also helped me understand and assign more specific meaning to Juliet’s text.
Further topics to explore: Juliet’s slumber/coma/dream state and the possible effects, music analytical analyses of all Romeo/Juliet duets and how they reflect transformation