Sweet Sorrow & Violent Delights: 8 Monologues From ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to Use for Auditions

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First published in 1597, William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet” has endured through centuries. Whether it’s dazzling onstage, defining the ’90s with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, inspiring other classics such as “West Side Story,” or even roping in Tom Holland for a run on the West End, the story of two star-cross’d lovers is a cornerstone of any theater actor’s life. 

As such, you really can’t go wrong with a “Romeo and Juliet” monologue, whether it’s for auditions or practice. (Just be mindful of how common they are!) Below, we’ll run through some of the top examples, from iconic mainstays to lesser-known options. 

Lady Capulet: Act 1, Scene 3

In this monologue, Juliet’s mother, Lady Capulet, attempts to persuade Juliet into marrying her suitor, Paris. This is a fun one because it has such a clearly defined objective—Lady Capulet really wants her daughter to consider Paris—but it also has boundless character opportunities. Find the depth by asking why Lady Capulet is so set on this route for Juliet; what does that want say about her background, life, and place in society?

LADY CAPULET: What say you? Can you love the gentleman?
This night you shall behold him at our feast.
Read o'er the volume of young Paris’ face,
And find delight writ there with beauty’s pen;
Examine every married lineament,
And see how one another lends content,
And what obscured in this fair volume lies
Find written in the margent of his eyes.
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover.
The fish lives in the sea, and ’tis much pride
For fair without the fair within to hide.
That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;
So shall you share all that he doth possess,
By having him making yourself no less.

Nurse: Act 1, Scene 3 

Here, the Capulets’ nurse reminisces about Juliet’s precocious nature as a child on the eve of her 14th birthday. Play into the rambling nature of the nurse’s story. Realistically get lost in the past to impress your audience. 

NURSE: Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen.
Susan and she—God rest all Christian souls!—
Were of an age: well, Susan is with God;
She was too good for me: but, as I said,
On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen;
That shall she, marry; I remember it well.
’Tis since the earthquake now eleven years;
And she was wean’d,—I never shall forget it,—
Of all the days of the year, upon that day:
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall;
My lord and you were then at Mantua:—
Nay, I do bear a brain:—but, as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
Shake quoth the dove-house: ’twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge:
And since that time it is eleven years;
For then she could stand alone; nay, by the rood,
She could have run and waddled all about;
For even the day before, she broke her brow:
And then my husband—God be with his soul!
A’ was a merry man—took up the child:
‘Yea,’ quoth he, ’dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;
Wilt thou not, Jule?’ and, by my holidame,
The pretty wretch left crying and said ‘Ay.’
To see, now, how a jest shall come about!
I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,
I never should forget it: ‘Wilt thou not, Jule?’ quoth he;
And, pretty fool, it stinted and said ‘Ay.’

Mercutio: Act 1, Scene 4 

One of the most magical speeches in all of theater, Mercutio’s long and winding tale is ideal for keeping the room spellbound. Here, Romeo’s friend describes a mischievous fairy, Queen Mab, who messes with people’s dreams. In reality, Mercutio is chiding Romeo for dwelling on his unrequited love for Rosalind. Ride that line between playfulness and a hard edge. Make a meal out of all the striking imagery throughout the monologue, which offers endless opportunities for pronunciations, line deliveries, and unexpected choices. 

MERCUTIO: O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomi
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
Her traces of the smallest spider web,
Her collars of the moonshine’s wat’ry beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
On courtiers’ knees, that dream on cur’sies straight;
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit.
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail,
Tickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep;
Then he dreams of another benefice.
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep, and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes
And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is she—

Romeo: Act 2, Scene 2

Stop and ask anyone on the street to quote “Romeo and Juliet” and there’s a good chance you’ll hear “it is the East, and Juliet is the sun.” This is arguably the most oft-performed monologue from the play. If you’re set on using it for an audition, dive deep to make it your own. Luckily, it’s a classic for a reason. It allows you to portray a profound array of emotions, from an aching desire to frightful vulnerability. 

ROMEO: But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady; O, it is my love!
O that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold; ’tis not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2 

Back to the balcony. Similar to the previous monologue, Juliet’s “a rose by any other name” lamentation is something casting directors have heard countless times—make sure your take is singular and extraordinary. Here, Juliet grapples with the constraints of her family name that keep her from being with Romeo. Although overused, this monologue offers the chance to navigate a wide range of emotions, from intense passion and frustration to profound love and heartache. Plus, it’s brief but impactful; consider it for shorter audition windows. 

JULIET: ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Juliet: Act 3, Scene 2

In this monologue, Juliet expresses impatience as she eagerly waits for night to arrive—and Romeo with it. It’s a good example of what makes Shakespeare’s writing timeless. Yes, the language is archaic, but the earnest excitement underneath it is recognizable to anyone who has ever been young and in love. Tap into that shockingly modern sensibility and you’ll instantly charm the room. 

JULIET: Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging! Such a wagoner
As Phaeton would whip you to the west
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaway’s eyes may wink, and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalked of and unseen.—
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night.—Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play’d for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.
Hood my unmanned blood bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night;—come, Romeo; come, thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back.—
Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-brow’d night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.—
O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possess’d it; and, though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy’d. So tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes,
And may not wear them. O, here comes my nurse,
And she brings news; and every tongue that speaks
But Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence.—

Romeo: Act 5, Scene 3 

The tragic climax of the story, this monologue sees Romeo decry the events that led to Juliet’s “suicide” before drinking the poison that kills him—despite the fact Juliet still lives. The thrilling challenge here is navigating that dramatic irony. The audience knows Romeo is making a mistake; don’t suggest for a second you do, too. We should feel heartbreak, not pity. 

ROMEO: In faith, I will. Let me peruse this face.
Mercutio’s kinsman, noble County Paris!
What said my man, when my betossed soul
Did not attend him as we rode? I think
He told me Paris should have married Juliet:
Said he not so? or did I dream it so?
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so? O, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune’s book!
I’ll bury thee in a triumphant grave;
A grave? O no! a lantern, slaughter’d youth,
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light.
Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interr’d.
(Laying PARIS in the tomb)
How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry! which their keepers call
A lightning before death: O, how may I
Call this a lightning? O my love! my wife!
Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.
Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!
Here’s to my love!
(Drinks)
O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.

Friar Laurence: Act 5, Scene 3

In this moment, at the tail end of the play, Friar Laurence wearily recounts the tragic fates of Romeo and Juliet, as well as his part in them. It’s a tall task—you must, essentially, recap the entire story in an engaging way. In doing so, you’ll prove your talents as a storyteller. Bring the character’s guilt to the forefront but lean on the side of understated. After all of this, Laurence is tired

FRIAR LAURENCE: I will be brief, for my short date of breath
Is not so long as is a tedious tale.
Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet;
And she, there dead, that Romeo’s faithful wife:
I married them; and their stol’n marriage-day
Was Tybalt’s dooms-day, whose untimely death
Banish’d the new-made bridegroom from the city,
For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined.
You, to remove that siege of grief from her,
Betroth’d and would have married her perforce
To County Paris: then comes she to me,
And, with wild looks, bid me devise some mean
To rid her from this second marriage,
Or in my cell there would she kill herself.
Then gave I her, so tutor’d by my art,
A sleeping potion; which so took effect
As I intended, for it wrought on her
The form of death: meantime I writ to Romeo,
That he should hither come as this dire night,
To help to take her from her borrow’d grave,
Being the time the potion’s force should cease.
But he which bore my letter, Friar John,
Was stay’d by accident, and yesternight
Return’d my letter back. Then all alone
At the prefixed hour of her waking,
Came I to take her from her kindred’s vault;
Meaning to keep her closely at my cell,
Till I conveniently could send to Romeo:
But when I came, some minute ere the time
Of her awaking, here untimely lay
The noble Paris and true Romeo dead.
She wakes; and I entreated her come forth,
And bear this work of heaven with patience:
But then a noise did scare me from the tomb;
And she, too desperate, would not go with me,
But, as it seems, did violence on herself.
All this I know; and to the marriage
Her nurse is privy: and, if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrificed, some hour before his time,
Unto the rigour of severest law.