Romeo and Juliet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 1

page Act 5 Scene 1 Page 3

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Noting this penury, to myself I said,
“An if a man did need a poison now”—
Whose sale is present death in Mantua—
“Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.”
55Oh, this same thought did but forerun my need,
And this same needy man must sell it me.
As I remember, this should be the house.
Being holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut.
What, ho! Apothecary!
Noticing all this poverty, I said to myself, “If a man needed some poison”—which they would immediately kill you for selling in Mantua—“here is a miserable wretch who’d sell it to him.” Oh, this idea came before I needed the poison. But this same poor man must sell it to me. As I remember, this should be the house. Today’s a holiday, so the beggar’s shop is shut. Hey! Pharmacist!
Enter APOTHECARY
The APOTHECARY enters.

APOTHECARY

     Who calls so loud?

APOTHECARY

Who’s that calling so loud?

ROMEO

60Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor.
Hold, there is forty ducats. Let me have
A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
As will disperse itself through all the veins
That the life-weary taker may fall dead,
65And that the trunk may be discharged of breath
As violently as hasty powder fired
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon’s womb.

ROMEO

Come here, man. I see that you are poor. Here are forty ducats. Let me have a shot of poison, something that works so fast that the person who takes it will die as fast as gunpowder exploding in a canon.

APOTHECARY

Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law
Is death to any he that utters them.

APOTHECARY

I have lethal poisons like that. But it’s against the law to sell them in Mantua, and the penalty is death.

ROMEO

70Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
And fear’st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks.
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes.
Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back.
The world is not thy friend nor the world’s law.
75The world affords no law to make thee rich.
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.
(holds out money)

ROMEO

You’re this poor and wretched and still afraid to die? Your cheeks are thin because of hunger. I can see in your eyes that you’re starving. Anyone can see that you’re a beggar. The world is not your friend, and neither is the law. The world doesn’t make laws to make you rich. So don’t be poor. Break the law, and take this money. (he holds out money)