Balcony Scene

Balcony Scene

“It’s perhaps the most famous scene in all of English literature: Juliet stands on her balcony with Romeo in the garden below, star-crossed lovers meeting by moonlight. Colloquially known as ‘the balcony scene,’ it contains Romeo and Juliet’s most quoted lines, which are so closely associated with the balcony that they’re frequently repeated (often incorrectly and in a hammy style) by non-actors who seize upon any real-life balcony, porch, landing, or veranda to reenact the moment. There’s only one problem: There is no balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.

The word ‘balcony’ never appears in Shakespeare’s play. In fact, Shakespeare didn’t know what a balcony was. Not only was there no balcony in Romeo and Juliet, there was no balcony in all of Shakespeare’s England.”

— “Romeo and Juliet Has No Balcony,” Lois Leveen, The Atlantic

Briefly, some sixty years after the Bard’s death, playwright Thomas Otway cribbed some lines from the R&J garden window scene (Act II Scene 2) in his drama of ancient Rome and introduced a balcony to the set. When David Garrick revived Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy in 1748 he put Otway’s balcony in the scene, and it’s became emblematic of the play, and of Shakespeare.


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Image (“Romeo & Juliet Balcony Scene, based on a 1936 MGM photo”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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