What does Juliet mean by, “Your tributary drops belong to woe”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, "Your tributary drops belong to woe" to Romeo after he confesses his love to her. This phrase means that Romeo's tears are a sign of sadness and grief, which are the dues he pays to love. Juliet is saying that if Romeo truly loves her, he will have to suffer the pain of separation and the uncertainty of their future together. The phrase highlights the intensity of their love and the challenges they will face as a result of their families' feud.
Detailed answer:

In Act II, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says to Romeo, "Your tributary drops belong to woe" (line 134). This phrase is part of Juliet's famous balcony speech, in which she expresses her love for Romeo and the obstacles they will have to overcome to be together.

The phrase "tributary drops" refers to Romeo's tears, which Juliet sees as a sign of the pain and sorrow that come with love. She is telling Romeo that if he truly loves her, he will have to endure the hardships that come with their forbidden love, including the risk of discovery and the uncertainty of their future together. By using the word "tributary," Juliet suggests that Romeo's tears are a tribute or payment to the god of love, who demands sacrifices from his followers.

The phrase "belong to woe" emphasizes the tragic nature of Romeo and Juliet's love story. Juliet knows that their love is doomed because of their families' feud, and she is warning Romeo that their happiness will be short-lived. She is also acknowledging the pain that they will both have to endure as a result of their love, including the possibility of separation, betrayal, and even death.

Overall, Juliet's use of the phrase "Your tributary drops belong to woe" highlights the intensity and passion of their love, as well as the challenges and hardships they will face in pursuit of it. The phrase has become one of the most famous lines from the play, and it continues to resonate with audiences today as a powerful expression of the joys and sorrows of love.

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