Act 1 Scene 1 Overview
The play begins with the two Capulets, Gregory and Sampson, joking about their hatred for the Monatgues. As they pass two of the Montagues, they decide to insult them. Just as a brawl was about to break out, Benvolio, a Montague, arrives and attempts to stop the fight. Immediately Tybalt, who was a Capulet, enters and insults Benvolio, restarting the brawl. The Prince of Verona, Italy, arrives and restores peace. He threatens that anyone who breaks the peace again will be put to death.
Characters in this scene:
- Lady Capulet
- Lord Montague
- Lady Montague
Act 1 Scene 1 Part 2 Overview
After the brawl, Montague and Lady Montague question Benvolio about the brawl, then about Romeo. They are concerned by his moody and anti-social behaviour. Benvolio approaches Romeo, who tells him that he is depressed because the girl who he loves, does not love him back. Benvolio tries to persuade Romeo to forget about her.
Act 1 Scene 2 Overview
Paris asks Capulet for the permission to marry his daughter, Juliet. Capulet insists that she is still too young, but invites Paris to a party at this mansion that night. He then gives a guest list to one of his servants who so happen to be unable to read. The servant bumps into Romeo and Benvolio, who are still discussing Romeo's sadness. Romeo reads out the list, which includes Rosaline (his lover) and his best friend, Mercutio. The servant invites Benvolio and Romeo to the part and eventually Benvolio persuades Romeo to attend, claiming that he will surely find someone there more beautiful than Rosaline.
Act 1 Scene 3 Overview
Lady Capulet informs Juliet that Paris wishes to marry her. In doing so, she attempts to persuade Juliet that marriage is desirable and looks for the Nurse's support.
Act 1 Scene 4 Overview
One of Romeo's good friends, Mercutio, persuades a reluctant Romeo to accompany a group of them to a masked ball at the Capulet's mansion. He debates with Romeo on the nature of love and dreams. At the end of the scene, Romeo tells his friends that he has a bad feeling about what might happen that night.
Act 1 Scene 5 Overview
At the Capulet's masked ball, Romeo meets Juliet and they fall in love at first sight. Tybalt bitterly complains to Capulet about Romeo and his intrusion, but Capulet orders him not to take revenge. The scene ends with first Romeo and Juliet discovering that they are from rival families.
Act 2 Scene 1 Overview
Romeo hides from Mercutio and Benvolio who call after him. Mercutio mocks the overly romantic Romeo with playful insults and dirty jokes. When Romeo fails to return, they decide to go home.
Act 2 Scene 2 Overview
In the orchard of the Capulet's mansion, Romeo looks up towards a window and, seeing Juliet, reflects upon her beauty. He listens to her speak of her love for him and then emerges from the shadows, startling her. The couple talk of their love but are interrupted by Juliet's nurse calling for her. It is agreed that they will mary, and Juliet tells Romeo that she will send someone to him so the wedding can be arranged. The scene ends with neither of the lovers wishing to say their final goodbye.
Act 2 Scene 3 Overview
Friar Lawrence makes a comparison between human nature and the flower he is holding, which contains both medicine and poison. Romeo enters and tells him of his love for Juliet. The Friar questions the depth of Romeo's love in light of his recent 'love' for Rosaline; however, he agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet not because of love, but in the hope that it will end the feud between the two families.
Act 2 Scene 4 OverviewNow, the morning after the Capulet feast, Mercutio and Benvolio search for Romeo. Mercutio blames Romeo's absence on his love for the "pale, hard-hearted wench," Rosaline. Benvolio has discovered that Tybalt has sent Romeo a challenge to duel, and Mercutio is amused at the thought of an encounter between Romeo, the romantic, and Tybalt, the fashionable "Prince of Cats." Romeo then arrives and engages in a long series of linked puns and quibbles with Mercutio. The Nurse arrives with her servant, Peter, looking for Romeo. Mercutio exasperates her with his quick, sharp mockery. Mercutio leaves with Benvolio, and Romeo tellsthe Nurse that Juliet should meet him at Friar Laurence's cell at 2 p.m. that afternoon to be married. The Nurse is to collect a rope ladder from Romeo so that he can climb to Juliet's window to celebrate their wedding night.
ACT 2 SCENE 5 Overview
Juliet, alone in the garden, has been waiting for the Nurse’s return. The Nurse left at nine, promising to be back in half-an-hour, but it is now noon. Juliet wonders why the Nurse is late and feels that the messengers for lovers should be fast-footed. At last, the Nurse arrives. Juliet, anxious for news, asks her what has happened. The Nurse, instead of answering questions, starts complaining about her aches and pains. Then, she praises Romeo. She breaks off and asks if lunch is over. Then, she inquires where Lady Capulet is. She continues to tease her charge until Juliet loses her temper. The Nurse finally tells Juliet that the Friar has called her for confession that same afternoon and has also agreed to perform the marriage ceremony.
ACT 2 SCENE 6 Overview
Romeo, after meeting the Nurse, has gone at once to Friar Lawrence’s cell to make his confession before his marriage, and he is waiting there for Juliet’s arrival. The Friar prays for a blessing on the confession and absolution of Romeo which have just been performed. Romeo piously says ‘Amen’ to the benediction. He thinks of his approaching happiness and states that he is ready to die if necessary, an ironic foreshadowing of the final events of the play.
The Friar, in keeping with his personality, advises Romeo to moderate his joy and warns about hastiness. Juliet then enters quietly and stands silently. The Friar considers this silence as an indication that Juliet`s love will be eternal. Romeo asks Juliet to express her intentions, but she cannot because her emotions have overcome her. The Friar then bids them to follow him into the Chapel for the wedding ceremony.
ACT 3 SCENE 1 Overview
Mercutio and Benvolio are in the public square of the city. Benvolio suggests that they go home since the Capulets are likely to encounter them. Mercutio is always ready for a fight and accuses Benvolio of being too peace loving.
True to Benvolio’s prediction, Tybalt and his attendants arrive on the scene. Tybalt wants to know Romeo’s whereabouts as he has not replied to his letter of challenge. Mercutio mocks him and draws his sword. Just then, Romeo arrives.
Tybalt calls Romeo a villain. Romeo, fresh from his marriage to Juliet, informs him that reasons of love prevent him from fighting, but he denies that he is a villain. Tybalt again invites Romeo to a fight, and Romeo refuses. Because he has married Juliet, he now loves all the Capulets. Mercutio finds Romeo’s submission dishonorable and draws his sword. He dares Tybalt to fight him, and the duel begins. Romeo tries to stop the fight. In the confusion that follows, Tybalt wounds Mercutio. Tybalt and his men flee from the scene , and Mercutio dies.
When Tybalt returns, Romeo discards his softness, calls Tybalt a villain, and challenges him to fight to the death. When they fight, Romeo kills Tybalt. As the citizens attempt to arrest Romeo, Benvolio bids him to flee and he rushes off.
The Prince arrives with his attendants followed by Montagues and Capulets. Benvolio informs him that Tybalt killed Mercutio and, in turn, Romeo has slain the murderer. Lady Capulet breaks out in loud lamentations over the death of her beloved nephew and demands that Romeo be put to death. The Prince, paying no attention to her, asks for details of the affair from Benvolio. Benvolio states that Romeo was unwilling to fight and frames Tybalt as the aggressor. Lady Capulet again demands the death of Romeo. Montague takes Romeo’s side saying that Romeo is justified in avenging the death of Mercutio, his friend. The Prince then announces his decision. Romeo is now an exile from Verona, and each of the families is heavily fined. He also states that if Romeo is found in the city, he will be immediately put to death.
ACT 3 SCENE 2 Overview
Juliet waits impatiently in her garden for night to come and bring Romeo to her. Her solitude is interrupted by the Nurse. She arrives carrying the ladder that Romeo has requested, but she throws it away as if it were now useless. The Nurse then begins to ramble incoherently and says three times, “He is dead,” not revealing the identity of the deceased. Juliet concludes that she is speaking of her husband. With Romeo dead, Juliet believes she will be unable to live. The Nurse then mentions Tybalt`s dead body, a statement which leads Juliet to believe that both her husband and cousin are dead. The Nurse finally explains that it is Tybalt who is killed and that Romeo is banished from Verona as a result of the murder.
With sudden revulsion, Juliet loses self-control and denounces Romeo as an evil spirit in the form of an angel. The Nurse responds that there is no trust, no faith, and no honesty in man. Juliet, however, cannot tolerate any criticism of Romeo. The Nurse asks her how she could praise the man who has killed her cousin. Juliet replies that she will never speak ill of her husband. When Juliet thinks of his banishment from Verona and her, she breaks into tears. The Nurse instructs Juliet to go to her room. She herself will go to Friar Lawrence’s cell and bring Romeo, who is hiding there. Juliet gives the Nurse her ring to give to her husband as a token of her love for Romeo.
Act 3 Scene 3 OverviewIn Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo is overcome with grief, and wonders what sentence the Prince has decreed. Friar Lawrence tells him he is lucky: the Prince has only banished him. Romeo claims that banishment is a penalty far worse than death, since he will have to live, but without Juliet. The friar tries to counsel Romeo but the youth is so unhappy that he will have none of it. Romeo falls to the floor. The Nurse arrives, and Romeo desperately asks her for news of Juliet. He assumes that Juliet now thinks of him as a murderer and threatens to stab himself. Friar Lawrence stops him and scolds him for being unmanly. He explains that Romeo has much to be grateful for: he and Juliet are both alive, and after matters have calmed down, Prince Escalus might change his mind. The friar sets forth a plan: Romeo will visit Juliet that night, but make sure to leave her chamber, and Verona, before the morning. He will then reside in Mantua until news of their marriage can be spread. The Nurse hands Romeo the ring from Juliet, and this physical symbol of their love revives his spirits. The Nurse departs, and Romeo bids Friar Lawrence farewell. He must prepare to visit Juliet and then flee to Mantua.
Act 3 Scene 4 Overview
ACT 3 SCENE 5 Overview
The scene opens just before dawn on Tuesday morning, and Romeo and Juliet appear on the balcony of her room. He must leave the city before daylight, and the two are bidding a lingering farewell to each other. Romeo has heard the song of the lark announcing the coming of dawn, but Juliet, hoping to hold her husband awhile longer, insists that it was the nightingale. Romeo then points to the horizon where streaks of light are seen in the east, but she claims that it is a meteor to light him on his way to Mantua in the darkness. He says that he would prefer to die rather than leave her. At the word death, she yields and bids him to go before he is discovered and can escape. As Romeo prepares to depart, the Nurse announces Lady Capulet’s arrival. The two lovers exchange final kisses, and Romeo goes down the ladder. Juliet tells him to write to her every hour, and he promises to do so. They part after a very touching farewell.
When Lady Capulet comes in, she scolds Juliet for weeping too long over Tybalt’s death. She then announces that she has good news to cheer Juliet. Her father has fixed her marriage to Paris for Thursday morning at Saint Peter’s Church. Juliet, shocked by this complication, tells her mother that she refuses to marry a man who has not even wooed her. When Lady Capulet tells her husband about Juliet’s decision, Capulet cannot believe his ears and confronts his daughter. He orders her to be ready to go to church on Thursday . When Lady Capulet and Juliet plead with him, he refuses to listen. He threatens to disinherit her if she refuses to marry Paris.
Juliet’s pleading with her mother to put off the marriage even for a week is to no avail. Juliet then seeks the Nurse’s advice, but she has no wisdom for the young bride. Instead, the Nurse tells her that since Romeo is banished and will not dare to return, it would be better for Juliet to marry the handsome Paris and forget Romeo, a suggestion that is horrifying to Juliet. In a soliloquy, she describes the Nurse as the personification of evil and a wicked friend. She also asks herself which is the greater sin: to lie (as she has just done to her mother) or to speak ill of her husband. With determination and maturity, Juliet vows that she will never trust the Nurse’s advice again and that in future she will follow her own will. She then decides to go to Friar Lawrence to confess, receive absolution, and seek his advice, just like her husband sought refuge in the Friar’s cell after the murder of Tybalt. Since the young lovers cannot be honest with their own fathers, they always turn to their father confessor.
Act 4 Scene 1 Overview
Act 4 Scene 2 Overview
Act 4 Scene 3 Overview
Act 4 Scene 4-5 Overview
Act 5 Scene 1 Overview
Act 5 Scene 2 Overview
Act 5 Scene 3 Overview
This scene is set at night, in a graveyard with the sealed vault of the Capulets in the background. The effect of Juliet’s potion is beginning to wear off. Paris enters and places flowers on her tomb. He has posted a servant, some distance away, and told him to whistle if he sees anyone nearby. When he hears the page whistle, he steps into the dark. Romeo enters with Balthasar. He takes the pickaxe and crowbar from Balthasar and tells him to deliver a letter to his father. He plans to open the vault of Juliet, see her face, and take a ring from her finger. He tells his servant not to interfere, but the anxious Balthasar lingers nearby.
While Romeo is engaged in opening the tomb, Paris comes forward. He recognizes the killer of Tybalt, whose death he reasons, was the cause of Juliet’s suicide. Paris demands that Romeo surrender so that he can be taken to the Prince for breaking his exile. Romeo, in no mood for a fight, begs Paris to leave him alone so he will not have to commit another murder. Paris refuses and attempts to arrest Romeo, who defends himself. In the fight that follows, Romeo kills his opponent. The dying wish of Paris is that he be laid next to Juliet. By then, his page has run off to notify the authorities of the killing.
To his shock, Romeo discovers that his opponent was Paris, whom he failed to recognize in the dark. He recalls Balthasar telling him about Juliet’s proposed marriage to Paris. He accepts the dead man as a fellow unfortunate and lays him in the tomb beside Juliet. When Romeo sees his true love, he is pleased that death has not destroyed her beauty. He fancies that death has fallen in love with Juliet and that he must jealously guard her against “the abhorred monster”! He kisses her, drinks the poison, and dies.
Friar Lawrence enters the graveyard with the intention of opening the tomb. Balthasar sees him, but refuses to accompany him for fear of his master. The Friar enters the tomb, and is shocked to find Romeo and Paris lying dead. Juliet stirs, comes to her senses, and immediately asks for Romeo. Friar Lawrence tells her sorrowfully of Romeo’s death. He suggests that she join a sisterhood of nuns. Juliet spies her dead “husband” with an empty cup of poison in his hand. She kisses his lips, snatches Romeo’s dagger, and stabs herself. She falls dead on Romeo’s body.
Paris’ servant returns with the city watch. Balthasar and the Friar are arrested on suspicion of murder. Soon the Capulets and the Montagues arrive with the Prince. The Prince orders the arrested persons to be brought before him for trial. The Friar pleads not guilty and tells what has happened. The Prince reads Romeo’s letter to his father and realizes the truth of the Friar’s statements. Then, he rebukes the heads of the two opposing families for their enmity and holds himself responsible for not being severe in carrying out his orders for peace. The prince imposes no further penalties; the tragedy before them is sufficient punishment for them all.
Capulet then extends his hand in friendship to Montague, and each promises to raise a statue in gold of the other’s child. The Prince concludes that none has heard “a story of more woe than this of Juliet and Romeo.”