Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Everyone knows the basic plot of this story -- boy and girl fall in love and die in the end. Some other stuff you should know is this: In this story there are two families, the Montagues and the Capulets. They hate each other. Romeo is in one family and Juliet is in the other. So they have a "forbidden love" because the families hate each other but Romeo and Juliet love each other. This play is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The whole story takes place in the city of Verona, Italy.
Romeo Montague: The main guy in the story. Romeo is a good-looking kid, and a class act. He’s nice and sweet. He loves Juliet a lot. He kills himself in the end.
Juliet Capulet: The main girl in the story, she is a young hottie but she is sweet and innocent. She loves Romeo a lot. She dies in the end, too.
Lord and Lady Montague: Romeo’s parents. They are good parents and love him a lot. Lord Montague really doesn’t like being in the feud with the Capulet family.
Lord and Lady Capulet: Juliet’s family. They are in an unhappy marriage and aren’t very loving. Lord Capulet is a mean old man who wants everything to go his way. Lady Capulet is an unhappy overbearing woman.
Friar Lawrence: Friar Lawrence is a friar, like a priest or monk. He is a friend of Romeo’s and gives him advice on his pursuit of Juliet. The Friar also helps out by performing the secret marriage ceremony between Romeo and Juliet. He also helps Romeo hide when he’s in trouble.
Juliet’s nurse: Juliet’s nurse is not the classiest of people. She is loud and wild, and tries to act high class, but isn’t. She is very important to Juliet because Juliet tells her nurse all of her secrets, and the nurse carries messages between Juliet and Romeo (Because they have a forbidden love, remember?)
Mercutio: Mercutio is Romeo’s best friend. This guy is cool and he’s sarcastic and makes fun of people. Mercutio is an upper class guy, and always the life of the party.
Tybalt: Tybalt belongs to the Capulet family (Juliet’s family). Tybalt is a big jerk. All he wants to do is fight. He is like the opposite of Mercutio. Mercutio fights with words, Tybalt fights with his sword. In this book, Tybalt basically picks a fight with everyone.
Benvolio: Benvolio is a member of the Montague family (Romeo’s family). He is Romeo’s cousin. He is a good friend to Romeo, always listening to his problems and helping him out in tight spots. Benvolio is a cool guy, who likes peace more than fighting.
Paris: Paris (not the city) is a dude who is also in love with Juliet. But he never finds out that Juliet and Romeo are secret lovers. He is caught in a love triangle. Paris is a nice guy, and goes after Juliet like a gentleman: he asks her father for permission, blah blah blah. Paris dies in the story.
Prince Escalus: The ruler of Verona. He is seen in the story whenever there is a fight. He acts like a Prince should, by giving orders and making sure there is justice. He doesn't like the feud between the two families.
The story starts out with the servants of the Capulet family out looking to do mischief. They start a fight with the servants of the Montagues (rival family). Prince Escalus breaks up the fight and tells everyone that the next time there is a fight he is gonna kick some serious ass. Then Lord and Lady Montague (Romeo’s parents) ask Benvolio to find out what’s wrong with Romeo. Benvolio finds out Romeo is in love with this chick named Rosaline, a girl who doesn't like Romeo. Benvolio then wants to cheer up Romeo, so he, Mercutio and Romeo put on some disguises and go to the Capulet’s big party that night. At the party, Lord Capulet is happy because Paris has come to ask for Juliet’s hand in marriage. But then Romeo and Juliet meet and it’s love at first sight. They kiss and fall in love. Then Tybalt sees through Romeo’s disguise and he is mad because some Montagues are at a Capulet party. He tells Romeo that he is going to kick Romeo’s butt later. Then Romeo and Juliet find out that they are in two families who hate each other.
Later that night, Romeo goes to Juliet’s window to talk with her. This is that famous balcony scene (Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?…which doesn't mean: Where are you Romeo?…it means…why are you Romeo?…who are you to make me feel so much love but be an enemy of my family?). They tell each other how much they love each other and decide to marry. They go to Friar Lawrence, who agrees to perform the secret ceremony. Then Romeo goes to find Mercutio and finds him with Tybalt. Tybalt is still pissed about Romeo crashing the party and wants to kick his ass. Romeo refuses to fight because he is now married to Juliet and is related to Tybalt. Tybalt keeps pushing Romeo and finally Mercutio accepts the challenge. When Romeo tries to stop the fight, Tybalt kills Mercutio. After Mercutio is killed, Romeo gets really pissed and kills Tybalt. Then Prince Escalus finds out and banishes Romeo from Verona.
Back at Juliet’s house, Juliet’s nurse tells her about Romeo killing Tybalt and being banished from Verona. Juliet is really upset. Lord Capulet feels bad because everyone is sad over Tybalt’s death. So he wants to do something that will cheer everyone up. He arranges for Juliet and Paris to get married that week. Then Juliet’s nurse tells Juliet that Romeo is hiding in Friar Lawrence’s cell. So she goes to say goodbye to him. But Juliet is in a touchy situation. Her parents want her to marry Paris. If she doesn’t, they will disown her and she will be nobody. But she wants to be married to Romeo, and somehow keep her parent’s love.
Then Friar Lawrence comes up with a plan. He gives Juliet a drug, which will make her look dead for 42 hours. Then when she is lying in her tomb, he will get Romeo (who is now in Mantua, because he is banished from Verona). Romeo will come to the tomb when she wakes up and they will go off together in love. So they do this plan. Juliet takes the drug and then her nurse finds her in her bed. She looks dead, so everyone thinks that Juliet is dead. Then the Friar sends a message to Romeo that she is only on a drug, and will wake up. However, the messenger gets sick and doesn’t make the journey. So Romeo hears the news from his servant (who doesn’t know about the plan) and he thinks she really is dead. Romeo decides he is going to kill himself. So he goes to Juliet’s tomb with some poison. At the tomb he finds Paris who is grieving over Juliet. Romeo and Paris fight and Romeo kills Paris. Then Romeo goes to Juliet’s tomb. He sees her there and thinks she is dead. So Romeo is sad and takes the poison and dies because he wants to die with his great love Juliet. Meanwhile Friar Lawrence goes to the tomb to try and stop Romeo from killing himself (because Romeo doesn’t know Juliet is on that drug that makes you look dead). When he gets there, Juliet wakes up. She sees Romeo dead, and then she gets really upset and stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger. In the end, the two families who hate each other come together because they both have one thing in common: they both have kids who loved each other and who committed suicide.
ACT BY ACT/SCENE BY SCENE
- The servants of the Capulets are out in public, hanging out and talking smack about the Montague family.
- The Montague servants show up and the two groups of servants start a fight.
- Benvolio shows up and tries to stop the fight. Then Tybalt shows up and makes fun of Benvolio because Benvolio doesn’t like to fight.
- Then Lord and Lady Montague and Lord and Lady Capulet show up.
- Then Prince Escalus comes and stops the fight. He warns everyone that the next time they fight, people will be given the death penalty.
- Then Lord and Lady Montague talk with Benvolio about the fight. The conversation turns to their son, Romeo. They are worried because Romeo is sad and they don’t know why.
- Romeo shows up and he and Benvolio talk. Benvolio finds out that Romeo is sad because he is in love with some chick, but the girl doesn’t like him.
- Benvolio tries to cheer him up by promising Romeo that he will hook him up with another chick.
- The story then cuts to the Capulet house. Lord Capulet is there with Count Paris.
- Lord Capulet is happy because Paris wants to marry Juliet.
- Paris is a hunk: handsome, charming etc.
- Lord Capulet invites Paris to his party that night so he can get it on with Juliet.
- Then Lord Capulet gives the guest list to his servant, who can’t read.
- When the servant has it, he runs into Romeo and Benvolio.
- Romeo reads the list for the servant because the guy is an idiot.
- Romeo sees that Mercutio (his friend) is on the list. Benvolio wants to take Romeo to the party so Romeo can shag some other babes and forget about Rosaline, the chick who doesn’t give the time of day.
- This is the first time Juliet is in the book.
- Her mom comes to talk to her about marriage. Juliet’s nurse is there and she has a dirty mind, always making dirty sex jokes.
- Juliet’s mom wants her to get married because Paris is a stud, and because she was married at Juliet’s age.
- Juliet’s nurse wants her to get married because she can have lots of great sex.
- Then the story cuts back to Romeo.
- Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio are on their way to the Capulet’s party.
- Mercutio is invited, and Benvolio and Romeo are in disguises to sneak in.
- Mercutio is making fun of Romeo because he is such a lovesick dork.
- Romeo talks about some dream he had. The dream was about how something bad is going to happen to him in the future.
- The story cuts back to the Capulet’s party.
- Everyone is there and having a good time. Lord Capulet is talking to everyone.
- Romeo sees Juliet for the first time and falls head over heels in love with her.
- He talks to himself about what a fox she is, and Tybalt hears him.
- Tybalt is really pissed that Romeo is at the Capulet’s party (Because Romeo is a Montague).
- Tybalt wants to kick his ass.
- Lord Capulet stops Tybalt from fighting, and yells at him.
- Lord Capulet thinks Romeo isn’t that bad of a guy.
- Then Romeo meets Juliet. He says a lot of romantic lines to her.
- At the end of the party they both learn who each other is and that they are in two families who hate each other. Sucks, huh?
- Juliet amazes Romeo. He doesn’t want to go home.
- Benvolio and Mercutio look for Romeo but he hides.
- Benvolio and Mercutio keep looking for him and make fun of him.
- Romeo finds himself in Juliet’s garden.
- He overhears Juliet talking on her balcony about Romeo and what a hunk he is.
- He finally talks to her, and they talk some more romantic talk.
- Juliet’s nurse calls her to go to bed. Juliet goes inside but comes back out on the balcony.
- They talk about getting married, and then before they leave each other they set a date to have sex.
- The next morning, Friar Lawrence is at home picking flowers. Romeo comes to see him.
- Romeo tells the Friar about Juliet and asks the Friar to marry them.
- The Friar is hesitant at first because their families hate each other.
- The story cuts to Benvolio and Mercutio still looking for Romeo. Benvolio tells Mercutio two things: Romeo never came home and Tybalt challenged Romeo to a fight.
- Then Romeo shows up. Mercutio and Benvolio make fun of him.
- Then they all see a lady and start making fun of her. The lady turns out to be Juliet’s nurse.
- Juliet’s nurse is looking for Romeo, but gets mad at his friends.
- The Nurse and Romeo talk and he tells her about his love for Juliet.
- Juliet’s nurse returns to talk to Juliet.
- She tells Juliet to go to the Friar’s house.
- The nurse plans to help Juliet out with the wedding and also sneaking Romeo into her room for some heavy petting.
- Romeo is waiting at the Friar’s house, and Juliet comes.
- Friar wants to marry them quickly so they can get to the sex quicker. In olden times, the marriage was official after the first night of sex.
- The story cuts to Benvolio and Mercutio walking around, busting on each other.
- Then Tybalt shows up, looking for Romeo.
- Mercutio wants to fight him, but Tybalt is only interested in kicking Romeo’s ass.
- Then Romeo shows up. He refuses to fight Tybalt because now that he is married to Juliet, he is Tybalt’s cousin.
- Tybalt and Mercutio fight.
- Romeo tries to stop the fight but when he does that, Tybalt stabs Mercutio and runs.
- Mercutio dies and Romeo is pissed.
- Tybalt returns and he and Romeo fight. Romeo is really pissed and kills Tybalt.
- Then Romeo runs away.
- Prince Escalus shows up at the scene of the crime. Benvolio tells him what happened.
- Lady Capulet is very sad and asks the Prince to punish Romeo. He banishes Romeo from Verona.
- The story cuts back to Juliet, who is getting ready for her wedding night. She can’t wait.
- Then the Nurse tells Juliet about the fight. Juliet is upset that Tybalt is dead. But she’s not mad at Romeo for killing him because she is familiar with Tybalt’s temper and she loves and supports her husband.
- Then the nurse tells her Romeo is hiding out at Friar Lawrence’s house.
- The story cuts to Romeo. The Friar tells Romeo what his punishment is.
- Romeo thinks about suicide.
- Then Juliet’s nurse shows up at the Friar’s house. She tells Romeo that Juliet is upset. Romeo is sad that she is upset.
- Friar Lawrence has a plan: Romeo and Juliet will escape from Verona, go to Mantua, then return as a married couple.
- Then the story cuts to the Capulet house.
- Paris is there to court Juliet, but because she is so upset (supposedly over Tybalt’s death) nobody can see her.
- Before Paris leaves, Lord Capulet decides that he should marry Juliet that week, because marriage might cheer her up.
- Paris is cool with the idea so the wedding is set.
- When Lord Capulet starts to plan the wedding, Romeo visits Juliet and they hang out in Juliet’s bedroom.
- When day comes, Romeo leaves for Mantua.
- Lady Capulet comes in and sees Juliet crying. She thinks that Juliet is sad because of Tybalt (when actually she is sad because Romeo is gone).
- Lady Capulet thinks she is cheering Juliet up by telling her about her wedding with Paris.
- Juliet refuses to marry Paris because she doesn’t know him (and she loves Romeo).
- Then Juliet tells her father she is not marrying Paris. He is pissed. He disowns her. Even Juliet’s nurse thinks she should marry Paris.
- Juliet decides to go see Friar Lawrence, to talk to him
- At Friar Lawrence’s house, Paris is there arranging his wedding. Then Juliet shows up and they see each other there.
- Paris asks Juliet if she loves him and Juliet never gives him a straight answer. Then she meets with the Friar privately.
- Then Juliet spills her guts to Friar Lawrence and asks him for help.
- Friar Lawrence has a plan: She will agree to marry Paris, but before their wedding, she will take this drug that makes her look dead for 42 hours.
- Then Friar will tell Romeo of the plan and he will come to her tomb, and take her to Mantua where they can live happily ever after.
- Juliet digs the plan.
- Juliet goes back home so her dad can forgive her. Everyone is planning for the wedding and he moves it sooner by one day.
- They tell Paris and Paris is happy that Juliet is marrying him now (so they think).
- Juliet goes to her bathroom and is alone so she can take the drug. She’s a little scared about taking this drug because something could go wrong with the plan.
- But she takes the drug anyway.
- Everyone is preparing for the wedding. Lord Capulet is up late doing stuff for the ceremony.
- The Nurse goes to wake up Juliet, since they think she’s asleep.
- The Nurse tries to wake up Juliet, but can’t.
- Juliet’s nurse sees that she is dead. She calls for everyone to come.
- Everyone is sad. Friar Lawrence is there and he’s the only one who knows that she’s really not dead. But he pretends to mourn anyway.
- So, instead of a wedding, they have a funeral.
- The story cuts to Romeo, who is in Mantua.
- Romeo’s servant Balthasar comes from Verona to tell Romeo that he saw Juliet in a tomb and that she was dead. Romeo is shocked.
- Romeo decides he will go to Verona and kill himself. So he buys some poison.
- The story cuts to Friar Lawrence’s house. The friar is with a monk friend of his named John.
- Friar Lawrence sent John to Mantua to tell Romeo about the plan, but on the way John got sick with the plague and didn’t make it. So now Romeo doesn’t know Juliet is faking death, he actually thinks she is dead.
- Friar Lawrence is scared because the plan is going to the dogs and something bad might happen.
- He goes to Juliet’s tomb to try and hide her before Romeo comes.
- The story cuts to the Capulet’s tomb. Paris is there to pay his respects to Juliet. Then Romeo shows up and Paris hides.
- Romeo plans to open the tomb, kill himself and lay with Juliet.
- Then before Romeo can do anything Paris confronts him. They fight and Romeo kills Paris.
- Paris’ last wish is to be buried near Juliet. Romeo does just that.
- Then Romeo sees Juliet and Tybalt’s tomb. He asks forgiveness from Tybalt (who is dead).
- Then Romeo makes a final speech about his love for Juliet and then drinks the poison and dies.
- Meanwhile, Friar Lawrence shows up and sees that Paris and Romeo are both dead. Then Juliet wakes up and she sees that Romeo is dead. The Friar hears people coming, so he takes off.
- Then Juliet is sad because Romeo is dead, so she takes his dagger and kills herself.
- The police and Prince Escalus show up. Then the Montague family and Capulet family are called to the scene. Friar Lawrence returns and tells everyone about Romeo and Juliet’s plan to fake death, etc.
- The two families share their grief and finally make peace with each other. They promise to erect statues of Romeo and Juliet as a tribute.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
- This is one of the most famous books about love ever.
- Emotions run very high in this story -- The Montagues and Capulets hate each other, but Romeo and Juliet love each other. Ultimately, hate kills love.
- Death is made to look romantic in this book. Everyone dies for a reason that deals with love.
- Although a lot of people would say this is play is about true love and all…you might want to consider this: Is Romeo really in love with Juliet, or in love with the idea of love and romance? They both die before they have to deal with the boring issues of day to day life together, so of course it's romantic.
- The two big deaths in the end are portrayed as the ultimate act of romance even though they committed suicide.
- This play is a tragedy.