Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare
(1564 - 1616)

Type of Work:

Romantic tragedy


Verona, Italy; Fifteenth century

Principal Characters

Romeo, son of the house of Montague

Juliet, daughter of the Capulet household

Benvolio, Romeo\'s cousin

Mercutio, Romeo\'s friend

Tybalt, Juliet\'s cousin

Lady Montague, the clan\'s matriarch

Lady Capulet, Juliet\'s mother

Juliet\'s ribald nurse

Friar Lawrence, a Franciscan Monk

Story Overveiw

For a very long time the Capulets and
the Montagues had been feuding. Harsh words often led to violence between
the two houses, who were sworn as deadly enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona
happened upon one such bloody brawl and angrily pronounced, "If ever you
disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace."

Shortly after this, Romeo and his cousin

Benvolio met on the street, and Romeo sadly confessed his unrequited love
for an aloof and indifferent young woman. "[Give] liberty unto thine eyes;

Examine other beauties," was Benvolio\'s curative. But Romeo was unmoved:

"Thou canst not teach me to forget."

Meanwhile, as Lord Capulet arranged for
the marriage of Juliet, his fourteen-year-old daughter, to Paris, a kinsman
of the Prince, he advised Paris to woo the girl gently. That night Capulet
was to give a party so Paris could meet Juliet. He called a servant to
deliver the invitations.

Now the servant could not read, so as he
walked along he petitioned Romeo and Benvolio to read the guest list to
him. In thanks, he told Romeo, "If you be not of the house of Montagues,

I pray come and crush a cup a wine." Since Romeo\'s unreceptive Rosaline
was named among the guests, Benvolio urged Romeo to go and find out for
himself that Rosaline was a "crow."

As Romeo and his friend Mercutio, both
wearing masks, searched for Rosaline among the gathering, Romeo\'s eyes
fell upon the exquisite Juliet - and Romeo remembered Rosaline no more:

"O, she cloth teach the torches to burn bright! .... Did my heart love
till now?" he chimed. However, fier y Tybalt, Capulet\'s nephew, overheard

Romeo pourin 9 out his heart and reported to his uncle that a Montague
had invaded their festivity. But Capulet was not alarmed and would have
no bloodshed,besides Romeo seemed to be "a virtuous and wellgoverned youth."

Romeo approached Juliet offering "my lips,
two blushing pilgrims," to which Juliet replied, "Ay, pilgrim, lips that
thou must use in prayer." But Romeo at last convinced her to press her
lips to his - just before Juliet\'s Capulet mother called her away. Romeo
was stunned by this revelation that the girl was a daughter of his father\'s
enemy, but vowed that not even death would keep him from his true love.

The party ended, leaving Romeo outside
the Capulet house, gazing up in lovesick rapture at Julict\'s window. Just
then, to his joy, Juliet leaned from her balcony. Romeo whispered: "But
soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet
is the sun!" As he debated within himself whether to speak to her, she,
thinking herself alone, began to pour out her heart: "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore
art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or, if thou wilt not,
be but sworn mv love, and I\'ll no longer be a Capulet."

Unable to contain himself, Romeo stepped
out of the shadows. Though ashamed at her overheard declaration, Juliet
reconfirmed her passion, but warned him that if her family discovered him
there, he would be killed. Romeo was not alarmed, "For stony limits cannot
hold love out." As he swore of his love by the moon, and by his heart,

Juliet begged him not to swear at all. Things were happening too fast;
the world seemed suddenly brilliant and fragile "like the lightening which
cloth cease to be." So, the fragile lovers exchanged vows and agreed to
meet the next morning.

On his way home, Romeo stopped by the monastery
to visit Friar Lawrence. "Our Romeo hath not been in bed to-night," the

Friar observed. "I have been feasting with mine enemy," replied the young
man...... Plainly know my heart\'s dear love is set on the fair daughter
of rich Capulet ... what thou must combine by holy marriage." The Friar
teased Romeo for his fickle nature (only yesterday he had professed undying
love for Rosaline), but agreed to perform the marriage, in the hope that"this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households\' rancor to pure

The following morning, Mercutio and Benvolio
were worried ly searching for Romeo; Tybalt had sent out a challenge for
him to fight. But when the pair finally met up with their enamored young
kinsman, he was in no mood for fighting. At