16th Century

The Love Story of Romeo and Juliet

Friday, January 21, 2011

Romeo and Juliet is an enduring tragic love story written by William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. Shakespeare borrowed his plot from an original Italian tale.  It is believed Romeo and Juliette were based on actual characters from Verona. 

The Montague and Capulet families are feuding.  The Prince of Verona intervenes and declares that any further fighting will be punishable by death.

When the Count of Paris approaches Lord Capulet about marrying his daughter, Juliet, he is wary of the request because she is only thirteen.  Capulet asks the Count of Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a ball.  Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse urge Juliet to accept Paris' courtship.

In the Montague house, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Lord Montague's son, about Romeo's recent melancholy.  Benvolio discovers Romeo's unrequited infatuation for a girl named Rosaline, a niece of Lord Capulet's nieces.  Persuaded by Benvolio Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline.  But it is not Rosaline who sweeps him off his feet - it is the fair Juliette.


 
 

After the ball, Romeo sneaks into the Capulet courtyard and overhears Juliet on her balcony vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred for his family.  Romeo makes himself known to her and they agree to be married. 

 
Juliet's Balcony in Verona

With the help of a friar, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are secretly married the next day.


Juliet's cousin Tybalt, incensed that Romeo had crashed the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel.  Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight.  Romeo's friend, Mercutio is offended by Tybalt's insolence, as well as Romeo's "vile submission" and accepts the duel on Romeo's behalf.  Mercutio is fatally wounded when Romeo attempts to break up the fight.  Grief-stricken and wracked with guilt, Romeo confronts and slays Tybalt.

Montague argues that Romeo has justly fought and killed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio.  The Prince exiles Romeo from Verona and declares that if Romeo returns, he will be executed.  

Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they make love for the first and last time, consummating their marriage.  In the morning, he prepares to leave and kisses her one last time. 

  
Lord Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses.  Juliette pleads for the marriage to be delayed, but her mother rejects her.

Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a drug that will put her into a death-like coma for forty-two hours.  The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan, so that he can rejoin her when she awakens.  On the night before her wedding to the Count, Juliet takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.

The messenger, however, failed to reach Romeo and, instead, he learned of Juliet's apparent demise from his servant.  Heartbroken, Romeo buys poison from an apothecary and goes to the Capulet crypt.  There, he encounters Count Paris who has come to mourn Juliet privately.

Believing Romeo to be a vandal, Paris confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Romeo kills Paris.  Still believing Juliet to be dead, Romeo drinks the poison.

Juliet then awakens only to find her beloved Romeo dead.  Unwilling to live without him, she stabs herself with his dagger.

The feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead.  The Friar recounts their story.  The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their violent feud.

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