Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.

Plot Overview Edit

In streets of Verona, Italy, a brawl takes place between servants of the House of Montague and House of Capulet who, like their masters, are sworn enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death. Later, Count Paris talks to Lord Capulet about marrying his daughter Juliet, but Capulet asks Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a planned Capulet ball. Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse try to persuade Juliet to accept Paris's courtship.

Meanwhile, Benvolio talks with his cousin and Lord Montague's son, Romeo about the latter's recent depression. He discovers that it stems from unrequited infatuation for a girl named Rosaline, one of Capulet's nieces. Persuaded by Benvolio and Mercutio, Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. However, Romeo instead meets and falls in love with Juliet. Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, is enraged at Romeo for sneaking into the ball, but is only stopped from killing Romeo by Juliet's father, who doesn't wish to shed blood in his house. After the ball, Romeo sneaks into the Capulet orchard and overhears Juliet at her window vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred of the Montagues. Romeo makes himself known to her and they agree to be married. With the help of Friar Laurence, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are secretly married the next day.

Tybalt, meanwhile, still incensed that Romeo had sneaked into the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel. Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight. 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 executed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio. The Prince, now having lost a kinsman in the warring families' feud, exiles Romeo from Verona, under penalty of death if he ever returns. Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they consummate their marriage. Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses to become Paris's "joyful bride". When she then pleads for the marriage to be delayed, her mother rejects her.

Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a potion that will put her into a deathlike coma for "two and forty 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 the wedding, she takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt. The messenger, however, does not reach Romeo and, instead, Romeo learns of Juliet's apparent death from his servant Balthasar. Heartbroken, Romeo buys poison from an apothecary and goes to the Capulet crypt. He encounters 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, he drinks the poison. Juliet then awakens and, finding Romeo dead, stabs herself with his dagger. The feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead. Friar Laurence recounts the story of the two "star-cross'd lovers". The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their violent feud. The play ends with the Prince's elegy for the lovers: "For never was a story of more woe/Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."


  • Romeo Montague, heir of House Montague.
  • Lord Montague, father of Romeo.
  • Lady Montague, mother of Romeo.
  • Benvolio, cousin and best friend of Romeo.
  • Friar Laurence, confident of Romeo.
  • Friar John, messenger of Friar Laurence.
  • Escalus, prince of Verona.
  • Mercutio, kinsman of Escalus and friend of Romeo.
  • Abram and Balthaser, servants of the Montagues.
  • Juliet Capulet, heiress of House Capulet.
  • Lord Capulet, father of Juliet.
  • Lady Capulet, mother of Juliet.
  • Tybalt, maternal cousin of Juliet.
  • Rosaline, paternal cousin of Juliet and first love interest of Romeo.
  • Nurse, confident of Juliet.
  • Paris, kinsman of Escalus and suitor of Juliet.
  • Peter, Sampson and Gregory, servants of the Capulets.
  • An Apothacary, who reluctantly sells Romeo poison.
  • Chorus, who reads a prologue to each of the first two acts.
v - e - d Plays
Titus Andronicus | Romeo and Juliet | Julius Caesar | Hamlet | Troilus and Cressida | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Timon of Athens | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | The Tempest
All's Well That Ends Well | As You Like It | The Comedy of Errors | Love's Labour's Lost | Measure for Measure | The Merchant of Venice | The Merry Wives of Windsor | A Midsummer Night's Dream | Much Ado About Nothing | Pericles, Prince of Tyre | The Taming of the Shrew | The Tempest | Twelfth Night | The Two Gentlemen of Verona | The Two Noble Kinsmen | The Winter's Tale | Cymbeline
King John | Edward III | Richard II | Henry IV | Henry V | Henry VI | Richard III | Henry VIII | Coriolanus | Julius Caesar | Antony and Cleopatra | King Lear | Macbeth