Romeo and Juliet: Plot Synopsis

Act 1

Scene 1

Evidence of the feuding between the two families the Montagues and the Capulets – fight – stopped by the Prince, the families warned.

Lord Montague doesn’t know why his son is so moody and depressed – Benvolio worms it out of him – Romeo is in love with an unattainable woman – Rosaline.

Scene 2

Paris asks for Juliet’s hand in marriage. Benvolio suggests he and Romeo gatecrash the Capulet party.

Scene 3

Lady Capulet and the nurse broach the subject of marriage and the Count Paris with Juliet.

Scene 4

Mercutio and Romeo have both had ominous dreams about the consequences of tonight’s ball.

Scene 5

The Ball – Romeo is there to catch a glimpse of his beloved Rosaline but sees instead Juliet and falls hopelessly in love! Tybalt recognises Romeo and is furious. Lord Capulet prevents Tybalt causing a scene. Romeo and Juliet meet, flirt and then find out who the other is!

 

Act 2

Scene 1

Romeo hides from his friends as they leave the party.

Scene 2

Romeo breaks into the Capulet estate- sees Juliet at her window – hears her profess love for him – encouraged he speaks to her, vows to change his name, anything to prove his love for her. She moves things on by suggesting marriage and he agrees to arrange it.

Scene 3

Romeo goes to Friar Laurence to persuade him to marry them; Friar Laurence is shocked at Romeo’s so sudden change of heart from Rosaline to Juliet but sees in the alliance a way to break the feud between the families.

Scene 4

Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel for his audacity of the night before; the nurse comes to find out what the arrangements are for the wedding.

Scene 5

The nurse tells Juliet the plan.

Scene 6

Romeo and Juliet meet and are married but separate until nightfall.

 

Act 3

Scene 1

Mercutio and Benvolio get drawn into a battle of wits and words with Tybalt; Romeo arrives, Tybalt insults him, Mercutio refuses to let the insult pass, gets into a fight with Tybalt, Romeo joins in to prevent his friend getting killed but he does anyway; Romeo is devastated, Tybalt triumphant and Mercutio curses both families.

Romeo chases Tybalt and kills him in revenge.

Scene 2

The nurse tells Juliet that her cousin is dead and killed by her own husband. Juliet is at first horrified but soon remembers her love for her new husband and after all if Tybalt had had his way Romeo’d be dead instead of him!

Scene 3

Friar Laurence has to convince Romeo to go through with his wedding night for otherwise the bad feeling between the families will only get worse; he sees this wedding night as the only way to make the best of the situation. The Friar suggests that in the morning Romeo ‘vanish’ to Mantua to wait out the storm of family grief, until calmer times prevail.

Scene 4

Paris comes to offer his condolences but ends up being persuaded to bring forward the date of his wedding with Juliet.

Scene 5

It is the morning after the night before! Romeo and Juliet bid farewell. This scene is full of references to death and their own fates.

Juliet’s mother informs her of her impending marriage to Paris; her hysterical reaction is taken as a sign of her grief at her cousin’s death still. Her mother washes her hands of her and her father threatens to disown her. Even the nurse now suggests she commit the sin of bigamy by marrying Paris, after all she reasons Romeo could hardly object. Juliet comes to her decision and sends the nurse to the Friar.

 

Act 4

Scene 1

Juliet persuades Friar Laurence to help her and he comes up with a dangerous scheme to give her a drug which will make her sleep so deeply she will be thought dead and then to get news to Romeo so that her can arrive in time to catch her waking and then they can elope in secrecy.

Scene 2

Back home and Juliet pretends to give in to the inevitable.

Scene 3

In a long soliloquy Juliet explains her actions even while pondering the possible consequences, but decides she would rather be dead than without Romeo. She takes the potion.

Scene 4

The Capulet household prepare for the wedding and the nurse is ent to wake Juliet.

Scene 5

Juliet’s death is discovered; the Friar lays the blame at the parents feet for forcing her to marry against her will; he accuses them of wanting only their own advancement by this marriage and not her best interests, and now it is too late. ( He is of course setting them up for the later reconciliation with their beloved daughter and her ‘enemy’ husband.)

 

Act 5

Scene 1

Unfortunately Romeo’s friend Balthasar, upon hearing of Juliet’s death, races to Mantua to give him the awful news thus preventing the arrival of the Friar’s message of the true story. Romeo races back to Verona unaware of the true nature of ~Juliet’s death. In shock and horror he bullies an apothecary into giving him a phial of poison to take when he reaches Juliet’s grave.

Scene 2

The Friar discovers that his message did not get to Romeo.

Scene 3

Paris goes to visit his unwed bride; Romeo meets him there. Paris thinking that Juliet died of a broken heart for her cousin Tybalt and, knowing that Romeo killed him, thinks to help avenge her death by killing Romeo. They fight and Romeo kills Paris. Romeo has his soliloquy now as he professes his love for Juliet and vows to join her in heaven.

Friar Laurence arrives at the vault, discovers the blood, knows that something awful has happened. Juliet wakes up and demands to know where her husband is. The Friar tells her he is dead and promises to get her to a nunnery quietly. She refuses his offer; he leaves in case his part is discovered; she grabs Romeo’s dagger and stabs herself.

The new deaths are discovered; incomprehension reigns. Montague’s wife died during the night too broken-hearted at her son’s exile. Friar Laurence tells all to clear up the confusion and to point the blame where it truly lies.

The Prince declares all, losers in this affair. Capulet makes the first move to heal the breach but his offer is welcomed by old Montague and they vow to bury the hatchet.

The Prince makes the final pronouncement and words of warning to all of what feuding can lead to.

 


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