Romeo and Juliet Crash Course - Part 3: Plot and Main Themes

Plot

  • In the city of Verona a brawl breaks out between the feuding families of Capulet and Montague.

  • Benvolio, a Montague, tries to break up the fight, but is brought into it when the Tybalt from House Capulet, arrives on the scene.

  • Prince Escalus, turns up and attempts to prevent any further conflicts between the families by decreeing death for any individual who disturbs the peace.

  • Romeo, the son of Montague, runs into his cousin Benvolio, who had earlier seen Romeo moping.

  • Romeo confesses that he is in love with Rosaline, a woman who does not love him back.

  • Benvolio advises to him to forget her find another one, but Romeo ignores him.

  • Meanwhile, Paris, seeks Juliet’s hand in marriage. Her father Capulet is happy of the match, but asks Paris to wait two years, since Juliet is not yet even fourteen.

  • Capulet sends a servant with a list of people to invite to a masquerade and feast he traditionally holds and invites Paris to the feast, hoping that Paris will win Juliet’s heart.

  • Romeo and Benvolio encounter the Capulet servant bearing the list of invitations.

  • Benvolio suggests that they attend, since it’ll distract Romeo with the other beautiful women of Verona.

  • Romeo agrees to go with Benvolio to the feast, but only because Rosaline, whose name he reads on the list, will be there.


  • In the Capulet estate, Juliet talks with her mother, Lady Capulet, and Nurse about marrying Paris.

  • Juliet has not yet considered marriage, but agrees to consider Paris during the feast to see if she thinks she could fall in love with him.

  • At the feast, a melancholy Romeo follows Benvolio and Mercutio to Capulet’s house.

  • When they get inside, Romeo sees Juliet from a distance and instantly falls in love with her, completely forgetting about Rosaline.

  • As Romeo watches Juliet, Tybalet recognizes him, and is furious that a Montague had snuck in. He prepares to attack, but Capulet holds him back.

  • Soon, Romeo speaks to Juliet, and the two find that they are extremely attracted to one another.

  • They kiss, not even knowing each other’s names.

  • He finds out from Nurse that Juliet is the daughter of Capulet, and he does a double take.

  • When Juliet learns that the young man she has just kissed is the son of Montague, she is just as upset as Romeo.

  • Mercutio and Benvolio leave the Capulet estate, but Romeo sneaks into the backyard of the Capulet mansion.

  • From his hiding place, he sees Juliet in a window hears her speak his name. He calls out to her, and they express their love for one another and make a vow of marriage.


  • Romeo hurries to see his friend,Friar Lawrence, who is shocked at how quickly Romeo has moved on, but agrees to marry the young lovers in secret, since he hopes the union will end the age-old feud between Capulet and Montague.

  • The next day, Romeo and Juliet meet at Friar Lawrence’s apothecary and are married. Nurse, who keeps their secret, manages to find a ladder that Romeo will use to climb into Juliet’s window for their wedding night.

  • The next day, Benvolio and Mercutio bump into Tybalt, who is still mad that Romeo snuck into Capulet’s feast, and challenges him to a duel.

  • When Romeo appears, he begs the Capulet to hold off the duel.

  • Tybalt is disgusted with his plea for peace, and Mercutio says that he will fight Tybalt himself, and the two begin to duel.

  • Romeo tries to stop them by jumping between the two, but Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and Mercutio dies.

  • Romeo impulsively kills Tybalt and flees from the scene.

  • After, the Prince declares Romeo banished from Verona for his crime of disturbing the peace.

  • Friar Lawrence arranges for Romeo to spend his wedding night with Juliet before he has to leave for Mantua the next morning.

  • Juliet awaits the arrival of her new husband in her room.

  • Nurse enters and tells Juliet that Romeo has killed Tybalt. Juliet is initially distraught, but realises that her alliance is with Romeo.

  • Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s room that night, and they consummate their marriage.

  • In the morning, Romeo departs, unsure when they will see each other again.

  • Juliet learns that her father, in response to the recent events, now wishes for her to marry Paris in just three days time.

  • Juliet asks her nurse for advice, who tells her to act as if Romeo were dead and to marry Paris, who is a better match anyway.

  • Juliet disregards her advice, appalled by her disloyalty, and hurries to Friar Lawrence.

  • He comes up with a plan to reunite Juliet with Romeo in Mantua: the night before her wedding to Paris, Juliet will drink a potion that will fake her death, and after her body is put in the family’s crypt, Friar Lawrence and Romeo will secretly retrieve her, and she will be free to live with Romeo.

  • Juliet goes home to discover that wedding has been moved ahead one day, and she is to be married the next day.

  • That night, Juliet drinks the potion, and Nurse finds her the next morning. Juliet is placed in the family tomb, but Friar Lawrence’s letter explaining the plan to Romeo doesn’t get to him, and Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead.

  • Romeo decides to kill himself rather than live without her. He buys a vial of poison from an apothecary, then heads back to Verona to take his own life at Juliet’s tomb.

  • Outside the Capulet crypt, Romeo bumps into Paris, who is leaving flowers at Juliet’s grave.

  • A fight breaks out between them, and Romeo kills Paris.

  • He enters the tomb and sees Juliet’s body, drinks the poison, and dies by her side.

  • Friar Lawrence enters and realises that Romeo has killed Paris and himself. At the same time, Juliet awakes.

  • Friar Lawrence hears the guards making their way towards the tomb, and when Juliet refuses to leave with him, he flees without her.

  • Juliet sees Romeo and realises he has killed himself with poison.

  • She kisses his poisoned lips in the hopes that the leftover poison will kill her too, but there is not enough. Instead, she buries Romeo’s dagger in her chest, killing herself and falling dead by his side.

  • The guards arrive with the Prince, the Capulets, and Montague.

  • Montague announces that Lady Montague has died of grief over Romeo’s exile.

  • After seeing their children’s bodies, Capulet and Montague agree to end their century’s old feud and erect gold statues of their children side-by-side as a sign of peace in Verona.

Main Themes


Love

  • Shakespeare’s intention in writing this play was to emphasise the dynamic between lovers

  • Love is the most important theme of the play, as it is what brings Romeo and Juliet, and eventually the Montagues and Capulets, together

  • Shakespeare explores the power of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship by displaying the impacts it has on the characters from either two houses

  • Shakespeare also highlights the high stakes of having such a dangerous relationship

  • Ultimately, Shakespeare’s purpose in writing the play is to make a statement - that love can drive individuals to do crazy things.


Hatred

  • Hatred is a key theme in the play

  • Hatred almost always results in violence in the play, as the Capulets and Montagues duel one another as a result of petty reasons

  • Without hatred between the two houses, the characters in the play would not have suffered or died

  • If the hatred between the two families did not exist, Romeo and Juliet may not have had the outcome of their deaths, and maybe not have even met

  • It is through the long standing hatred that love eventually grew, and ultimately, peace.

Fate

  • Fate plays an important part in the play, especially in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship

  • Fate is in relation to the natural order of things

  • It can also be interpreted as coincidence

  • An example of this is Romeo and Juliet meeting to begin with. They are from the two rival houses of the play, and yet they managed to fall in love from across the room

  • Another example is Friar Lawrence’s letter not being sent through to Romeo. It could be that fate made sure the letter didn’t reach Romeo so that the two would end up dying, resulting in peace that should have been in place for centuries.

That concludes our 3 part series on Romeo and Juliet. We hope this crash course was helpful for you!


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