The chorus describes two rival families living in the city of Verona. They talk about a long grudge between the families which has led to many violent conflicts. The chorus also introduce two lovers, whose deaths end their parent’s feud and bring peace between the families.
Act I, scene 1
Servants from the rival Capulet and Montague families are fighting on the streets of Verona. Benvolio, a Montague, tries to stop the fight but is attacked by Tybalt, a Capulet. The Prince of the city ends the brawl and threatens severe punishment for disturbing the peace again. Lord Montague and Lady Montague ask Benvolio whether their son, Romeo, was involved in the brawl.
They are concerned about his behaviour and wish to know the cause of his sorrow. Benvolio finds out that Romeo is deeply in love with a girl, Rosaline, but she does not love him back. Benvolio advises Romeo to forget Rosaline and seek out other girls, but Romeo vows he only has love for her.
Act I, scene 2
Paris wishes to marry Capulet’s daughter, Juliet. Lord Capulet advises Paris to spend some time winning his daughter’s affections first, beginning at their upcoming party.
A Capulet servant, sent on the errand to deliver his master’s party invitations, bumps into Romeo and Benvolio. The servant cannot read and so asks Romeo to read the invitation for him. Romeo finds out that Rosaline’s name is on the list for the party. The servant, unknowing that Benvolio and Romeo are from the Montague family, invites them both to come along.
Act I, scene 3
Lady Capulet asks Juliet what she thinks about marrying Paris. Juliet says that she does not yet think of marriage but agrees to take a look at Paris to see if she might love him.
Act I, scene 4
Romeo, Benvolio and their friend, Mercutio, wait outside the Capulet’s House. Romeo is beginning to have second thoughts about the party after a bad dream he had the night before. He fears that going will lead to a bad twist of fate but enters anyway.
Act I, scene 5
At the party, Romeo spots a girl, Juliet, and is captivated by her. Meanwhile, Tybalt recognises Romeo as a Montague and plans to kill him. Capulet overhears Tybalt’s rage and apprehends him, desiring peace at his party.
Romeo meets Juliet and they talk and kiss. They are soon interrupted by Juliet’s Nurse who calls Juliet to her mother. Romeo enquires who Juliet’s mother is and the Nurse tells him it is Lady Capulet. Meanwhile, Juliet asks her Nurse who Romeo is and discovers that he is the son of their great enemy, Montague.
Act II, scene 1
The chorus describes the new love between Romeo and Juliet but how they are unable to fully express their love because of their families. The chorus says that the passion between Romeo and Juliet gives them the strength to continue their relationship. After the party, Romeo goes to find Juliet. Meanwhile, Benvolio and Mercutio are trying to find him. They call out but when he does not answer they assume he does not want to be found.
Act II, scene 2
Romeo spots Juliet alone on her balcony. Juliet talks about Romeo unaware that he can hear her. Romeo, unable to keep silent, surprises Juliet and speaks. Juliet worries that he will get caught but Romeo refuses to leave. They are interrupted several times by Juliet’s Nurse who is calling her back inside. Juliet tells Romeo that she will send someone to him tomorrow morning to confirm his love and his intentions to marry her.
Act II, scene 3
Romeo comes to meet Friar Laurence to ask if he will perform the marriage ceremony. Friar Laurence agrees, as he believes it will bring peace between the two households, but he fears Romeo’s haste.
Act II, scene 4
Mercutio and Benvolio discuss a letter, sent from Tybalt, challenging Romeo to a dual. Romeo joins them and is mocked by Mercutio for abandoning them in the pursuit of love. Juliet’s Nurse comes to see Romeo on behalf of Juliet. Mercutio and Benvolio go to supper whilst Romeo tells the Nurse about the marriage plans. He says that Juliet should meet him that afternoon at Friar Laurence’s cell.
Act II, scene 5
Juliet waits impatiently for her Nurse to return. Eventually she tells Juliet to go to Friar Laurence’s cell where Romeo is waiting for her.
Act II, scene 6
Friar Laurence and Romeo wait for Juliet to arrive. She comes and Friar Laurence takes the couple off to be wed.
Act III, scene 1
Benvolio and Mercutio are talking in the street when they are interrupted by Tybalt and his followers. Tybalt sees Romeo coming and draws his sword ready for a fight. Mercutio steps in and he and Tybalt fight instead. Romeo tries to stop them but Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm and flees the scene.
Benvolio leaves with the injured Mercutio. Romeo is angry at himself for not fighting his own battle with Tybalt. Benvolio comes back and tells Romeo that Mercutio is dead.
Tybalt returns and Romeo seeks revenge for Mercutio and stabs him. Benvolio tells Romeo to run away to avoid the Prince’s punishment. The Prince enters with the Capulets and the Montagues. Benvolio explains that Tybalt stabbed Mercutio and so Romeo stabbed Tybalt. Lady Capulet tells the Prince that Romeo must be put to death for killing Tybalt. The Prince decides that Romeo should instead be banished for his actions.
Act III, scene 2
Juliet is at home and longs for it to be night when Romeo will come to her. The Nurse tells her that Romeo killed Tybalt and is now banished. Juliet is devastated and worries that she won’t get to have her wedding night with him. The Nurse tells Juliet that she will find Romeo for her at Friar Laurence’s cell.
Act III, scene 3
Friar Laurence tells Romeo that he has been banished for killing Tybalt. Romeo believes banishment is worse than a death sentence because he will be living in a world without Juliet. Juliet’s Nurse comes and wants to speak with Romeo. Romeo is distraught and is worried what Juliet now thinks of him. Friar Laurence tells Romeo to go to Juliet but to leave for Mantua before the next morning. In time, once the news of their marriage has spread, the Friar believes Romeo may be able to return.
Act III, scene 4
Capulet assures Paris that Juliet will do as he wishes and marry him. He asks his wife to go to Juliet and tell her the news.
Act III, scene 5
Romeo and Juliet are together in her room. They are sad to soon be leaving one another and wonder when they will meet again. The Nurse tells Juliet that her mother is calling for her so Romeo and Juliet say their farewells. Lady Capulet believes the cause of her daughter’s sadness is her grief for Tybalt rather than Romeo’s banishment. Lady Capulet tells Juliet she has good news about her intended marriage to Paris but Juliet refuses to accept him.
Capulet is enraged that Juliet is disobeying him and threatens to disown her if she will not marry. Juliet begs her mother to delay the marriage but Lady Capulet wishes to have no involvement. Juliet seeks advice from her Nurse, but she agrees that Juliet should marry Paris because Romeo is as good as dead. Angry and upset, Juliet goes to seek guidance from Friar Laurence.
Act IV, scene 1
Paris is at Friar Laurence’s cell telling him of his forthcoming marriage to Juliet. Juliet enters and lies that she has come for confession. Paris leaves them and Juliet weeps to the Friar and threatens to take her own life. Friar Laurence proposes a solution to Juliet. He offers her a drug which will put her into a deep sleep and so make her appear dead.
On the morning of the wedding they will believe her dead and she will be buried in the family tomb. Friar Laurence will send a letter with a fellow friar to Romeo telling him of this plan. Romeo can return at night to Verona, collect Juliet’s sleeping body, and take her back to Mantua.
Act IV, scene 2
Juliet returns to the house and, playing along, she tells her father that she agrees to marry Paris. Juliet asks her Nurse to come to her bedroom and help her find an outfit for the wedding. Meanwhile, Capulet goes to Paris to tell him the good news.
Act IV, scene 3
Juliet dismisses her Nurse and mother, telling them she needs rest before her big day. When she is alone Juliet contemplates what she is about to do. She fears that the potion might really kill her or, if she does live, she worries what it will be like to wake up in the tomb. She finally drinks the potion and falls into a deep sleep.
Act IV, scene 4
Preparations take place for the wedding ceremony and Capulet asks the Nurse to go and wake his daughter.
Act IV, scene 5
The Nurse tries to wake Juliet but discovers she is dead. The Capulets, Friar Lawrence and Paris all mourn the death or Juliet. Friar Laurence orders that they all assemble at church for the funeral in place of the wedding ceremony.
Act V, scene 1
In Mantua, Romeo is visited by his servant, Balthasar, who tells him that Juliet is dead. Romeo is distraught and vows to travel to Verona to be with her again. On route, Romeo visits an apothecary and buys a deadly poison. He intends to drink this poison once he is at Juliet’s side.
Act V, scene 2
Friar John comes to Friar Laurence and informs him that he was unable to deliver his letter to Romeo in Mantua. Friar Laurence is concerned that Romeo will not know to collect Juliet from the tomb. He therefore plans to get her himself and writes a second letter to Romeo telling him of this new plan.
Act V, scene 3
At the Capulet tomb, Paris comes with his Page in secret to lay flowers on Juliet’s grave. Romeo and Balthasar approach and so Paris and his Page hide. Romeo gives Balthasar a letter and asks him to deliver it to his father the next morning. Balthasar departs but secretly hides because he fears what
Romeo’s intentions are. Paris recognises Romeo as a Montague and the killer of Tybalt. He believes Romeo is the cause of Juliet’s death and so confronts him. They fight and Paris’ Page runs off to find the Watch. Romeo kills Paris and goes to Juliet’s grave where he takes his deadly poison.
Friar Laurence comes to the tomb and meets Balthasar. He notices weapons with blood on them and fears the worst. Juliet awakes in the tomb and sees the Friar. She asks where Romeo is and Friar Laurence tells her he is dead by her side. They hear a noise and Friar Laurence begs Juliet to come with him but she refuses to go without Romeo.
Juliet wants to take her own life to be with Romeo. She sees the poison he has drunk and tries to take some for herself, but it is all gone. Finally she stabs herself and falls next to Romeo. Paris’ Page enters the tomb with the Watch. They send word to the Prince of the city, the Capulets and the Montagues. Friar Laurence explains everything that has happened and the letter, given by Romeo to Balthasar, confirms his story. The Prince scolds the two families for the tragedy their behaviour has caused.
Capulet and Montague shake hands and agree to put their feud to rest.