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Free Study Guide: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare - Free BookNotes

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ROMEO AND JULIET: FREE BOOKNOTES

CONFLICT

Romeo and Juliet is based on external conflict and portrays the long-standing quarrel between the two established families in Verona, the Capulets and the Montagues.

Protagonists

Romeo and Juliet are the protagonists of the play.

Antagonists

The long-standing quarrel between the Capulets and the Montagues, which prevent Romeo and Juliet from being able to profess their love openly.

Climax

The climax occurs when Romeo kills himself by drinking poison, preventing the young couple from experiencing happiness on earth. Some critics point to the death of Tybalt as the climax, for at that point Romeoís life is already in danger from the Capulets, who will seek revenge.

Outcome


Romeo and Juliet ends in tragedy. Because they cannot profess their love openly, fate intervenes and causes Romeo to kill himself, believing Juliet is dead. When Juliet discovers the death of her husband, she kills herself, wanting to be with her lover through eternity. Their deaths, however, bring to a final close the age-old quarrel between the Capulets and Montagues.


SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis)

ACT I

Years ago there lived in the city of Verona in Italy two noble families, the Montagues and Capulets. Unfortunately, there existed much bad blood between them. Their animosity was so pronounced that they could not stand the sight of one another. Even the servants of the house carried on the animosity of their masters. The bloody feuds of the two families led the Prince to order all brawls to cease on pain of death.

Romeo, son of old Montague, is a handsome young man. He fancies he is in love with Rosaline, who disdains his love. As a result, Romeo is depressed. To cure him of his love, his friend Benvolio induces him to attend a masked ball at the Capulets, where he could encounter other beauties and forget Rosaline. At the ball, Romeo is attracted by a girl who he learns is Juliet, daughter of the Capulets. They seal their love with a kiss. Juliet, on learning Romeoís identity from a servant, confesses to herself that her only love has sprung from her only hate. Meanwhile, the fiery Tybalt, Julietís cousin, recognizes Romeo and challenges him. Old Capulet forbids him to insult or harm any guest. Tybalt vows to settle the score with Romeo later.

ACT II

That night Romeo lingers in Capuletís garden, standing in the orchard beneath Julietís balcony. He sees Juliet leaning over the railing, hears her calling out his name, and wishes that he were not a Montague. He reveals his presence, and they resolve, after an ardent love scene, to be married secretly. Next morning, Juliet sends her Nurse to make final arrangements for the wedding to be performed at the cell of Friar Lawrence. The Friar, who is a confessor to both the houses, feels that this union between a Montague and a Capulet will dissolve the enmity between the two houses.

ACT III

Meanwhile, Tybalt has been seeking Romeo to avenge the latterís intrusion at the ball. He encounters Romeo returning from Friar Lawrenceís cell. Romeo, softened by his newfound love and his marriage to Juliet, refuses to be drawn into a quarrel with Tybalt, now his kinsman by marriage. Mercutio grapples with Tybalt and is slain. Aroused to fury by the death of his friend, Romeo fights with Tybalt and kills him and takes shelter in the Friarís cell. The Prince, on hearing of the trouble, banishes Romeo. The Friar advises Romeo to spend the night with Juliet and then flee to Mantua. Meanwhile, Julietís parents, believing her grief to be due to her cousin Tybaltís death, seek to alleviate her distress by planning her immediate marriage to Paris, a kinsman of the Prince.

ACT IV

In despair, Juliet seeks Friar Lawrenceís advice. He gives her a sleeping potion, which for a time will cause her to appear dead. Thus, on the day of her supposed marriage to Paris, she will be carried to the family vault. By the time she awakens, Romeo will be summoned to the vault and take her away to Mantua.

ACT V

The Friarís letter fails to reach Romeo. When he hears of Julietís death through Balthazar, Romeo procures a deadly poison from an apothecary and secretly returns to Verona to say his last farewell to his deceased wife and die by her side. In the Capulet tomb, Romeo encounters Paris, who has come to strew flowers on Julietís grave. Paris challenges Romeo, and in the fight that ensues, Paris is killed. Then at Julietís side, Romeo drinks the poison and dies. When Juliet awakens from her deep sleep, she realizes Romeoís error and kills herself with his dagger. Summoned to the tomb by the aroused watchman, Lord Capulet and Lord Montague ring their hands in anguish. The Prince listens to Friar Lawrenceís story of the unhappy fate of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. He rebukes the Capulets and Montagues for their bloody feud. The Capulets and Montague decide to reconcile as a result of the deaths of their children.


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