Romeo and Juliet Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

In Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare's tragic plays, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall in love, despite the fact that their families are bitter enemies. Undeterred by this obstacle, the two begin a passionate romance that is interrupted by their feuding relatives. The lovers' final attempt to be together results in the death of them both, leaving their families, and the reader, to contemplate the power of love and question the meaning of violence.

Benvolio and Mercutio walk through the streets of Verona and Benvolio suggests that they should go home for the day. He says that if they stay out they are bound to run into the Capulets and a quarrel will be inevitable. Mercutio does not care if they encounter the Capulets; in fact, he wishes they would. His wishes are soon granted because Tybalt and his men enter the scene. Mercutio spurs Tybalt on with a battle of words, while Benvolio tries to convince Tybalt to settle this matter peacefully.

Before Tybalt can respond, Romeo approaches the group. Tybalt tells Romeo that he is a villain, and it is clear that Tybalt wants to fight. However, Romeo wishes to keep the peace because he is now married to Juliet. He tells Tybalt that he has no quarrel with the Capulets and that he considers their name as important as his own. Mercutio is outraged at Romeo’s attempts at peace, and he draws his sword. Tybalt draws his sword and the two begin to duel. Romeo attempts to stop their fight and Tybalt takes that opportunity to stab Mercutio from under Romeo’s arm.

While Tybalt and his men flee, Mercutio reveals the true nature of his wound. He curses the houses of Montague and Capulet before he dies. Romeo immediately realizes that his love for Juliet softened him to the point where he lost his honor and his friend. He vows vengeance and is consumed with rage by the time Tybalt returns. He tells Tybalt that Mercutio’s soul has not gone far and that one of their souls must join him. Romeo and Tybalt engage in a sword fight, and Tybalt falls down dead. Benvolio convinces Romeo to flee because he will surely be killed for this offense. Romeo shouts “I am fortune’s fool” and hastily exits the scene.

The citizens of Verona, the Prince, the Montagues, and the Capulets enter the scene, demanding to know what happened. Benvolio explains that Romeo had good intentions, but he is responsible for Tybalt’s death. Lady Capulet demands justice, but the Prince angrily interrupts her. He says that two people have already died and there is no need to make more men join them. The Prince banishes Romeo from Verona and proclaims that if Romeo is found within Verona’s walls, he shall be killed.

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