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.

Outside of the Capulet monument, Paris and a page keep watch for intruders. Romeo and Balthasar approach the tomb, and Romeo bids Balthasar to deliver a letter to Montague. Romeo tells Balthasar that he is just going inside to retrieve Juliet’s ring, and Romeo tells him to leave lest he be killed. Dubious of Romeo’s intentions, Balthasar hides in the churchyard. When Romeo approaches the tomb, Paris recognizes him as the man who murdered Tybalt. He tries to keep Romeo from entering, and they engage in a duel. Romeo kills Paris and the page flees from the scene. Once Romeo realizes who he murdered, he drags Paris inside the vault to bury him with the rest of the deceased Capulets.

Romeo stands next to Juliet and marvels at how beautiful she is, even in death. He kisses her for the last time, drinks his poison, and dies by his wife’s side. Meanwhile, Friar Lawrence arrives and asks Balthasar to enter the tomb with him. Balthasar declines and Friar Lawrence enters alone. He sees that Paris is dead, as is Romeo. To Friar Lawrence’s horror, he can hear people approaching and Juliet awakens. He bids her to leave with him, butshe will not go. He flees before his role in the tragedy can be revealed.

Juliet sees that Romeo is dead and he did not leave any poison for her. She kisses him for the last time and plunges a dagger into her heart. Just as she dies, help arrives in the form of a watch and Paris’ page. They discover the three dead bodies and immediately call for help. The Prince arrives, along with the Capulets and the Montagues, and all suspects are called in. Montague reveals that his wife died over the grief she felt over her son’s banishment. The Prince demands to know what happened, and Friar Lawrence relates the entire story. He asks to receive his rightful blame, but the Prince says that they cannot condemn a holy man. Balthasar and the page give their sides of the story, and the truth is revealed when the Prince reads Romeo’s letter to his father. Capulet and Montague shake hands and end the feud that caused so many innocent people to die.

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