Picture Encyclopedia of Shakespeare Plays

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet follows the blossoming love, secret marriage, and eventual deaths of two teenagers whose families hate each other.

Romeo and Juliet Summary

Romeo and Juliet come from two feuding families: the Capulets and the Montagues. Initially, Romeo is actually in love with another girl named Rosaline, and when faced with the opportunity to see her at a Capulet party, Romeo and his friends decide to throw caution to the wind and crash the party in masks. Once there, however, Romeo and Juliet see each other and fall in love instantly, confessing their love to one another in the moonlight after Romeo sneaks into her backyard to see her once more on her balcony.

After arranging a secret marriage through Friar Lawrence and the Nurse, the two are wed and plan to tell their families. However, Mercutio and Tybalt meet in the street and duel; when Romeo tries to intervene, Mercutio is killed. In his grief and rage, Romeo kills Tybalt. He is exiled from Verona by the Prince, which is like a death sentence to the pair of young lovers. Juliet, whose father insists that she marry Count Paris, runs to Friar Lawrence in desperation. He gives her a potion to make her appear dead; when she is placed in her family’s tomb, he will come and get her and bring her to Romeo. Romeo does not receive the news of the plan, however; he receives word of her death. Overcome by grief, he goes to her tomb, drinks poison, and dies right before she awakens. Juliet sees Romeo’s body, grabs his dagger and stabs herself. The two families swear to end their feud because they finally see the destruction their hatred has wrought.

Check out our lesson plans for Romeo and Juliet!

Date Published: 1595

Genre: Tragedy

Major Themes: Love vs. lust; family relationships; foolishness and folly; fate vs. free will

Famous Quote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called…”

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