Romeo and Juliet - immortal tragedy of W.S.


I. Introduction

1.1. General characteristics of the work

2.1. General characteristics of the plot

II. The Main Part

1. 2. Critical overview on the play

2. 2. Peculiarities of significant scenes (subjects and themes)

3. 2. “Romeo and Juliet” and their main characters

4. 2. Character relationship of Romeo and Juliet with Mercutio and Nurse

5. 2. The language of the play

6. 2. Peculiarities of stagecraft

7. 2. Contrasting the film and the play

8. 2. Comparing A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet (Lesson Plan)

III. Conclusion

1.3. Studying Romeo and Juliet - criteria for assessment

IV. Bibliography

I. Introduction

1.1 General characteristics of the work

Before making the investigation in our qualification work we should give some notions on its organization structure.

1. Theme of qualification work.

The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: “Romeo and Juliet: the immortal tragedy of William Shakespeare” I have chosen this theme as in my opinion it is this tragedy which is the most famous and of the best educational value among the works of Shakespeare.

2. Actuality of the theme.

Actual character is based on the thesis that "Romeo and Juliet" does not only teach us all the best features of human character but also shows us the worst which we possess. All these, both good and evil, we still have. One more actual character is in linguistic features: more than 500 new English words were introduced by the Avon Bard in this tragedy in their peculiar diverse manner.

3. The tasks and aims of the work.

Before the beginning of writing our qualification work we set the following tasks and aims before ourselves:

1. To investigate the peculiarities of the play and their difference from other works of Shakespeare.

2. To analyze the moral value of the play.

3. To show the ways how the heroes are related to each other by finding out oppositions and correspondences.

4. To analyze some popular scenes in the play.

4. The novelty of the work.

We consider that the novelty of the work is revealed in new materials of the linguists which were published in the Internet. One more novelty is the analysis of modern screen adaptations of the play made by famous directors Franco Zeffirelli and James Cameron.

5. Practical significance of the work.

In our opinion the practical significance of our work is hard to be overvalued. This work reflects modern trends in linguistics and we hope it would serve as a good manual for those who wants to master modern English language by classical language of William Shakespeare.

6. Ways of scientific investigation used within the work.

The main method for compiling our work is the method of comparative analysis, translation method and the method of statistical research.

7. Fields of amplification.

The present work might find a good way of implying in the following spheres:

1. In High Schools and scientific circles of linguistic kind it can be successfully used by teachers and philologists as modern material for writing research works dealing with William Shakespeare

2. It can be used by teachers of schools, lyceums and colleges by teachers of English as a practical manual for teaching english literature.

3. It can be useful for everyone who wants to enlarge his/her knowledge in English.

8. Linguists worked with the theme.

As the base for our qualification work we used the works of a distinguished Russian linguists Dmitry Urnov and modern Russian philologist Ilya Gililov(1).

8. Content of the work.

The present qualification work consists of four parts: introduction, the main part, conclusion and bibliography. It also includes the appendix where some interesting Internet materials, tables, schemes and illustrative thematic materials were gathered. Within the introduction part, which includes two items we gave the brief description of our qualification work (the first item) and gave general notion of the theme and the tragedy. The main part of our qualification work includes several items. There we discussed such problems as subject and themes of the play, analysis some peculiar scenes and relations of the main characters. We also compared the language of tragedy with the corresponding language of Shakespearean comedies having performed such comparison as methodic ellaboration for the lesson plan. In the conclusion to our qualification work we tried to draw some results from the scientific investigations made within the main part of our qualification work. In bibliography part we mentioned more than 20 sources of which were used while compiling the present work. It includes linguistic books and articles dealing with the theme, a number of used dictionaries and encyclopedias and also some internet sources. Appendices to our work include some interesting information on Shakespeare and his works.

2.1 General characteristics of the plot

This play starts with a lovely sonnet, an unusual beginning given that sonnets were meant to be from a lover to his beloved. The sonnet is also a very structured form of prose, lending itself to order. Shakespeare cleverly contrasts this orderly sonnet with the immediate disorder of the first scene. The sonnet degenerates into a bunch of quarreling servants who soon provoke a fight between the houses of Montegue and Capulet.

This scene is wrought with sexual overtones, with the various servants speaking of raping the enemies women. The sexual wordplay will continue throughout the play, becoming extremely bawdy and at times offensive, yet also underlying the love affair between Romeo and Juliet.

The disorder within the play is evidenced by inverted circumstances. Servants start the quarrel, but soon draw the noblemen into the brawl. The young men enter the fight, but soon the old men try to deny their age and fight as well. The fact that this whole scene takes place in broad daylight undermines the security that is supposed to exist during the day. Thus the play deals with conflicting images: servants leading noblemen, old age pretending to be youth, day overtaking night.

The Nurse speaks of Juliet falling as a child when she relates a story to Lady Capulet. This story indirectly pertains to the rise and fall ofthe characters. Since this is a tragedy, the influence of wheel's fortune cannot be overlooked. Indeed, Juliet's role in the play does parallel the wheel of fortune, with her rise to the balcony and her fall to the vault.

The Nurse also foreshadows, "An I might live to see thee married once" (1.3.63). Naturally she does not expect this to be realized in so short a time, but indeed she does live to only see Juliet married once.

Romeo compares Juliet to, "a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear" (1.5.43) when he first sees her. This play on the comparison of dark and light shows up frequently in subsequent scenes. It is a central part of their love that important love scenes take place in the dark, away from the disorder of the day. Thus Romeo loves Juliet at night, but kills Tybalt during the day. It especially shows up in the first act in the way Romeo shuts out the daylight while he is pining for Rosaline.

In the fifth scene the lover's share a sonnet which uses imagery of saints and pilgrims. This relates to the fact that Romeo means Pilgrim in Italian. It is also a sacriligeous sonnet, for Juliet becomes a saint to be kissed and Romeo a holy traveler.

The foreshadowing so common in all of Shakespeare's plays comes from Juliet near the end of the first act. She states,

Juliet: If he be married,

My grave is like to be my wedding bed(2).


This will be related over and over again, from her Nurse and later even from Lady Capulet.

One of the remarkable aspects of the play is the transformation of both Romeo and Juliet after they fall in love. Juliet first comes across as a young, innocent girl who obeys her parents commands. However, by the last scene she is devious and highly focused. Thus, she asks her nurse about three separate men at the party, saving Romeo for last so as not to arouse suspicion. Romeo will undergo a similar transformation in the second act, resulting in Mercutio commenting that he has become sociable.

There is a strange biblical reference which comes from Benvolio in the very first scene, when he attempts to halt the fight. He remarks,

Benvolio: Put up your swords.

You know not what you do"


This is the same phrase used by Jesus when he stops his apostles from fighting the Roman guards during his arrest. It seems to preordain Juliet's demise, namely her three day "death" followed by a resurrection which still ultimately ends in death.

The interaction and conflict of night and day is raised to new levels within the second act. Benvolio in reference to Romeo's passion. states that:

Benvolio: Blind is his love,

and best befits the dark"


And when Romeo finally sees Juliet again, he wonders,

Benvolio: But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon"


Romeo then invokes the darkness as a form of protection from harm,

Romeo: I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes" (2.1.117).

This conflict will not end until the disorder of the day eventually overcomes the passionate nights and destroys the lives of both lovers. It is worthwhile to note the difference between Juliet and Rosaline. Juliet is compared to the sun, and is one of the most giving characters in the play.

Juliet: My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep. The more I give thee

The more I have, for both are infinite"


Rosaline, by contrast, is said to be keeping all her beauty to herself, to die with her. This comparison is made even more evident when Romeo describes Rosaline as a Diana (the goddess of the moon) and says to Juliet,

Romeo: Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon" (2.1.46).

The balcony scene is more than a great lovers' meeting place. It is in fact the same as if Romeo had entered into a private Eden. He has climbed over a large wall to enter the garden, which can be viewed as a sanctuary of virginity. Thus he has invaded the only place which Juliet deems private, seeing as her room is constantly watched by the Nurse or her mother. One of the interesting things which Shakespeare frequently has his characters do is swear to themselves. For instance, when Romeo tries to swear by the moon, Juliet remarks that the moon waxes and wanes, and is too variable. Instead, she says,

Juliet:Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self (2.1.155).

Shakespeare often has characters encouraged to be true to themselves first, as a sign that only then can they be true to others..

Again, note the change in Juliet's behavior. Whereas she used to obey the authority of her nurse, she now disappears twice, and twice defies authority and reappears. This is a sure sign of her emerging independence, and is a crucial factor in understanding her decision to marry Romeo and defy her parents.

There is a strong conflict between the uses of silver and gold throughout the action.

Juliet: How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night" (2.1.210)

…"Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow,

That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops"


Silver is often invoked as a symbol of love and beauty. Gold, on the other hand, is often used ironically and as a sign of greed or desire. Rosaline is thus described as being immune to showers of gold, which almost seem to be a bribe. When Romeo is banished, he comments that banishment is a "golden axe," meaning that death would have been better and that banishment is merely a euphemism for the same thing. And finally, the erection of the statues of gold at the end is even more a sign of the fact that neither Capulet nor Montegue has really learned anything from the loss of their children. One of the central issues is the difference between youth and old age. Friar Laurence acts as Romeo's confidant, and the Nurse advises for Juliet. However, both have advice that seems strangely out of place given the circumstances of the play. For instance, Friar Laurence says to Romeo, "Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast" (2.2.94). He also advises Romeo to "Therefore love moderately" (2.5.9). The insanity of this plea to love "moderately" is made (5.1.6). The use of dreams is meant to foreshadow, but also heightens the dramatic elements of the tragedy by irrevocably sealing the character's fate.

When Romeo goes to the Apothecary to buy his poison, it is as if he were buying the poison from Death himself. Note the description of the Apothecary,

Romeo: Meagre were his looks.

Sharp misery had worn him to the bones


He is clearly an image of Death. Romeo pays him in gold, saying, "There is thy gold - worse poison to men's souls" (5.1.79). This description of gold ties into the conflict between gold and silver. It is gold that underlies the family feuding, even after the death of both Romeo and Juliet when Capulet and Montegue try to outbid each other in the size of their golden statues. Thus for Romeo gold really is a form of poison, since it has helped to kill him.

The analysis of the first act pointed out some of the numberous sexual references throughout the play. In the final death scene there is even the full force of the erotic element. Romeo drinks from a chalise, a cup with a shape that is often compared to the torso of a woman. Meanwhile Juliet says,

Juliet: O happy dagger,

This is thy sheath!

There rust, and let me die" (5.3.169).

The dagger is of course Romeo's, and the sexual overtones are starkly clear. In addition to this, there is ambiguity about the use of the word "die." To die actually had two meanings when Shakespeare was writing, meaning either real death or sexual intercourse. Thus, even at the very end of the play, we cannot be sure from the words alone whether Juliet is committing suicide or engaging in sexual relations with Romeo.

A final comment concerns Friar Laurence. His actions at the end of the play are remarkable for a holy man because he attempts to play God. Friar Laurence gets Juliet to drink a potion which puts her to sleep, faking death, and then he tries to resurrect her. In his attempt to play God, Friar Laurence is condemned to fail by the simple arrogance of his act. This tie-in with the death of Christ would not have escaped the Christian audiences watching the play.

II. The Main Part

1.2 Critical overview on the play

The central pair of lovers are the only characters in "Romeo and Juliet" featured as changing, against all the others who are static. The critical opinion on Romeo and Juliet is practically unanimous. The inseparability of their names reflects the very nature of love: people seeking "their other halves", completeness in a union with the other. So all the critics agree that Romeo and Juliet are the ideal pair of lovers. The tradition of psychological analysis of Shakespeare's characters was founded by S.T.Coleridge in his Shakespearean lectures (1811-1812)(3). In the seventh lecture he described Shakespeare's unparalleled understanding of love: "Shakespeare has described this passion in various states and stages, beginning, as was most natural, with love in the young. Does he open his play making Romeo and Juliet in love at first sight — at the first glimpse, as any ordinary thinker would do? Certainly not: he knew what he was about: he was to develop the whole passion, and he commences with the first elements - that sense of imperfection, that yearning to combine itself with something lovely. Romeo became enamoured of the idea he had formed in his own mind, and then, as it were, christened the first real being of the contrary sex as endowed with the perfections he desired. He appears to be in love with Rosaline; but, in truth, he is in love only with his own idea. He felt that necessity of being beloved which no noble mind can be without. Then our poet, our poet who so well knew human nature, introduces Romeo to Juliet, and makes it not only a violent, but a permanent love. Romeo is first represented in a state most susceptible of love, and then, seeing Juliet, he took and retained the infection." The typical Continental point of view is represented by the words of the most influential Russian critic of the XlXth century V.G.Belinsky. In 15th installment of his "Alexander Pushkin's Works" (1844) he wrote: "The idea of love makes the pathos of "Romeo and Juliet", and the lovers' enthusiastic dialogues are like ocean waves shining in the stars' bright light. Their lyrical monologues are full not only of mutual admiration, but of the proud assertion of Love's divine nature(4)". Dmitrii Urnov considers "Romeo and Juliet”'s place among Shakespeare's early plays, because it ludicrous by the rapid events which follow. In fact, by the end of the play we even see Friar Laurence rejecting his own advice and stumbling to reach Juliet's grave before Romeo can find her. "How oft tonight have my old feet stumbled at graves?" (5.3.123).

Mercutio leads the action in this most dramatic of the five acts. When wounded, he cries out "A plague o' both your houses" (3.1.101), saying it three times to ensure that it becomes a curse. Indeed, it is the plague which causes the final death of both Romeo and Juliet. Friar John says that he was unable to deliver the letter to Romeo because, "the searchers of the town, / Suspecting that we both were in a house / Where the infectious pestilence did reign, / Sealed up the doors, and would not let us forth" (5.2.8-11).

One of the most beautiful soliloquys is that of Juliet when she beckons for nightfall, again representing the contrast to the disorder of the day's events.

Juliet: Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night,

Give me my Romeo, and when he shall die

Take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine

That all the world will be in love with night

And pay no worship to the garish sun"


The Nurse's arrival in this act with information about Romeo and Tybalt reinforces the fact that this is now a tragedy, not a comedy. This can be seen in the contrast of this scene with the first scene where the Nurse withholds information from Juliet. In the first scene, the Nurse is playfully devious in telling Juliet about where Romeo wants to meet her for their marriage. Now however, the same playfulness is no longer comic, rather it is infuriating. In this sense Shakespeare turns the Nurse from a comic character into a tragic character, one who cannot realize the importance of what she is saying.

Juliet's dedication to Romeo emerges very strongly at this point. At first she derides Romeo for killing Tybalt, but she soon has a change of heart and says, "Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?" (3.2.97). She then states that she would sacrifice ten thousand Tybalts to be with Romeo, and later includes her parents in the list of people she would rather lose than Romeo. This dedication to a husband or lover is something which emerges frequently in Shakespeare, and is a point he tries to emphasize.

Romeo's misery at being banished is clearly shown in his preference for death.

Romeo: Then 'banished'

Is death mistermed. Calling death 'banished'

Thou cutt'st my head off with a golden axe"


Friar Laurence tries to show him that by being alive he at least still has a chance to see Juliet again. Even the Nurse, entering where Romeo is hiding, says, "Stand up, stand up, stand an you be a man" (3.3.88).

The analysis of the first act introduced the image of the wheel of fortune. This was applied to Juliet, who throughout the previous acts rose from a humble daughter to become a strong woman standing on a balcony, and completely in charge of her situation. However, at this juncture the Nurse informs Romeo that Juliet "down falls again" (3.3.101) as a result of his banishment and her loss of Tybalt. Later, Juliet takes this image even further, saying, "Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low / As one dead in the bottom of a tomb" (3.5.55-6).

This of course also is integrated with the foreshadowing so common in Shakespeare's plays. Lady Capulet comments about Juliet's refusal to marry Paris that, "I would the fool were married to her grave" (3.5.140). This phrase will of course come true quite soon, when Juliet dies while still married to Romeo.

The conflict between the older generation and the younger comes to head in the final scene of act three. The Nurse advocates that Juliet forget about Romeo and instead focus on Paris, the virtues of whom she proceeds to extol. Juliet, poisoningly sweet in her sarcasm, sends the Nurse away from her for the first time, remarking, "Ancient damnation!" (3.5.235), both a reference to the Nurse's age and to the problems she must deal with. This leaves Juliet completely alone to face the hostile world Much in the way that the characaters in Richard VI dream about their fates in the final act of that play, Romeo too has a dream which tells of his fate. "I dreamt my lady came and found me dead" does not express "the basically tragic view of life, as the later plays would; it expresses the tragedy of individual destiny under tragic circumstances".

Many tragic love stories have been compared to "Romeo and Juliet"; the most successful modern versions are not in books, but in film. The most popular are: The classical American musical movie "West Side Story" (1961) based on the play by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The action takes place against the background of New York gangs war and is strictly parallel to Shakespeare's plot. The Jets, white boys' gang, rival the Sharks, Puerto-Rican gang, just as the Montague rival the Capulet; prince Escalus and his guards find counterpart in police officers Krupke and Schrank; Friar Laurence - in Doc; etc. The Polack Tony and the Puerto-Rican Maria follow in the steps of Romeo and Juliet, the major alteration of the plot occuring in the final scene. Tony is shot by Maria's suitor Chino, and the curtain falls with Maria and Chino alive. "West Side Story" reads like a social document and the Hollywood musical was celebrated for its haunting music and dynamic dance (choreographed by Jerome Robbins). In contrast, "Romeo and Juliet" (1968), directed by Franco Zeffirelli, offers a very careful, historically accurate scene: Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey starring as Romeo and Juliet were respectively 17 and 14, which are exactly the characters' ages in Shakespeare. "Romeo+Juliet" (1996), directed by Baz Luhrmann, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, is the most unconventional adaptation of star-crossed lovers' story. It is set in futuristic urban backdrop of Verona Beach, and the dazzling contrast between classical lines and visual image of modern street violence makes this controversial movie worth special attention. The most recent spellbinding version is "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), awarded by the Academy as the best film of the year (directed by John Madden), starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow. The screenplay was written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. The film combines the story of

Shakespeare writing and directing "Romeo and Juliet" in 1593, and "Romeo and Juliet" as it might be performed by its first cast, thus the show of Elizabethan England incorporates the show of "Romeo and Juliet". It uses the principle of "show within the show". The movie makes a beautiful example of modern cinema, and the Academy Award must be regarded as the confirmation of Shakespeare's triumph through ages.

In Verona, Sampson and Gregory (Capulet servants) complain that they will not put up with insults from the Montague family. Abram and Balthasar (Montague servants) appear and the four start quarreling. Benvolio (Lord Montague's nephew) appears and tries to break up the quarrel, but Tybalt (Lady Capulet's nephew) appears and picks a fight with Benvolio. At length, officers try to break up the fight, even while Lord Capulet and Lord Montague begin to fight one another. The Prince of Verona (Escalus) appears and stops the fighting, proclaiming sentences of death to any that renew the fighting. At Montague's house, he, his wife, and Benvolio discuss how melancholy Romeo (Montague's only son) has been lately. Benvolio vows to find out why. Speaking with Romeo, Benvolio finds Romeo is in love with a woman who has sworn to stay chaste (Rosaline). Benvolio suggests pursuing other women, but Romeo refuses. Separately, Paris (a kinsman of the Prince of Verona) talks to Lord Capulet about wooing his daughter Juliet for marriage. Capulet responds that she is too young (nearly 14 years old) and must wait two years to marry, and then only to the man whom she chooses. Still, Capulet invites Paris to a party in the evening. Capulet's servant is sent to invite guests, but he can't read the list so he entreats Romeo to do so. Upon hearing of the party, Benvolio convinces Romeo to attend and compare his unattainable love Rosaline to more beautiful women to get his mind off Rosaline. At Capulet's house, Lady Capulet speaks to Juliet about her feelings for marrying Paris while Juliet's Nurse listens on, telling stories of Juliet's childhood. Juliet, although hesitant, promises to be courteous. Masked, Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio head to the Capulet patty. Romeo is still depressed, saying he dreamt a fearful dream of an untimely death that will result because of the evening's events, but Benvolio just makes fun of him. At Capulet's house, the Montagues attend the party (in masks), Romeo spies Juliet, and he falls in love with her. Tybalt sees Romeo and takes up arms, but Lord Capulet attempts to calm him, though Tybalt vows to revenge Romeo's intrusion the next day. Juliet, too, falls for Romeo, but falls into despair when her Nurse informs her Romeo is a Montague, as does Romeo when he learns Juliet is a Capulet.

While leaving the party, Romeo hides in the orchard while Mercutio and Benvolio call for him to come out of hiding and go home with them; yet he will not. After they leave, Romeo appears and speaks to Juliet under her window, saying "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" By and by they swear their love to one another. Juliet tells Romeo she'll send a messenger to him the next day to learn the details of their wedding. Having stayed up all night, Romeo visits Friar Lawrence's cell and tells him of this new love for Juliet. Although Lawrence is critical at first, Romeo eventually convinces him to marry them. In the street, Benvolio tells Mercutio that Romeo did not come home that night, and that Tybalt has sent the Montagues a letter challenging Romeo to a duel. Romeo appears and they tease him for hiding from them. Juliet's nurse and servant Peter appear and Romeo tells her to tell Juliet to go to the Friar's cell that afternoon to be married. The Nurse returns to Juliet and, though she skirts around the message, she finally tells Juliet the wonderful news. Soon, at the Friar's cell, he marries Romeo and Juliet, and Romeo plans to visit Juliet's bedroom that evening.

At the street, Benvolio and Mercutio encounter Tybalt and Petruchio, leading to Tybalt and Mercutio fighting since Tybalt tries to pick a fight with Romeo, but he refuses. Romeo tries to break up the fight, but Tybalt slays Mercutio under Romeo's arm, then Tybalt flees. As Mercutio dies, he declares "A plague on both your houses," since he is only a friend of Romeo's and not his kinsmen. When Benvolio informs Romeo that Mercutio is dead, Romeo seeks out, fights, and slays Tybalt in revenge. Benvolio convinces Romeo to flee. The prince appears and Benvolio explains all to him, at which the Prince exiles Romeo for slaying Tybalt. At the Capulet's orchard, Juliet waits for Romeo when her Nurse appears and informs her of Mercutio and Tybalt's deaths, and Romeo's banishment. Juliet falls into despair, realizing she would rather Tybalt dead than Romeo, but also that a banished Romeo is virtually dead. At the Friar's cell, he informs Romeo of the Prince's edict of banishment, putting him into despair. Romeo states he would rather be dead than banished. The Nurse arrives and tells Romeo that Juliet is sad too, but forgives Romeo. Still, Romeo pulls a dagger and tries to kill himself, but the Friar stops him and tells him to stay the night with Juliet, then flee to Mantua. At Capulet's house, he and Paris set the wedding date for Paris and Juliet to be three days hence. In Juliet's bedroom, Romeo says a tearful goodbye to Juliet. After he leaves, Lady Capulet appears and, while discussing Tybalt's death, states she will send a henchman to mantua to kill Romeo (though she never does). She then informs Juliet of her impending marriage to Paris. Juliet tells her parents she will not marry, but Lord Capulet commands it will be so. The Nurse, too, tells Juliet she should marry Paris. In private, Juliet decides to no longer trust the nurse and vows to kill herself if the Friar cannot find a way to save her from marrying Paris.

At Friar Lawrence's cell, Paris informs the Friar of his upcoming wedding to Juliet. When Juliet arrives to see the Friar, Paris politely leaves. The Friar, hearing Juliet threaten suicide, tells her of a "distilled liquor" she can take to fake death. He explains the drug will keep her asleep and seemingly dead for 42 hours, during which she can be placed in the Capulet tomb. Then, when she wakes, Romeo can be there waiting for her to take her to Mantua. Friar Lawrence send Friar John to Mantua with an explanatory letter for Romeo. Juliet returns to her father and apologizes for refusing to marry, causing her dad to move the wedding up to the next morning (two days early). In her bedroom, Juliet sends her mother and nurse away, then, after much worrying over the future, she drinks the vial of medicine and sleeps. Later in the early morning, all feverishly prepare for the wedding and Capulet sends the Nurse to wake Juliet. The Nurse wails upon finding Juliet "dead", summoning the others to find her and mourn. The Friar instructs all to prepare Juliet for her funeral.

In Mantua, Romeo's servant Balthasar arrives and tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Romeo vows to see Juliet in her tomb and poison himself there, buying the poison from a poor Apothecary who illegally sells it to Romeo only because he (the Apothecary) needs the money. At Lawrence's cell, Friar John reports he could not deliver the letter to Romeo since he (John) got stuck in a quarantined house while searching for Romeo. Friar Lawrence heads to the cemetery with a crowbar. At the tomb, Paris and his page arrive and Paris mourns Juliet's death. Paris hides when he hears Romeo and Balthasar approach. Romeo orders Balthasar to leave him alone, no matter what he hears. When Romeo opens the tomb, Paris steps out and tries to stop him by provoking him to fight. Romeo entreats Paris to simply walk away and not fight, but Paris forces Romeo to fight him, resulting in Romeo slaying Paris. In sorrow, Romeo lays Paris in the tomb, while Paris' page secretly leaves to call the watch. Romeo finds Juliet and mourns her death, then drinks his poison and dies. Outside the tomb, Friar Lawrence arrives and meets Balthasar who tells the Friar that Romeo has been in the tomb for one half hour. Lawrence enters the tomb and finds Romeo and Paris dead. Juliet then awakes and spots Romeo. The Friar, upon hearing noises outside flees, leaving Juliet with Romeo. Juliet tries to kill herself with Romeo's poison, but can find none, either in the vial or on Romeo's lips. In desperation, she stabs herself with Romeo's dagger. The watch arrives, having found Balthasar and the Friar. The Prince and Lord and Lady Capulet arrive and learn Paris, Romeo, and Juliet are dead (amazingly to them, Juliet seems to have been alive, and then newly dead again). Lord Montague arrives and reports that his wife has died from grief over Romeo's exile, then learns himself of Romeo's death. Capulet and Montague make peace and swear to never fight again. They vow to build solid gold statues of Romeo and Juliet and place them side by side so all can remember their plight.

Between tragedy and comedy the transition is often but slightly marked. Thus Romeo and Juliet differs but little from most of Shakespeare's comedies in its ingredients and treatment-it is simply the direction of the whole that gives it the stamp of tragedy. Romeo and Juliet is a picture of love and its pitiable fate in a world whose atmosphere is too sharp for this, the tenderest blossom of human life. Two beings created for each other feel mutual love at the first glance; every consideration disappears before the irresistable impulse to live for one another; under circumstances hostile in the highest degree to their union, they unite themselves by a secret marriage, relying simply on the protection of an invisible power. Untoward incidents following in rapid succession, their heroic constancy is within a few days put to the proof, till, forcibly separated from each other, by a voluntary death they are united in the grave to meet again in another world.

All this is to be found in the beautiful story which was told long before Shakespeare's day, and which, however simply told, will always excite a tender sympathy; but it was reserved for Shakespeare to join in one ideal picture purity of heart with warmth of imagination; sweetness and dignity of manners with passionate intensity of feeling. Under his handling, it has become a glorious song of praise on that inexpressible feeling which ennobles the soul and gives to it its highest sublimity, and which elevates even the senses into soul, while at the same time it is a melancholy elegy on its inherent and imparted frailty; it is at once the apotheosis and the obsequies of love. It appears here a heavenly spark that, as it descends to earth, is converted into the lightning flash, which almost in the same moment sets on fire and consumes the mortal being on whom it lights. All that is most intoxicating in the odor of a southern spring, all that is languishing in the song of the nightingale or voluptuous in the first opening of the rose, all alike breathe forth from this poem. But even more rapidly than the earliest blossoms of youth and beauty decay does it, from the first timidly bold declaration and modest return of love, hurry on to unlimited passion, to an irrevocable union; and then hasten, amid alternating storms of rapture and despair, to the fate of the two lovers, who yet appear enviable in their hard lot, for their love survives them, and by their death they have obtained an endless triumph over every separating power. The sweetest and the bitterest love and hatred, festive rejoicings and dark forebodings, tender embraces and sepulchral horrors, the fullness of life and self-annihilation, are here all brought close to each other; and yet these contrasts are so blended into a unity of impression, that the echo which the whole leaves in the mind resembles a single but endless sigh. The first scenes of nearly every play of Shakespeare are remarkable for the skill with which they prepare the mind for all the after scenes. We do not see the succession of scenes; the catastrophe unrevealed; but we look into a dim and distant prospect, and by what is in the foreground we can form a general notion of the landscape that will be presented to us, as the clouds roll away and the sun lights up its wild mountains or its fertile valleys. When Sampson and Gregory enter "armed with swords and bucklers"-when we hear "a dog of the house of Montague moves me"~ we know that these are not common servants, and live not in common times; with them the excitement of party spirit does not rise into strong passion—it presents its ludicrous side. They quarrel like angry curs, who snarl, yet are afraid to bite. But the "furious Tybalt" in a moment shows us that these hasty quarrels cannot have peaceful endings. The strong arm of authority suspends the affray, but the spirit of enmity is not put down. The movement of this scene is as rapid as the quarrel itself. Tt produces the effect upon the mind of something which startles; but the calm immediately succeeds. Benvolio's speech-­Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun

Peer'd forth the golden window of the east...

-at once shows us that we are entering the region of high poetry. Coleridge remarks that the succeeding speech of old Montague exhibits the poetical aspect of the play even more strikingly:

Many a morning hath he here been seen,

With tears augmenting the fresh morning's dew.

It is remarkable that the speech thus commencing, which contains twenty lines as highly wrought as anything in Shakespeare, is not in the first copy of this play. The experience of the artist taught him where to lay on the poetical coloring brighter and brighter. How beautifully these lines prepare us for the appearance of Romeo—the now musing, abstracted Romeo—the Romeo, who, like the lover of Chaucer, Solitary was ever alone,

And walking all the night, making moan.

The love of Romeo was unrequited love. It was a sentiment rather than a passion—a love that solaced itself in antithetical conceits upon its own misery, and would draw consolation from melancholy associations. It was love without the "true Promethean fire," but it was a fir preparation for what was to follow. The dialogue between Capulet and Paris prepares us for Juliet-the "hopeful lady of his earth," who Hath not seen the change of fourteen years.

The old man does not think her "ripe to be a bride;" but we are immediately reminded of the precocity of nature under a southern sun, by another magical touch of poetry, which tells us of youth and freshness-of summer in "Aprir'-of "fresh female buds" breathing the fragrance of opening flowers. Juliet at length comes. We see the submissive and gentle girl; but the garrulity of the nurse carries us back even to the Prettiest babe that e'er I nursed.

Neither Juliet nor Romeo had rightly read their own hearts. He was sighing for a shadow-she fancied that she could subject her feelings to the will of others: But no more deep will I endart mine eye, Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

The preparation for their first interview goes forward; Benvolio has persuaded Romeo to go to the Capulet's feast. There is a slight pause in the action, but how gracefully it is filled up! Mercutio comes upon the scene, and is placed by the side of Romeo, to contrast with him, but also to harmonize. The poetry of Mercutio is that of fancy; the poetry of Romeo is that of imagination. The wit of Mercutio is the overflow of animal spirits, occasionally polluted, like a spring pure from the well-head, by the soil over which it passes; the wit of Romeo is somewhat artificial, and scarcely self-sustained--it is the unaccustomed play of the intellect when the passions "have come to the clenching point," but it is under control, it has no exuberance which, like the wit of Mercutio, admits the coloring of the sensual and the sarcastic. The very first words of Romeo show the change that has come o'er him. He went into that "hall of Capulet's house" fearing Some consequence yet hanging in the stars.

He had "a soul of lead"--he would be "a candle-holder and look on." But he has seen Juliet; and with what gorgeous images has that sight filled his imagination!

Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night As a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear.

We have now the poetry of passion bursting upon us in its purple light. The lovers show the intensity of their abandonment to an overmastering will. "They see only themselves in the universe." That is the true moral of their fate. But, even under the direst calamity, they catch at the one joy which is left—the short meeting before the parting. And what a parting it is! Here again comes the triumph of the beautiful over the merely tragic. They are once more calm. There love again breathes of all the sweet sights and sounds in a world of beauty. They are parting, but the almost happy Juliet says:

It is not yet near day-Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

Romeo, who sees the danger of delay, is not deceived: It was the lark, the herald of the morn.

Then what a burst of poetry follows!--

Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day

Stands tiptoe on the misty mountains' tops.

Note the exquisite display of womanly tenderness in Juliet, which hurries from the forgetfulness of joy in her husband's presence to apprehension for his safety. After this scene we are almost content to think, as Romeo fancied he thought:

Come what sorrow can,

It cannot countervail the exchange of joy.

The sorrow does come upon poor Juliet with redoubled force. The absolute father, the unyielding mother, the treacherous nurse—all hurrying her into a loathed marriage—might drive one less resolved to the verge of madness. But from this moment her love has become heroism. She sees

No pity sitting in the clouds-- She rejects her nurse—she resolves to deceive her parents. This scene brings out her character in its strongest and most beautiful relief.

The final catastrophe comes. They have paid the penalty of the fierce hatreds that were engendered around them, and of their own precipitancy; but their misfortunes and their loves have healed the enmities of which they were the victims.

Montagues and Capulets

At the very beginning of Romeo and Juliet, the Chorus chants that the blood feud between the Montagues and Capulets has been going on for a long time.

The audience never learns the source of the quarrel, but certainly the "ancient grudge" has recently grown stronger. According to the Prince, brawls that "have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets" (1.1.91).

Audiences may wonder why the Montagues and Capulets can't move forward and forgive. Blood is spilling in the streets and their children wind up in an awful situation. What's the matter with these people? Are they terribly uncaring(5)?

The audience learns that these are respectable people — "two households, both alike in dignity," (Prologue. 1) from the outset of the play. The Montagues and the Capulets are venerable families of Verona, and as such they command respect. Even Prince Escalus shows them respect though their longstanding enmity angers him. The lenient sentence of Romeo's banishment (rather than the punishment of death) demonstrates the Prince's willingness to cut the families a break. He would not likely extend the same courtesy to a family of lesser stature

But the respect commanded by a noble family does not give very much insight into the nature of these parents and their relationships with their children. Shakespeare leaves those clues in the text.

In only two scenes in the entire play are all four parents are present. The first is the street fight involving Benvolio, a Montague, and Tybalt, a Capulet. The elder generation arrives when the battle is already underway. Old Montague and Capulet immediately want to enter the fray, particularly when each sees the other ready to fight.

This brief exchange among the four parents provides a lot of insight into the dynamic of the relationships. First, Capulet demands his weapon. Why does he want it? Not because he has any idea what started the fight or because he wishes to aid his nephew, Tybalt, but because Old Montague is drawing his own weapon. Capulet is angered because Montague is not afraid of him. Capulet's response is awfully immature.

And Montague appears no better. He immediately renews the old, unexplained quarrel. He calls Capulet a "villain," though Capulet has not yet done anything villainous. Montague also insists that he not be held back from having his way with Capulet.

Imagine the foolishness of this scene. Two old men in nightgowns are brandishing weapons at one another and name-calling while blood is being spilled around them. Is this noble? Only their wives demonstrate restraint and prevent them from fighting. Look how each woman addresses her husband. Though both women are saying the same thing --"Calm down. You can't fight." — each uses a very different tone.

Lady Capulet is bitter and sarcastic. One word, in particular, underscores her cynicism. Lady Capulet tells her husband, "Who are you kidding. You are way too old to fight. You need a crutch, not a sword."

Lady Montague, too, seems to have a pretty tight reign on her hubby. She says, "Though shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe" (1.1.80). She might as well draw a line in the dirt with her foot and say "Don't you dare cross this line looking for a fight, buddy. If you do, you deal with me." Though the women don't speak to one another or get involved in the fighting, it seems clear that each is tired of the situation.

Lady Montague, too, seems to have a pretty tight reign on her hubby. She says, "Though shall not stir one foot to seek a foe" (1.1.80). She might as well draw a line in the dirt with her foot and say "Don't you dare cross this line looking for a fight, buddy. If you do, you deal with me."

Though the women don't speak to one another or get involved in the fighting, it seems clear that each is tired of the situation.

These are the last words Lady Montague speaks in the play. But, some important aspects of her character have been established. She didn't want her husband involved in a brawl, and she is worried about her son. She doesn't seem like such a bad wife and mother.

Taking his wife's cue, Montague inquires of Benvolio the reason for Romeo's distant and aloof melancholy.

These parents are worried about their son. They want to know what is up with him, and they would like to be able to help.

2. 2. Peculiar features of significant scenes (subject and themes)

In Act I Scene 5 Romeo and Juliet meet. Note that in spite of its title, this play has very few scenes in which both lovers are present. The others are the balcony scene (2.2), the short wedding scene (2.6) and the opening of Act 3, Scene 5. The lovers are both on stage in Act 5, Scene 3 - but Romeo kills himself before Juliet wakes.

Shakespeare prepares for this scene by showing Romeo's infatuation with Rosaline (a very strong “crush” on her). On the guest list for the party, Rosaline is described as Capulet's “fair niece”, but she never appears in the play. Benvolio (in 1.2) has promised to show Romeo a more attractive woman, but doesn't really have anyone special in mind, as far as we know. Similarly, we know that Juliet is there because Capulet wants to give Paris a chance to meet her - this is why he throws the party(6).

Capulet's speech to Paris (in 1.2) suggests that Juliet has not been out of her house much (only, perhaps, to go to worship and confession at Friar Lawrence's cell). Maybe this is why Paris (a family friend) has noticed her, but Romeo has no idea who she is. Immediately before this scene, Romeo has spoken of his fear that some terrible “consequence (result) yet hanging in the stars” shall begin at “this night's revels” (Capulet's party). Does this fear come true? Tybalt's behaviour has also been prepared for by the brawl in the play's first scene.

In the scene, several things happen. Servants do their job, Capulet chats to a friend, Tybalt sees Romeo, wants to fight him and is told off by Capulet for his behaviour. Romeo and Juliet meet, and each finds out who the other is. But the most important things in the scene are:

1 the way Romeo falls in love with Juliet at first sight

2 and the way this contrasts with Tybalt's anger and hatred.

Romeo never knows that it is his presence at the party that causes Tybalt later to challenge him to a duel. These things lead to the events of Act 3, Scene 1, where Mercutio and Tybalt die.

The structure of the scene

In the opening the servants speak informally (in prose, not verse), about all the work they have to do. This prepares for the grand entrance when the Capulets come on stage, in procession, wearing their expensive clothing and speaking verse. Romeo's comments about Juliet alternate with Tybalt's attempt to attack Romeo - who does not know that he's been noticed. At the end of the scene, the Nurse tells each lover who the other one is.

Within this general outline, Shakespeare shows the most important episode is that where Romeo and Juliet speak for the first time. This has the form of a sonnet (a rhyming fourteen line poem) - which many in the 16th Century audience would notice, as they heard the pattern of rhymes.

In Act 2 Scene 1 this scene occurs immediately after Romeo has married Juliet - which explains his friendliness to Tybalt. The general contrast of love and hate in the play is explicit (very clear) in this scene.

Another theme of the play that is strong in this scene is the idea that we are not in control of our lives (the Friar will say to Juliet later: “A greater power than we can contradict/Hath thwarted our intents”). Here when Romeo has killed Tybalt he cries out: “I am fortune's fool”. What does this mean?

Yet another theme that appears is that of the feud and how innocent lives are harmed by it. Here it is Mercutio who curses the feuding families: “A plague on both your houses!” What does this mean? Later Paris, too, will die because of the feud, as well as the young lovers who belong to the feuding families but have wanted not to be part of the quarrel.

Act III Scene 5 opens with Juliet saying goodbye to Romeo, who must leave for Mantua. In the previous scene the audience has heard Capulet offer Juliet's hand in marriage to Paris. We understand why he does this, but we know many things he does not know.

We can foresee that Juliet will not be happy about her father's decision. Once Romeo has gone, Lady Capulet tells Juliet she must marry. Juliet refuses, and her father angrily insists that she marry Paris or be turned out of the house. Alone with the Nurse, Juliet asks for advice. She replies that Juliet should marry Paris. Juliet is astounded and pretends to agree to this advice, while deciding that the only person who can help her is Friar Lawrence. Now she feels most alone in the world.

Modern audiences may wonder what the problem is - why does Juliet not pretend to go through with the marriage? But Shakespeare's audience knows that it is a mortal sin to attempt marriage when you are already married. If you do this, you will certainly be damned (go to Hell). And there is no way that the Friar would conduct such a marriage ceremony, which is one of the sacraments (holy ceremonies or mysteries) of the church. The Nurse must know this, too, but it seems that she does not really believe in, or care about, heaven and hell.

The key to this scene is what various people know:

Capulet thinks he knows what has upset his daughter (Tybalt's death) but he is quite wrong.

Lady Capulet knows as little as her husband.

Juliet knows about her marriage to Romeo, but cannot explain to her parents.

Juliet doesn't know, until they tell her, about their plans for her to marry Paris.

The Nurse, at this point, knows about Juliet's secrets.

Only the audience has the full picture. In the scene Juliet repeatedly speaks ambiguously - with one meaning for the person to whom she speaks, and another for herself and the audience. For example, the audience knows that Juliet knows that the Nurse knows that Juliet's parents don't know about her marriage to Romeo! (Think about it.) Later we know that the Nurse does not know that Juliet is deceiving her. Throughout the whole scene, Shakespeare makes dramatic use of what people do or don't know.

The structure of the scene is a very simple sequence - the one common element being Juliet, who is present throughout. After the episode where she bids farewell to Romeo (not set for the Key Stage test), Juliet learns from her mother of the intended marriage to Paris. When Juliet defies her mother, Capulet argues with her. He even shouts at the Nurse, when she tries to defend Juliet. Finally, Juliet asks the Nurse for help. When the Nurse lets her down, Juliet is left alone on stage to explain (to the audience) what she is going to do.

3.2 “Romeo and Juliet” and their main characters


Romeo may appear at first glance a changeable, inconsistent character. Perhaps the playwright's own idea of Romeo is not at first clear, or it may be that his youth the strange and disconcerting circumstances in which he finds himself explain the apparent changes in Romeo's attitudes and behaviour.

Though the action of the play occurs over a period of a few days only, Shakespeare gives the impression of the passage of a longer time, and in the course of the drama Romeo appears to be aged by his experiences. So while Tybalt, in Act 3; scene 1, addresses Romeo as "boy", in the play's final scene Romeo calls Paris "good gentle youth".

The Romeo of the early part of the play is definitely boyish but his serious, pensive and fatalistic traits mark him off from his less reflective companions - especially from Mercutio, who, with his blunt speech, his dislike of pretence, his cynical philosophy and his reduction of all love to brutal lust, serves as an excellent foil for Romeo.

Romeo's unrequited love for Rosaline may be evidence of his pessimistic and perverse character. It seems that Rosaline is attractive not for any easily identified perfections, so much as for the fact of her being out of reach (as a Capulet, and sworn to chastity), almost as if Romeo wishes to be rejected, so that he can make a show of his despair. It is a pose that invites criticism or even outright ridicule from Romeo's fellows, and Romeo appears to relish the argument, which is provoked by these comments, and by his defence of his infatuation.

Though Romeo exaggerates his gravity and dejection into a pose, yet these bespeak a real fatalism of outlook, so that he views the future with apprehension, as when his mind "misgives...some consequence, yet hanging in the stars". While Romeo's frequent references to fate are often seen as evidence of the playwright's drawing the audience's-attention to the workings of fortune, it may not be so much fate (in the sense of some adverse force, external to the lovers) which is at work, as Romeo's belief in it. There are cruel accidents of circumstance that befall the lovers, but in each case these are compounded by their own deliberate actions. There is certainly a self-destructive impulse at work in their passion for one another.

By frequent reference to Romeo's youth (as in Capulet's words to Tybalt, at the feast) and by Romeo's own account of Rosaline's sworn chastity Shakespeare suggests that Romeo, like Juliet, is a novice in matters of the heart, and so, like her, pure. This is supported by the fact that - (as only an inexperienced lover would) he seeks advice from the celibate priest, Friar Laurence, and confirmed by the nature of his first conversation with Juliet. This is in the form of a sonnet - a strikingly formal device in such a situation - in which the etiquette of courtship is metaphorically represented as an act of religious devotion; the exchange of words here is almost sacramental in quality.

Romeo is ruled by passion rather than reason: thus, when he discovers Juliet's identity, he at once recognises the obstacle which confronts his love, but is not at all deterred from it by considerations of prudence, practicality or danger. "My life is my foe's debt," he admits, without further ado.

The exuberance of youth - at its most conspicuous in unrestrained, spontaneous, innocent passion - characterises Romeo's conversations with Juliet after he spies her on her balcony. The lovers say little of direct importance, but the rapturous exchange of passionate sentiment shows us how wrong Mercutio's bawdy jests are in their dismissal of love as a mere animal appetite demanding carnal gratification. (Shakespeare hints that this is an error, by letting us see another error in Mercutio's prior assumption that Romeo is not to be found because he is still pining for Rosaline.) Though Romeo's behaviour immediately after meeting Juliet may appear more boyish (because less melancholy) than his earlier gravity, the real difference is between youthful dejection (producing an exaggerated affectation of adult disillusionment) and youthful rapture.

With the compliance of the Nurse and Friar Laurence the lovers are swiftly married. In a way it is this that precipitates the unlucky series of events, which leads to Romeo's banishment. Tybalt's slaying of Mercutio and Romeo's realisation of his part in his friend's death call forth a new quality in Romeo, which also springs from his awareness of his adult (because married) status. In his avenging of Mercutio's death, Romeo displays a grim determination and manliness not hitherto seen, a lack of thought or fear for the consequences of his action - he follows the prompting of passion rather than of reason, just as in his clandestine marriage to Juliet he has rejected politic calculation, and obeyed his heart.

From this point Romeo's actions are more and more dictated by passion, and less and less by reason. He panics, and flies to Laurence's cell. Here he discovers that he is to be banished, and becomes almost hysterical at the prospect of separation from Juliet. Drawing a hasty conclusion from the first words of the Nurse (to whom he has not properly attended) he believes he has forfeited Juliet's love in killing Tybalt, and attempts to stab himself, being prevented by the Nurse's intervention and Laurence's plain-speaking. The manliness of Act 3, Scene 1 has for the moment deserted the boy, Romeo.

Like the earlier balcony-scene, the bed-chamber scene serves to show the unrestrained, imprudent character of the youthful lovers: at any moment Lady Capulet may enter (she should, if she had obeyed her husband's instructions, already have done so) and Romeo's life is forfeit if he be found in Verona. Yet first Juliet, then Romeo (as their roles in the argument are switched) pleads the case for his delaying his departure. Juliet's parting words to Romeo ("Methinks I see thee...As one dead in the bottom of a tomb") are not calculated to allay his fears. His fatalistic outlook and impetuous haste bring about the completion of the tragedy, every bit as much as accidents of circumstance, or decisions made by other characters. (These include the decision of Capulet to bring forward Juliet's wedding-day from Thursday to Wednesday; the nature of Laurence's desperate scheme to prevent Juliet's "marrying" Paris; Friar John's failure to bring Laurence's message to Romeo.)

On hearing Balthasar's news that Juliet has died, Romeo acts with extreme haste, and the servant's disregarded advice ("I do beseech you ... have patience") draws attention to this. Romeo's immediate thought is of suicide. This might (for a heart-broken lover) make sense, if he were sure of his bride's death. But Romeo, surprisingly, seems unconcerned to learn the circumstances and cause of Juliet's death (it might, after all, as Mercutio's has done, require avenging). If Romeo were to learn of the intended marriage to Paris and to note the timing of Juliet's death, he might discern something of Laurence s intention. But Romeo does not question Balthasar further (how much more he knows or believes is thus an academic question), nor does he, on returning to Verona, consult the friar.

He may have some reason for this: he believes Balthasar has told him the truth (and he will verify in the Capulet tomb what he has been told). And the friar, were Romeo to visit him, would perhaps try to dissuade him from suicide. However, it is Romeo's failure to enquire into the cause of Juliet's supposed death, which guarantees the play's fatal outcome - though Shakespeare, at the last, taunts the audience by an unforeseen interruption (Paris's appearance, improbably coinciding with Romeo's arrival, at the tomb). This delays Romeo's otherwise hasty actions in this scene - but by just too little to save him. Though Romeo acts precipitately in his suicidal return to Verona, there is a necessary checking of his haste as he contemplates the scene before him in the tomb. He has time to recognise the fact that he is not the only victim of fortune, and he generously carries out the dying wish of Paris, to be buried in the same tomb as Juliet, laying in the Capulet vault the body of 'lone writ" with him "in sour misfortune's book". He delays taking the poison long enough to make sympathetic speeches to the bodies of both Paris and Tybalt. And he delays further as he remarks that Juliet, though dead (as he believes her) still has lively colour in her lips and cheeks. (The audience knows why, but the hasty Romeo fails to discern the cause of this symptom.) Yet it is the haste that has gone before that has shaped the course of events.

Strikingly, though much has been made of the operation of fate in determining Romeo's and Juliet's fortunes, Romeo, at the last, defies its influence, and claims he will: "shake the yoke of unauspicious stars From this world-wearied flesh".

Convinced fatalists will argue that Romeo, ironically, is fulfilling the decrees of fate, even as he claims to be free of its influence, because he is fated to die at this point. Romeo himself, speaking to no-one who is able to hear him, believes that in taking the poison, he makes himself free of the "unauspicious stars", under the yoke of which he has suffered so much. The deeper irony is that the news that can, even now, save him will come too late not because of the operation of inexorable fortune, but because of his own excessive haste in his reaction to Balthasar's news.

Eyes, look your last.

Arms, take your last embrace.

And, lips, O you the doors of breath,

Seal "with a righteous kiss

A dateless bargain to engrossing death

Romeo thanks the apothecary for his skill and drinks the poison.

The effects of the sleeping potion wear off, and Juliet awakens calling for Romeo. Finding him next to her, dead, with a cup in his hand, she guesses what has transpired. She tries to kiss the poison from his lips, but failing that, unsheathes his dagger and plunges it into her breast.

Friar Lawrence learns that Romeo has not received his letter and rushes to Juliet's tomb to rescue her. He discovers the tomb already open and finds the sad contents within. Soon the Friar is joined by the Night Watchman, who had been alerted to the disturbance. Then the families gather around the star-crossed lovers. The Friar's mournful account of their death shames the two families into ending their feud forever.

Romeo is initially presented as a Petrarchan lover, a man whose feelings of love aren't reciprocated by the lady he admires and who uses the poetic language of sonnets to express his emotions about his situation. Romeo's exag

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