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Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary.
In the Italian city of Verona are two enemy families: the Montague and Capulet families. The enmity between them dates back to ancient times. Members and even servants of these two families engage one another in bloody fights at the least opportunity.
The drama begins with one of these fights which has to be stopped by the ruler of the city, Prince Escalus.
Lord and Lady Montague have a son called Romeo. Romeo has, of late, been behaving strangely. His parents therefore ask Benvolio, a cousin of Romeo’s to find out the cause of Romeo’s strange behaviour.
Romeo confesses his love for a girl called Rosaline who has refused to return that love hence his (Romeo’s) sorrow.
Soon after, Romeo and Benvolio get to know of an impending feast (party) at their enemies’ (the Capulets’) house. They also learn that Rosaline is sure to attend that feast.
They therefore decide to go and meet her there. But, being Montagues and, therefore, sworn enemies of the Capulets, Romeo and Benvolio have to wear masks as a form of disguise lest they are recognized and beaten up or killed.
At the party, something dramatic happens. Romeo sees another girl and instantly falls in love with her – chiefly because of her stunning beauty.
This new girl of Romeo’s heart, Juliet, is unfortunately an only daughter of the Capulets.
Juliet, also falls heavily in love with Romeo. However, they are both unhappy about the fact that they belong to families that are bitter enemies.
In spite of the enmity, the two young lovers marry secretly.
This ceremony is performed by a priest by name, Friar Lawrence. He sees the duty of marrying Romeo and Juliet as a glorious opportunity to heal the wound of bitterness between their families.
Mercutio and Tybalt die
Juliet has a cousin called Tybalt. He is a hot tempered young man who is ever ready to pour more fuel into raging fire of the inter – family feud.
Tybalt, true to his nature, has no difficulty in finding out the true identify of Romeo and his friends at the feast. Tybalt will not let these Montagues’ presence at their (the Capulets’) feast go unpunished.
To him, Romeo’s presence at a party to which he has not been expressly invited is an affront to the pride and dignity of the Capulet name. He therefore plans to pay Romeo back.
Just after the secret marriage between Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt meets Romeo and challenges him to a fight. But Romeo, who now considers himself a friend of the Capulet family (by virtue of his marriage to Juliet) refuses to fight Tybalt.
But Tybalt has his counterpart in Mercutio, another high-spirited young man and a friend of Romeo’s.
Quick-tempered as he is, Mercutio will not have anybody call him, or his friend a coward. He therefore makes the fight his own and fights Tybalt.
Mercutio is killed as a result. His death makes Romeo go mad. Filled with rage, Romeo fights Tybalt and kills him to avenge Mercutio’s death.
Romeo goes into exile
By killing Tybalt, Romeo has committed at least two serious crimes according to the laws of Verona: (i) he has committed murder. The least punishment one could get for this serious violation of the law is banishment.
And Romeo gets just that. (ii) He has taken the law into his own hands. With Friar Lawrence’s help and advice, he goes into exile in Mantua.
Meanwhile, nobody, in exception of Juliet’s Nurse and Friar Lawrence, is aware that Romeo and Juliet have been married.
So, while Romeo is in exile, Juliet’s father forcibly arranges marriage between Juliet and a young royal, Count Paris.
Juliet will have none of it.
Desperate, she rushes to Friar Lawrence for advice as to how to avoid marrying Paris. She does not want to be unfaithful to her husband and lover, Romeo.
Resourceful Friar Lawrence
Friar Lawrence, ingenious as he is, quickly comes up with an idea. He gives Juliet a drug which will make her unconscious for forty-two hours (i.e. less than two days).
His intention is to make the impending marriage between Juliet and Paris impossible by making Juliet appear dead. Then he will send for Romeo who will come and run away with Juliet (Romeo will arrive at a time when Juliet will have regained consciousness in the tomb).
Juliet swallows the drug and is found “dead” on the wedding day.
Her body is, therefore, buried in a tomb in the family vault.
Friar John couldn’t deliver the message to Romeo.
Sadly however, Friar Lawrence’s messenger to Romeo, Friar John, had not been able to go to Mantua to deliver the letter concerning the secret plan.
This is due to an outbreak of a highly communicable disease called plague in Verona as a result of which Friar John, by a twist of fate, is detained by the city’s health authorities.
It is rather Balthazar, Romeo’s servant, who arrives in Mantua to inform Romeo that Juliet is no more. (Balthazar is unaware of the secret plan).
Romeo is heartbroken
Romeo is devastated by the shocking news. He plans to kill himself and join Juliet in death. So he buys some poison and hurries back to Verona and straight to Juliet’s tomb.
It is here that he meets Paris who, also out of love for Juliet goes there to lay some flowers on her tomb.
Paris will not allow Romeo to enter Juliet’s tomb. Romeo in his part, will not allow anybody or anything to mar his mission of love, death and destiny.
He fights and kills Paris. He then poisons himself and lies dead beside Juliet.
Friar Lawrence arrives too late
Friar Lawrence, having found out that his messenger never reached Romeo, arrives at the graveyard in panic ready to carry out a new plan in order to avert disaster.
But again, he is too late.
Before his eyes lie the dead bodies of Romeo and Paris and the awakening body of Juliet.
Juliet, seeing Romeo dead, will no longer take any advice from the Friar. She kills herself with Romeo’s dagger just after a frightened Friar Lawrence had bolted.
Reconciliation between the Montagues and the Capulets
The people of the city including their ruler, Prince Escalus, arrive to take in the gory picture.
Friar Lawrence, considered a suspect in the deaths, is arrested. He opens up and tells the whole story of the two lovers. He mentions the Nurse as his witness.
Lord Capulet and Lord Montague, having seen the tragedy that their enmity has visited on their families, are finally reconciled.
Montague promises to erect a statue in memory of Juliet and Capulet promises to do likewise for Romeo.
This is the end of a summary of Romeo and Juliet.
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