Significance of the Plot of Romeo and Juliet

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I want us to take a closer look at the plot of Romeo and Juliet.

This is a follow-up tutorial to the one in which I gave you my straightforward, no-meandering-around-the-curves plot summary of Romeo and Juliet.

My focus here today is going to be on something equally relevant.

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I’m talking about the significance of the plot of Romeo and Juliet, a tragic play by William Shakespeare.

Fast-paced plot

The plot of Romeo and Juliet moves at a fast pace.  It is interesting to note that whereas the same story, as narrated in Arthur Brooke’s poem spans across a period of more than nine months, Shakespeare, in this play makes the story last for less than five days.  

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The restriction of the action to a limited period has at least two significant effects:

Heightened emotions

The story moves at a fast, exciting pace.  The emotions, anxieties, fears and passions of the characters, particularly the hero and heroine are heightened and are made more prominent.

Every action or inaction on the part of any character has quick and, quite often, devastating consequences.  

A sense of urgency passes through the drama. The audience or the reader is as excited as the characters in the play.


A great deal of suspense is generated in the plot of Romeo and Juliet.  We are eager to know what effect an action will have.   This feeling of suspense increases our anxiety and excitement.

The cruelty of time increases our sympathy for the lovers

The briefness of the episodes depicts the cruelty of the quick passage of time against the hero and the heroine. The final act, Act 5, is a good example here. This produces the effect of a feeling of sympathy (from the audience) for the young lovers.


On the whole, the plot of Romeo and Juliet contributes, in no small measure, to the tragic flavour of the play. This is borne out by the emotions, the urgency of time and the feeling of sympathy that it evokes in us.

Photo by Monica Silvestre from Pexels

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Ralph spends his day working as an online entrepreneur and e-learning strategist. As a digital publishing trainer/consultant, he has developed exceptional skills in SEO-content writing. He writes extensively on lifelong learning and personal development issues. Ralph is the CEO of RN Digital Media Ent - a digital publishing & content marketing services platform he founded in 2017.

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