Romeo and Juliet | Understanding Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Written by on | Shakespeare
Play Ranking9.0

Romeo and Juliet is arguably Shakespeare’s best known play and one of his most beloved (ranked no. 7 in our Best Shakespeare Plays). If you grow up in the west, Romeo and Juliet is almost threaded into your collective consciousness. Even those who have never read a page know the story or can quote a couple of iconic lines. This story of epic love, tragic loss and teenage idiocy is one that still captivates us. Though often over done and over quoted, this play offers us so much as actors. This page will hopefully be a guide in understanding more about the play.

Romeo and Juliet: Synopsis

An unexplained family feud is taking place between two rival aristocratic houses: Montague and Capulet. The streets of Verona are contaminated with brawls between members of each house and the prince has had enough. He intercedes and makes it clear that any more fighting may result in death. In a show of peace, Old Capulet (the head of the Capulet household) invites Paris, the Prince’s relation, to dinner: encouraging him to court his beautiful daughter Juliet.

Romeo, the son of Montague, is infatuated with Rosaline, Capulet’s niece. Romeo decides he will attend the Capulet ball in an audacious attempt to woo Rosaline. Romeo, accompanied by his loyal friends and disguised in a mask, infiltrates the Capulet ball. Romeo immediately takes notice of Juliet and falls in love with her: Juliet reciprocates. Later that evening he appears at her balcony and witnesses her confessing her love for him; he then unveils himself and in what is famously known as the ‘balcony scene’ they confesses their love for each other. Romeo, pumped up on love, leaves to find Friar Laurence and they are quickly married. The Friar is hopeful this may be the way to finally conclude the family feuding.

Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, soon discovers Romeo has attended the ball and challenges him to a duel. However Romeo, newly married, feels he is now unable to fight with Tybalt. Mercutio (Romeo’s best friend) has no reserves about challenging his enemy and duels with Tybalt. Mercutio is mortally wounded. Romeo, enraged, loses all his recent feeling of kinship and kills Tybalt. He is then banished by the Prince. Juliet, who has been waiting for her new husband to arrive, is informed of her cousin’s death and Romeo’s exile. Romeo and Juliet spend one passionate night together before he is forced to leave. Juliet falls into a state of grief and her father decides to push forward her marriage to Paris. However, Juliet is obdurate in her refusal to marry Paris and this effrontery angers her family.  They ignore her wishes and go ahead with the marriage.

Romeo, upon Friar Laurence’s advice, departs to Mantua. The Friar then tells Juliet to take a drug ostensibly to kill herself. The family, thinking her dead, would then take her to the family tomb where the Friar plans to reunite her with Romeo. Juliet agrees. The Friar then sends a message to Romeo with the plan; however it never reaches him. He instead hears news of her death. He rushes to the tomb and fights with the mourning Paris and kills him. He then, affirming his beautiful Juliet has died, kills himself with a poison he has purchased. Juliet awakes to find her Romeo dead by her side and subsequently stabs herself to death. The Friar witnesses this tragedy and demands that both families see the devastation that has taken place. The families, finally convinced by this weighty loss, agree to stop the fighting.

Character List

Escalus: Prince of Verona
Paris: a young nobleman and relation of the Prince
Page to Paris: another Page; an Officer

Montague: heads of Montague household
Lady Montague: wife to Montague
Romeo: Montague’s Son
Mercutio: Romeo’s friend
Benvolio: Montague’s nephew and friend of Romeo
Balthasar: Romeo’s servant
Abram: a servant to Montague

Capulet: heads of Capulet household
Lady Capulet: wife to Capulet
Juliet: daughter to Capulet
Nurse:  Juliet’s foster-mother
Tybalt: Lady Capulet’s nephew
Old man: cousin to Capulet
Sampson and Gregory: servants to Capulet
Peter: Capulet servant

Friar Laurence: of the Franciscan Order
Friar John: of the Franciscan Order
An Apothecary
Three Musicians
Citizens of Verona; Masquers, Guards, Torchbearers and servants

Romeo and Juliet Monologues

If you are looking for an amazing monologue from Romeo and Juliet we have you sorted. There are number of iconic monologues from both Romeo and Juliet, as well as a few notable classics from Mercutio, Friar Laurence and others. Here are the main monologues from the play and include full translations and analysis:

Mercutio (Act 1 Scene 4) – O, then I see that Queen Mab hath been with you

Juliet (Act 2 Scene 5) – The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse;

Romeo (Act 2 Scene 1) – But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

Benvolio (Act 3 Scene 1) -Tybalt, here slain, whom Romeo’s hand did slay.

Juliet (Act 3 Scene 2) – Gallop apace you fiery footed steeds 

Romeo and Juliet (Act 3 Scene 3) – ‘Tis torture, and not mercy: heaven is here,


About the Author


is Stage Milk's core writer. He is a trained, Sydney based actor who writes the majority of our acting information.

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