Romeo and Juliet – Act Summary and Quotes

The Prologue Tells the whole story in 14 lines. Shakespeare introduces the main themes, love, death, fate, family, honour and conflict. It sets the mood for the rest of the play.Romeo and Juliet are “star-cross’d lovers” which tells us they are doomed from the start.
Act 1 – Scene 1 (Conflict) Sword fight between the Montagues and Capulets. Scene is dramatic and shows the extent of the conflict between the two families. Prince says the next person to cause trouble will be executed – violent threats. First scene including Tybalt who always wants to fight.
Act 1 – Scene 1 (Love) Romeo is upset because he is a victim of unrequited love with Rosaline. Shows Romeo is romantic and emotional. He says that love is confusing, a “choking gall” and “preserving sweet”.
Act 1 – Scenes 2 & 3 (Love) Paris asks Capulet if he can marry Juliet, and her parents want her to think about it. Shows that her father is considerate of her feelings, unlike most fathers of the time. Hints that Romeo and Juliet might become lovers, as they both have bad experiences with love. Rosaline and Paris make Romeo and Juliet seem much more compassionate for each other. Juliet’s relationship with Paris was purely financial. She’ll “share all that he doth possess”.
Act 1 – Scene 4 (Conflict) There’s a Capulet Ball, Romeo and his friends shouldn’t go. Romeo says he had a dream that gives him a bad feeling about the ball (fate and foreshadowing). Romeo believes that his dream was warning him about his fate. Many points when fate and visions are involved.
Act 1 – Scene 5 (Love) Romeo sees Juliet for the first time, and Tybalt wants to fight him. Capulet tells Tybalt not to fight Romeo at the party, but it shows how doomed the relationship was from the start. Romeo then talks to Juliet in a sonnet, a traditional love poem which contrasts with their nontraditional love. The sonnet also shows how well Romeo and Juliet understand each other and how well their language slots together. The scene ends in suspense as they find out that their families hate each other – “my only love sprung from my only hate”.
Act 2 – Scene 1 (Love) This scene is a break from the intense themes throughout the other scenes. Mercutio comments on Rosaline’s “bright eyes” and “quivering thigh” hints at the passionate atmosphere later on. The lustful atmosphere contrasts with Romeo’s traditional love for Romeo.
Act 2 – Scene 2 (Love) – famous balcony sceneThis scene is tense and rushed as we know that Romeo and Juliet could get caught at any minute. This is the only scene that they are alone for a long period of time, meaning that it’s intimate and romantic. Juliet has a soliloquy, which is her talking to herself, allowing her to talk openly about her feelings for Romeo. Juliet is embarrassed as Romeo has heard her declare her love for him, however she won’t take it back as it’s true. The family conflict means it’s even more dangerous for them to be together, which builds up tension.
Act 2 – Scene 2 (Love & Quotes) Juliet says that Romeo should “refuse thy name” suggest that he stops being a Montague or she will stop being a Capulet. This shows how strongly they feel for each other as they are prepared to leave their families. Juliet suggests they get married and Romeo says he will do it the next day. This shows that Juliet is impulsive and romantic, just like Romeo.
Act 2 – Scene 3 (Love) – Friar is introducedRomeo explains that he has forgotten Rosaline and is in love with Juliet. The Friar is amazed that Romeo has found love again, and reluctantly agrees to marry them. The Friar seems kind and wise – he calls Romeo – “young son” and “pupil mine”, which suggests that they have a close relationship.
Act 2 – Scene 3 (Foreshadowing) The Friar explains that plants used to cure people can also be misused to kill people, as “virtue itself turns to vice”. This foreshadows Romeo’s death by poison, and Juliet’s use of the potion to fake her own death. He says Romeo has buried his love for Rosaline “in a grave” which is what happens to his new love Juliet. Shakespeare uses foreshadowing to make the Friar seem very wise or spookily knowledgable.
Act 2 – Scene 4 (Love) Romeo sends a message to Juliet (via the Nurse) telling her that the wedding has been arranged. In this scene, Romeo is also cheerful with his friends for the first time and this shows that Juliet has a positive effect on Romeo.
Act 2 – Scene 4 (Conflict) The audience learns that Tybalt has sent a challenge to Romeo, this builds tension as Romeo will not fight his wife’s cousin.
Act 2 – Scene 5 (Love) Juliet is waiting for the Nurse to give her the message, and her speech shows her frustration. She can’t believe it’s “three hours long, yet she is not come”, and accuses her of being “unwieldy, slow and heavy”. This shows she is impatient and wants to get married to Romeo. When the nurse arrives, Juliet is frantic for news, however the nurse avoids the questions. This scene shows their close relationship as the Nurse is teasing Juliet.
Act 2 – Scene 6 (Love) Just before the wedding and is a very short which shows the rushed marriage with no wedding preparations. The Friar says “come come with me and we will make short work”. Implying that he wants to marry them as quickly as possible. The Friar is concerned that Romeo is showing too much emotion and this is dangerous (“these violent delights have violent ends”). Romeo says let “love devouring death do what he dare” this foreshadows that they’ll die.
Act 3 – Scene 1 (Conflict) Romeo uses violent images to set the scene, such as “mad blood stirring”, which increases the tension. Tybalt arrives, he wants to fight Romeo but is teased by Mercutio. This way, we don’t know who will end up in a fight. Romeo steps between them to stop the fight, which shows that he is desperate to stop the conflict. Romeo has divided loyalties as Tybalt is his wives cousin, and Mercutio is his best friend. Romeo cannot stop the fighting because the hatred is so strong.
Act 3 – Scene 1 (Death) Mercutio dies and his death is a shock as he says it’s only “a scratch”. He wishes “a plague o’ both your houses!” Which means that he blames the feud for his death and wants them both to suffer. Romeo wants revenge on Tybalt and says “this but begins the woe” – fighting Tybalt will cause trouble but he’s angry over Mercutio’s death. Romeo then kills Tybalt, which means he’s banished from Verona. This builds tension as it could break Romeo and Juliet. Romeo goes to Mantua.
Act 3 – Scene 2 (Love) At the start it’s tense as Juliet has not yet found out that Romeo is banished and Tybalt is dead. She wants it to be “night immediately” so she can spend her wedding night with her husband. The Nurse uses dramatic imagery such as ” bloody piteous corpse” showing that she is angry that the fued has happened. Juliet is even suicidal when thinking about Romeo’s death, but is then angry when she finds out that “Romeo’s hand shed Tybalt’s blood”. Juliet describes Romeo as a “beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical”. The oxymoron shows that he’s evil but she still loves him. This scene shows that she cares more for Romeo than her own family or her own life.
Act 3 – Scene 3 (Love) Romeo thinks that banishment has “more terror” than death. He uses the word “banished” and “banishment” multiple times, implying that he’s overwhelmed and can’t come to terms with his banishment. Romeo becomes suicidal thinking about living without “dear Juliet’s hand”. The Friar says “Art thou a man?” convincing him not to kill himself. This reminds us that Romeo is still young and he needs the Friar’s guidance. When Romeo leaves he’s happy and excited about seeing Juliet “a joy past joys” which is a sharp contrast from suicidal, suggesting mood swings.
Act 3 – Scene 4 (Love) Lord Capulet tells Paris that he will marry Juliet on Thursday, builds tension as we know it would be sinful for Juliet to commit bigamy and marry Paris. Capulet expects her to “act obediently” as most daughters of the time would do, however this creates suspense as we do not know how Juliet will react.
Act 3 – Scene 5 (Love) Early the next day, Romeo leaves for Mantua. They drag out their goodbyes, which shows they are deeply in love. Juliet desperately wants him to stay, and pretends it’s not time for him to go. The lovers talk in rhyme like they understand each other. There’s also foreshadowing as Juliet says Romeo looks like he’s “dead in the bottom of a tomb”.
Act 3 – Scene 5 (Conflict) Lord Capulet is provoked when Juliet refuses to marry Paris. He rants uncontrollably, talking in short bursts “hang! Beg! Starve! Die in the streets!” and insults Juliet – “green-sickness carrion baggage… tallow-face”. This depicts Capulet as a horrible father and shows he is shocked that she is betraying his authority. Even the Nurse says that Juliet should marry Paris, and Juliet feels betrayed calling her a “wicked fiend”. Everyone has left Juliet, and she’s alone on the stage.
Act 4 – Scene 1 (Love) Juliet arrives at the Friar’s to see Paris leaving, which is tense as she has to be polite to him. As soon as he leaves, Juliet begins to cry and this contrasts with her controlled behaviour around Paris, making her seem more dramatic. Juliet tells the Friar that she would rather kill herself than marry Paris. The Friar has to help as he is religious, he can’t see Juliet marrying for a second time. The Friar gives Juliet the sleeping potion to take to make her look dead in the Capulet tomb. He will then write to Romeo, who will rescue her and take her to Mantua.
Act 4 – Scene 2 (Family) The Capulet’s are preparing for the wedding, without Juliet’s consent. This shows that they do not care about their daughters feelings, and they want her to marry into Paris’ money. Juliet tells her parents that she is sorry that she was so disobedient, and that she’ll marry Paris. This behaviour makes her character seem determined, as she fools her parents into thinking that she will be “rul’d” by them.
Act 4 – Scene 3 (Love) Juliet gets ready to take the Friar’s potion, and sends the Nurse and her mother away. She wants to “call them back to comfort her” showing that she feels alone and scared. In Juliet’s soliloquy, she describes horrible images about the tomb, such as it has a “foul mouth” and Tybalt’s body is “festering” there. She is worried that she will turn mental and “madly play” with her ancestor’s bones. This soliloquy is much different from the speech she gives in the balcony scene.
Act 4 – Scene 4 (Family) The Capulet’s are preparing for the wedding. The atmosphere is happy but rushed, however they are all teasing each others so the mood is light-hearted. The jolliness contrasts with the dark atmosphere of the last scene, which shows that the Capulet’s do not have much control over Juliet as they do not know what she is doing.
Act 4 – Scene 5 (“Death”) There’s a strange atmosphere here, as the audience know Juliet is not dead, however the characters all believe that she is. The Nurse thinks that she is sleeping late, so there’s dramatic tension as the audience wait for the Nurse to find out that Juliet is dead. The Capulet’s and Paris are all notified of her “death” and they’re all very upset, which suggests they loved Juliet, however we know that they didn’t care for her feelings.
Act 5 – Scene 1 (Love/Death) Romeo is living in Mantua, and he has had a dream that he died and Juliet bought him back to life with a kiss. This foreshadows Romeo’s death at the end of the play. Romeo’s servant Balthasar informs Romeo that Juliet is dead, and because Romeo hasn’t received the Friar’s letter, he believes it. It is fate that the letter didn’t arrive, but Romeo’s impatience is part of his downfall. His decision to die is rushed and he doesn’t think to contact the Friar. He calls on an apothecary to supply poison so he can kill himself in Juliet’s tomb.
Act 5 – Scene 2 (Love) This scene increases tension, as we know that the letter wasn’t delivered so Romeo has no idea that Juliet is not actually dead. The Friar decides to write to Romeo again, but Romeo is rushing to Verona. The Friar has now lost control of the situation. This scene keeps the audience hoping that the Friar might bump into Romeo in Verona or Juliet might wake up on time. It seems possible that it could work out, but we know from the prologue that it won’t.
Act 5 – Scene 3 (Death) Paris goes to lay flowers in Juliet’s tomb, but when Romeo arrives, Paris hides. Romeo tells his servant to leave, and threatens to kill him “joint by joint” if he stays. This shows how determined Romeo is to die, and will kill anyone who gets in his way. Paris tries to arrest Romeo, which shows that Paris did have feelings for Juliet as he tried to defend her. Romeo is unstable and violent, however he doesn’t want to fight Paris and instead begs him “to tempt not a desperate man”, but Paris won’t leave him so they fight and Romeo kills him. Paris asks to be laid “with Juliet” as he dies, suggesting that he loved Juliet.
Act 5 – Scene 3 (Death) Romeo is amazed that Juliet still looks so beautiful – “death’s pale flag is not advanced there”. The audience know how close it is for Romeo to realise that Juliet isn’t actually dead which creates tension and suspense but also increases the sadness of the scene. Romeo thinks that fate is trying to keep them apart, but death will bring them together again. By dying he will “shake the yoke of inauspicious stars” and escape this fate.
Act 5 – Scene 3 (Death) Friar Lawrence finds Paris and Romeo’s dead bodies. His speech is full of horrible images of “grubs” and “eyeless skulls”. Juliet wakes up, and the Friar is frightened as he asks her to “come, come away”, and then runs away. This cowardly behaviour contrasts with his previous wisdom and advice. Juliet kisses Romeo’s lips, hoping that “some poison yet doth hang upon them” – death and love are linked”. Juliet doesn’t give a long soliloquy before her death which makes her suicide seem rushed and panicked and doesn’t think about what she’s doing which also shows the passion that she has.
Act 5 – Scene 3 (Death/Family) The Town Guards, The Prince and the Capulets arrive. The guards explain that Romeo and Juliet are dead. Lord Montague arrives and sees Romeo’s dead body. Most of the characters are there which creates chaos. Friar Lawrence explains the story and says he should be executed as it’s his fault, however he makes everything sound like an accident so he can’t be blamed. The Prince blames the feud for the deaths, but doesn’t punish anyone. Capulet and Montague make peace, so it’s a somewhat happy ending!

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