Romeo and Juliet Study Guide

in Verona, Italy Where is the play set?
There are two feuding families. Their fighting is disturbing the peace of the city. What problem exists in the city?
Into these two families were born two children who were destined to become lovers and kill themselves. Put the following lines into your own words:”From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;”
The ancients and Elizabethans thought the stars influenced our destiny or fate; “star-cross’d lovers” suggest bad luck or fate for these lovers What does the term “star-cross’d lovers” suggest?
In their misadventure, Romeo and Juliet die; and through their death, they end the feuding between their families. Put these lines into your own words:”Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrowsDoth, with their death, bury their parents’ strife.”
Like many of Shakespeare’s characters, these men are cowardly servants who talk tough but cannot be depended on. We see that they don’t even trust each other. They talk of starting a fight, but they are afraid of doing anything that will get them in trouble with the law. What is there about the talk and actual actions of Gregory and Sampson which suggests that they are not as brave and tough as they pretend? Give and example of their actions that contradict their talk.
Benvolio, a Montague, tries to break up the fighting servants by drawing his own sword. Who is Benvolio and what does he attempt to do?
Tybalt questions Benvolio’s attempts at peace, claims to hate the word, and threatens to kill Benvolio. How does Tybalt, a Capulet, misinterpret Benvolio’s action?What does Tybalt say to him?
He doesn’t listen to Benvolio’s explanation; rather, he starts fighting immediately. Why is Tybalt considered hot-tempered?
Instead of calling for a sword to fight with, he should, at his age, be calling for a cane. What does Lady Capulet say about Lord Capulet’s age and condition?
He, too, is too old to be out on the street engaging in sword fights. What do you suppose prompts Lady Montague to hold her husband back from the fight?
This Capulet/Montague feud has disturbed the peace of the city once too often. The next Capulet or Montague who breaks the peace will pay with his life at the hands of the Prince’s civil authority. The Prince appears, and he is angry. Why is he angry, and what is the promise and threat he makes?
Bebvolio was awake, sometime before sunrise and saw Romeo, but Romeo spotted him and left. Not really eager for company himself, Benvolio did not bother to go after him. Lady Montague, glad that Romeo has missed the fight, asks Benvolio if he has seen Romeo. What is Benvolio’s response?
She is worried about Romeo because he has been behaving strangely lately. For example, he gets up very early and goes off on walks by himself. He seems to be very sad. At this point, what is Lady Montague worried about?
Romeo is in love with someone, Rosaline, who doesn’t return his love. Romeo enters and tells Benvolio the problem. What is his problem?
When Romeo finishes, he says to Benvolio, “Dost thou not laugh?” Romeo’s lines can be seen as presenting the paradox of love or simply as romantic nonsense. What indication is there that Romeo recognizes that his sentiments could be viewed as romantic nonsense?
He’s not laughing because, being young and romantic himself, he has the same problem and can sympathize with Romeo. What is Benvolio’s response?
Benvolio asks whom Romeo loves. Romeo answers a woman. Benvolio says that that is obvious. Although both are saddened by unrequited love, what jokes are they able to make?
Romeo’s overtures toward Rosaline are only physical. After being refused, he must, in the tradition of courtly love, pine away and die of unrequited love. What is the nature of Romeo’s desire toward Rosaline? According to the tradition of courtly love, how is Romeo expected to respond to her rejection?
Romeo should look for someone else and forget Rosaline, but Romeo responds that he will never be able to be taught to forget her. What practical advice does Benvolio give Romeo?
He asks for Juliet’s hand in marriage. After some small talk, Paris gets to the point of his visit. What does he ask of Lord Capulet?
Juliet is not even fourteen, but in two years they could get married if she is willing. What is Capulet’s response?
She is the only child Capulet has left, and he won’t force her into a marriage she doesn’t want. Paris responds that girls younger than she have been married. What is Capulet’s response to this?
He tells Paris that he must win Juliet’s heart. Capulet invites him to attend a party he is giving that night to court her. What suggestion and invitation does Capulet make to Paris?
Benvolio suggests that they go to the party and Benvolio will show Romeo women that make Rosaline look ugly by comparison. Romeo, lamenting his unrequited love, is approached by the illiterate servingman. In reading his list he finds that Rosaline, his love, is going to attend the Capulet party. What suggestion does Benvolio make?
Benvolio wants Romeo to look at Rosaline next to someone else, and he will see how little she has When Romeo responds that she is the most beautiful woman since time began, what is Benvolio’s response?
She tells her that Paris want to marry her. She also tells her that he is a handsome man and a fine catch, so Juliet should look him over tonight at the party and think about it. What does Juliet’s mother tell Juliet?
She’ll do as her mother suggests. What is Juliet’s response?
His soul is made of lead (sadness) and weighs him down. Why does Romeo say he won’t be able to dance?
The party is a masked ball, so they will not be easily recognized. How do these Montagues expect to be able to enter a Capulet house?
Dreams signify nothing and reflect a great deal of superstitious nonsense. Romeo seems to believe that our dreams have something to do with our lives; perhaps, dreams act as a presentiment or omen. What is Mercutio’s opinion of dreams?
He says that it’s getting late and they should go. How does Mercutio end this conversation?
He feels that by going to this party he will initiate a chain of events (destiny “hanging in the stars”) that may end in his untimely death. What is Romeo’s misgiving, and what does the line “some consequences, yet hanging in the stars” have to do with his feeling of dread?
Using elegant comparisons, he describes her as being the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and concludes that he is in love. Lord Capulet and a relative stand, unmasked, on one side of the room. Romeo, masked, standing on the other side, asks a servingman who Juliet is. How does Romeo describe the girl, and what does he conclude?
He recognizes it as a Montague voice and vows to kill Romeo. What is the hot-tempered Tybalt’s reaction when he hears Romeo’s voice?
Tybalt should leave Romeo alone and not cause trouble. Romeo is causing no problem, and he has a good reputation in Verona. What does Lord Capulet say to Tybalt?
He withdraws, but he vows to get revenge on Romeo for coming to the party. Tybalt obeys his uncle, but what does he vow?
She allows him to kiss her twice. Then as he leaves, she sends the Nurse to find out who he is. When Juliet finds out, she laments the fact that she loves someone from the hated enemy family. Romeo goes up to Juliet, begins a conversation, and ends up kissing her twice before the Nurse comes and tells Juliet that her mother wants her. Romeo and his friends leave. How do we know that Juliet feels as strongly about Romeo as he does about her?
Romeo’s great love for Rosaline has died since he met Juliet. The chorus comments on the action of the play. Put in your own words in the meaning of the first four lines.
Being enemies, how are the lovers to get together? What problem of the lovers is alluded to?
Because of their strong passion, they will find some way to be together. What is the suggested answer to their problem?
They think Romeo is still in love with Rosaline and pining away for her. We know, however, that he is now in love with Juliet and that Juliet is in love with Romeo. Romeo slips away from his friends; Mercutio makes jokes about Rosaline. What misapprehension are Mercutio and Benvolio under? What truth does the audience know?
He is singing the praises of Juliet’s beauty. Romeo’s first speech is one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s soliloquies. What is the main idea of Romeo’s speech?
She loves Romeo, and she will not let the names Montague and Capulet stand between her and her love. What is Juliet saying when Romeo is down in the orchard?
She realizes, suddenly, that there is a man beneath her window who has heard what no one is supposed to hear; her avowal of love for Romeo. Why, at this point, is Juliet suddenly startled?
There is no risk or wall that can keep him from her; only her refusal to see him can hurt him. As Juliet points out, Romeo is risking death by being here. What is his response?
She asks Romeo if he loves her, realizing that Romeo might easily lie to her in order to achieve a conquest. Juliet is embarrassed that Romeo has overheard how she feels about him, but she decides to ignore convention. Although deeply in lover herself, how does she show herself to be shrewd and knowledgeable about men?
He may think she is an easy conquest because she is not remaining aloof. Since Romeo has overheard her private thoughts, what is Juliet’s concern?
Juliet tells him the moon changes, and his love should not be as variable as the moon. She wants him to speak the truth from his heart. When Romeo swears by the moon, what does Juliet tell him?
Their love, their relationship, is moving much too quickly. She is a little frightened. What second thoughts does Juliet have?
He is afraid the night has been a dream, because everything is wonderful. After an exchange of vows, the Nurse calls and Juliet must leave. What is Romeo’s feeling as he stands there?
If he is serious and wants to marry her, she will follow him anywhere Juliet then reappears. What does she tell Romeo?
“Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrowThat I shall say good night till it be morrow.” She then leaves; as Romeo begins to go, Juliet reappears a second time. It is apparent that neither one wants the night to end. Juliet’s parting line is probably the most famous exit line in literature. What is it?
He will go to his friend the Friar for help. What decision does Romeo make after this first discussion with Juliet?
He is shocked that Romeo can so quickly change his affections. He concludes that Romeo’s love lies only in physical affection. The Friar, guessing that Romeo is out early because he was up all night, assumes that Romeo has been with Rosaline. When Romeo informs him that it is not Rosaline he wishes to marry, but somebody else, what is the Friar’s reaction?
He says he can’t believe after all the crying and groaning he heard from Romeo about Rosaline, that Romeo has now completely forgotten her. How is the Friar making fun of Romeo?
He thinks that their marriage may end the hatred between the two families. Why does the Friar agree to help Romeo and Juliet get married?
Mercutio says he is happy to see the old Romeo, the sociable, jesting Romeo, not the groaning Romeo pining for Rosaline that he has had to put up with. As Romeo enters, Mercutio and Benvolio are discussing Romeo’s longing for Rosaline and Tybalt’s challenge to Romeo. What change in Romeo’s behavior does Mercutio comment on?
Romeo comments that he would grow old waiting to find out what she wants. The Nurse and Peter arrive looking for Romeo. Mercutio , in a playful mood, insults the Nurse, who responds in kind. What does Romeo say to her?
He purposely says “indite” instead of “invite” to poke fun at the way the Nurse speaks. The Nurse uses the wrong word (“confidence” for “conference”). How does Benvolio make fun of her?
Mercutio is someone who loves to hear himself talk and will say more in a minute than he’ll listen to in a month. After Benvolio and Mercutio leave, the Nurse asks, in effect, who the wise guy is. What is Romeo’s answer?
She questions whether he is just leading Juliet on or whether he really loves Juliet. The Nurse, angry and upset with Mercutio, and with Peter who just stands by while she is being insulted, expresses what doubts about Romeo?
Romeo wants Juliet to devise a way to come for confession at Friar Lawrence’s cell that afternoon. What is the message that Romeo gives the Nurse to give to Juliet?
He is to bring a rope ladder she is to hang from her balcony. What is Romeo’s man to bring to hang from her balcony?
She is anxious and impatiently waits for the Nurse to come with the good or bad news. As Juliet waits for the Nurse to return, what is her mood?
She says she can’t speak yet; she needs to catch her breath. Meanwhile Juliet waits expectantly. Then, instead of telling Juliet Romeo’s response, the Nurse starts complaining of her aches and pains and asks about Juliet’s mother, delaying the new Juliet can’t wait to hear. How does the Nurse tease Juliet?
She gives Romeo’s instructions to Juliet; Juliet should go to confession at the Friar’s, and he will marry her with Romeo. Finally, what does the Nurse tell her?
Juliet is to hang it from her balcony the night of her marriage, so that Romeo can climb the ladder to Juliet’s room. The Nurse tells Juliet that she is off to fetch the rope ladder. What is this rope ladder to be used for?
He says, “These violent delights” (Romeo and Juliet’s passion for each other) may end in violence. A more moderate love is a long love, for a love that begins quickly can end quickly. The Friar seems to have some doubts about the wisdom of what he is about to do. Romeo responds that death can do what it dares to him after he is married to Juliet. What reservations does the Friar express?
Both are ecstatically happy. Juliet enters. What is the mood that Romeo and Juliet express?
Romeo and Juliet are married by the Friar. What follows after they exit from the stage?
He says in hot weather, like the kind they are experiencing, they should avoid the Capulets since hot weather triggers violence. How does Benvolio show himself to be a reasoning man?
Mercutio says that Benvolio is the more hot-tempered one and shouldn’t be giving him lessons on controlling his temper when Benvolio can’t control his own. Mercutio is probably not correct. Benvolio appears to be the more rational of the two. What is Mercutio’s response to Benvolio’s words of caution? Is he correct?
While Benvolio is trying to keep things cool, Mercutio seems determined to fight with Tybalt. How does Mercutio show himself to be the more reckless of the two?
Romeo tries to calm Tybalt. He tells him that he has a reason to love Tybalt that Tybalt, as yet, does not know of. Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin. Romeo enters. What is his response to Tybalt’s challenge and to Tybalt’s insult?
He thinks Romeo has acted dishonorably, so he draws his sword and challenges Tybalt. How does Mercutio react to Romeo’s refusal to fight with Tybalt?
Romeo tries to break up the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio; in so doing, he gives Tybalt the opportunity to stab Mercutio. In what way is Romeo responsible for Mercutio’s being stabbed?
He says that his wound is not “deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door,” but it is enough to kill him. Mercutio also claims that he will be “grave” tomorrow, meaning both “sad and solemn” and “buried.” In what way is Mercutio’s comment about his wound sarcastic?
He feels that because Mercutio has died fighting for him. Romeo now must kill Tybalt, regardless of how it might upset Juliet. What is Romeo’s reaction to Mercutio’s death?
She wants a Montague, Romeo, to be killed for having killed her nephew, Tybalt. What does Lady Capulet request of the Prince?
He makes Mercutio seem completely innocent, which we know is not accurate. What slant does Benvolio put on his account of the fight?
She says that he is speaking falsely because he is a relative of the Montagues. What is Lady Capulet’s comment on Benvolio’s story?
He banishes Romeo from the city. If Romeo returns, he is to be killed. What is the Prince’s decision?
The news is that Tybalt is dead and Romeo is banished, but it takes her forever to explain it so at first Juliet thinks Romeo is dead. As Juliet impatiently waits for night and Romeo’s visit, the Nurse arrives with news. What is her news?
She realizes that Tybalt would have killed Romeo if Romeo had not killed him. Juliet’s first reaction is to call Romeo vile names for killing Tybalt, but what is her second reaction?
Juliet has said that, with Romeo banished, she is going to go to her room and kill herself. Why does the Nurse, who is obviously fond of Tybalt, volunteer to go and get Romeo?
Romeo is hiding in Friar Lawrence’s cell, and Juliet wants to see him that night before he makes his exit from the city. The ring is to signify to Romeo that the message is from Juliet and that she doesn’t blame him for Tybalt’s death. Where is Romeo hiding, what seems to be Juliet’s plan, and why does she give the Nurse her ring?
He complains a great deal, for life outside of Verona without Juliet seems to be no life at all. How does Romeo react to the news that he has been banished?
He says, in effect, that the Friar has never felt passion so he cannot understand Romeo’s passion for Juliet and how his separation from her disturbs him. Why can’t the Friar, according to Romeo, truly understand Romeo’s feeling about Juliet and his banishment?
Romeo is not acting like a man, but acting like a woman or a beast. The Nurse arrives and informs the Friar and Romeo that Juliet, too, is crying just as Romeo is. Hearing of Juliet’s unhappiness and the hatred he supposes she feels toward him, he draws his knife to kill himself. What does he Friar accuse him of?
Juliet is alive; Tybalt did not kill Romeo; although death is ordinarily the penalty for fighting, the Prince has spared Romeo’s life by ordering banishment. For what things does the Friar say Romeo should be happy?
Romeo should stop complaining at fate, see Juliet, say his farewells, and then make his way to Mantua, where he should stay until the Friar can get a pardon for him from the Prince. What does the Friar tell him to do?
They think she is locking herself in his room because of the grief she feels over Tybalt’s death. In the conversation between Lord Capulet, his wife, and Paris, we learn that they have not yet spoken to Juliet about marrying Paris. What do they think is Juliet’s present cause of grief?
He believes that Juliet and Paris should get married on Thursday. The suggestion seems to be that marriage may help her out of her grief. What decision does Lord Capulet make, and why do you suppose he makes this decision?
Juliet asks Romeo if he is leaving early. He says it’s almost dawn, and he must be gone or he’ll be caught. She says that it’s not morning. He replies that he’ll stay. Then she says it’s almost dawn and Romeo must leave. What is happening in the interchange between Romeo and Juliet at the opening of this scene?
Juliet’s speech can be read so that it has two meanings. The second meaning, professing her love for Romeo, is known by the audience, but not the mother. The mother enters and, seeing Juliet weeping at Romeo’s departure, believes the weeping is for Tybalt. The mother then vents her own anger at Romeo and discloses her plan to have him found and poisoned. Why does Juliet appear to speak ill of Romeo?
Juliet is to marry Paris on Thursday. What news does Juliet’s mother bring that she hopes will cheer Juliet up?
Juliet states that she will not marry Paris. What is Juliet’s response to her mother about the impending marriage?
First he feels that she is ungrateful after he has set up the marriage. He also seems angry that Juliet questions a decision of his. Why does Lord Capulet get so angry when he hears of Juliet’s desire not to marry?
Capulet says that she should keep her mouth shut. When the Nurse tries to speak up for Juliet, what is she told?
Juliet threatens to kill herself. If forced to marry, what does Juliet threaten?
Juliet is so obstinate that her mother is finished with her. What is Lay Capulet’s response to Juliet’s threat?
She tells Juliet to forget Romeo and go ahead with the marriage to Paris. To the Nurse, a man is a man, and in all respects Paris is as good a man as Romeo, if not a better, man. The Nurse is very practical. What is the Nurse’s advice, and how can she give that advice knowing how Juliet feels?
Juliet is not going to confide in her any longer. When Juliet hears this opinion, what is her decision regarding the Nurse?
She wants to see if she can help her find a way out of the marriage to Paris. If he can’t, she plans to kill herself before the wedding. Juliet tells the Nurse she is going to Friar Lawrence to confess her sins. Why is she really going there?
She will do anything rather than marry Paris. If necessary she will kill herself before she is untrue to Romeo. What does Juliet tell the Friar after she leaves her house?
Juliet is to take a potion and drink it. This potion will make her appear to be dead. Then she will be carried to the burial crypt. There, Romeo and the Friar will await her awakening. Then she and Romeo will go to Mantua. What plan does the Friar set out?
Juliet has agreed to marry Paris, and she apologizes to her father for her willfulness. Why is Lord Capulet happy when Juliet comes back?
She will stab herself. If the potion does not work, what is Juliet’s plan?
The potion may very well be poison, and the Friar is saving his own honor by poisoning her. She concludes, though, that the Friar is a holy man and will never do anything like that. Juliet is a little fearful and a little suspicious, What suspicion about the Friar does she voice?
She worries what she will do if she wakes from the poison before Romeo gets there and she finds herself alone with all the bones and spirits. What worry next occupies her?
She claims he chases after other women. During the interchange between the Nurse, Lord Capulet, and his wife, what has his wife accused him of?
The people are preparing a wedding feast. What does all the action in the house indicate?
They are shocked. The mother says she will die too. The father feels a great loss. He says that instead of Paris for a son-in-law, he has gotten death. How do Juliet’s parents react to the news of her death?
Yes, there reaction to her death seems sincere. Does her parent’s grief seem sincere?
They can not keep her from death forever; they should dry their tears for now she is in heaven. How does the Friar try to comfort them?
After the sadness and weeping at Juliet’s death, the playwright introduces a lighter moment in which Peter berates and terrorizes the musicians. It provides a little relief from the somber action. The next section between Peter and the musicians seems to be for comic relief. How do you suppose the comic relief scene is supposed to function in the play?
Balthasar arrives and tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Like everyone else, Balthasar believes that Juliet is really dead. The Friar is supposed to send a messenger to Romeo informing him of the plan and Juliet’s fake death. But who arrives instead and what news does he give Romeo?
He finds a starving pharmacist and tempts him with forty pieces of gold. Although it is illegal to sell poisons in Mantua, how is Romeo able to purchase some?
Because of an outbreak of disease, Friar John is confined in a house that he has visited. Why is Friar John not able to go to Mantua and deliver Friar Lawrence’s message to Romeo?
He is going to the vault and break it open so he can he there when Juliet awakens. Then he’ll sneak her back to his cell and try to get another message to Romeo. What revision does Friar Lawrence make in his plan?
He is there to spread flowers and pay his last respects to Juliet. What is Paris doing at the crypt?
Romeo gives Balthasar a letter for his father and tells Balthasar to leave and not to come back. Balthasar, however, doesn’t leave because the look in Romeo’s eyes worries him. What does Romeo give to Balthasar, and what does he tell him to do? Why doesn’t Balthasar do it?
He compares the crypt with its dead bodies to the jaws of a monster. He says he plans on prying the jaws open and adding one more morsel of food to the jaws, his own dead body. What metaphor does Romeo create regarding the crypt , and what is his meaning?
Paris is going to arrest Romeo and bring him to the Prince. Although he has no wish to, Romeo fights and kills Paris because he is intent on finishing what he has come to do. Why do Paris and Romeo fight, since Romeo really has no wish to fight anyone?
Paris requests he be carried inside the tomb so her can die near Juliet. Romeo agrees to do this.? Although he has fatally wounded Paris, what act of compassion does he perform for Paris
A greater power than he can contradict, referring to God or Divine Providence, has controlled events. Who or what does the Friar say has thwarted all their plans?
He wants Juliet to leave the crypt with him, and he will hide her with some order of cloistered nuns. With everyone else dead, and Juliet supposedly dead, how does the Friar hope to resolve this mess?
He hears a noise and does not wish to be found there with all the dead bodies, so he runs off. When she refuses to leave, what does the Friar do?
She stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger. What does Juliet do?
She dies of grief when Romeo was banished. What has happened to Romeo’s mother?
The hatred between old Capulet and old Montague brings on all of the tragedy. Their hate kills Romeo, Juliet, and Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt. But because he does not stop it a deal forcefully with it when he should have, the Prince, too, feels guilty. With the death of his kinsmen, Mercutio and Count Paris, he too has been punished for his failure to act. The point that civil discord is ruinous and must not be tolerated is made very forcefully in this speech. The concluding lines state a major theme in this play. State what these lines mean and how they reflect the theme.