Romeo and Juliet Vocabulary

Tragedy Features a tragic hero who suffers from a tragic flaw (e.g. hamartia), which leads to his downfall. Fate contributes to this downfall. Many characters other than the tragic hero die in the play as well.
Hamartia Tragic heroes make fatal errors in judgment that contribute to their downfall. This flaw is often an admirable quality that is excessive (such as a loving temperament or sensitivity).
Catharsis A healthy purging of emotion.
Foil Two characters who have many things in common but at least one major difference, which serves to emphasize each other.
Prologue Introduces a play or other literary work.
Soliloquy A long speech in which a character reveals his thoughts to the audience but not to other characters (a lengthy type of aside).
Monologue An extended uninterrupted speech by a character in a drama.
Aside When an actor speaks to the audience (either directly or as a voiced thought) and the other present characters cannot hear.
Pun Using a word that sounds like another word but has a different meaning.
Malapropism A type of pun that employs the use of a ridiculous or inappropriate word in place of a similar sounding one.
Oxymoron Combining contradictory words to create a new idea (a form of paradox)
Paradox A statement that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies logic.
Apostrophe When a character addresses a thing or idea as though it were a person or when a character talks to a character who is not present.
Shakespearean sonnet Poetic form composed of 14 lines divided into three quatrains (four-line stanzas) and one rhyming couplet (two-line stanza) with a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG; Written in iambi pentameter.
Romeo Son of Montague and Lady Montague; Friend of Mercutio, Benvolio, and Friar Lawrence; Marries Juliet in secret; Kills Tybalt for killing Mercutio and is banished from Verona; Drinks poison believing Juliet is dead.
Juliet Daughter of Capulet and Lady Capulet; Cousin of Tybalt; Marries Romeo in secret; Friar Lawrence gives her a potion that fakes her death so that she can run away to Mantua with Romeo; Stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger when she sees he’s poisoned himself.
Tybalt Nephew of Capulet; Cousin of Juliet; Easily insulted and hot-tempered; Called “The Prince of Cats” by Mercutio and Benvolio because of his aloofness and arrogance and snobbish refinement (sort of like a cat); Trained swordsman; Knowledgeable in rules of honor and dueling; Kills Mercutio and is killed by Romeo.
Mercutio Romeo’s witty friend; Likes to joke around; Represents realism; Doesn’t belong in the play; “Fights” Tybalt after Tybalt insults Romeo’s offering of peace; Is stabbed by Tybalt when Romeo tries to break up the fight; Curses both Montagues and Capulets as he dies.
Benvolio Cousin of Romeo; Peace-loving; Tries to break up the fight at the beginning; Tries to stop Mercutio from fighting Tybalt; Trusted by Prince Escalus.
Lord Capulet Father of Juliet; Uncle of Tybalt; Hates Montague; Cares for his daughter’s well-being until Juliet refuses to marry Count Paris, so he threatens to disown his daughter if she does not marry Paris.
Lady Capulet Mother of Juliet; Aunt of Tybalt; Loves Tybalt and hates Romeo for killing him; Threatens to disown her daughter if she does not marry Paris.
Lord Montague Father of Romeo; Uncle of Benvolio; Hates Capulet.
Lady Montague Mother of Romeo; Aunt of Benvolio; Has very few lines.
The Nurse Juliet’s nursemaid and closest friend; Bawdy and irreverent at times; Somewhat batty and uncouth; Helps Juliet marry Romeo in secret; Advises Juliet to marry Count Paris after Romeo is banished.
Friar Lawrence Catholic priest and close friend of Romeo; Acts as Romeo’s advisor; Dabbles in herbal medicine; Marries Romeo and Juliet in secret in hopes that it will end the feud; Concocts the plan for Juliet to fake her death so that Romeo can run away with her to Mantua; Mixes the potion that Juliet drinks to fake her death; Writes a letter to Romeo of the plan, but the letter never arrives; At the end, explains to the other characters all the secret events that lead to the death of Romeo and Juliet.
Count Paris Wealthy young noble; Related to Prince Escalus; Desires to marry Juliet and is given permission by Capulet; A likeable and handsome man; Killed by Romeo when he tries to arrest Romeo for breaking into Juliet’s tomb.
Prince Escalus Prince of Verona; Related to both Mercutio and Count Paris; Represents civil justice and righteousness; Decrees that any Montague or Capulet caught fighting will be executed; Banishes Romeo after Romeo kills Tybalt.