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Romeo and Juliet

Generalities
Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare early in his career; although we
don't know any exact dates surrounding the actual writing of the play, we can say for sure
that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet after 1593 and before 1596.
But we know when it was published: the First Quarto, which was likely an unauthorized
incomplete edition, in 1597; the Second Quarto, which was authorized), in 1599.
The story is set in the thirteenth or fourteenth century in two Italian cities: Verona and Mantua,
but much of the action takes place in Juliets house.
It is a tragedy, so...

Plot
On a hot morning fighting by young servants of the Capulet and Montague families is stopped
by the Prince who tells them that the next person who breaks the peace will be punished with
death.
Capulet plans a feast to introduce his daughter, Juliet, who is almost fourteen, to the Count
Paris who would like to marry her. By a mistake of the illiterate servant Peter, Montagues son,
Romeo, and his friends Benvolio and the Princes cousin Mercutio, hear of the party and
decide to go in disguise. Romeo hopes he will see his adored Rosaline but instead he meets
and falls in love with Juliet.
Juliets cousin Tybalt recognises the Montagues and they are forced to leave the party just as
Romeo and Juliet have each discovered the others identity. Romeo lingers near the Capulets
house and talks to Juliet when she appears on her balcony. With the help of Juliets Nurse the
lovers arrange to meet next day at the cell of Friar Lawrence when Juliet goes for confession,
and they are married by him.
Tybalt picks a quarrel with Mercutio and his friends and Mercutio is accidentally killed as
Romeo intervenes to try to break up the fight. Romeo pursues Tybalt in anger, kills him and
hes banished by the Prince for the deed. Juliet is anxious that Romeo is late meeting her and
learns of the fighting from her Nurse. With Friar Lawrences help it is arranged that Romeo will
spend the night with Juliet before taking refuge at Mantua.

To calm the familys sorrow at Tybalts death the day for the marriage of Juliet to Paris is
brought forward. Capulet and his wife are angry that Juliet does not wish to marry Paris, not
knowing of her secret contract with Romeo.
Friar Lawrence helps Juliet by providing a sleeping potion that will make everyone think shes
dead. Romeo will then come to her tomb and take her away. When the wedding party arrives
to greet Juliet next day they think she is dead. The Friar sends a colleague to warn Romeo to
come to the Capulets family monument to rescue his sleeping wife but the message doesnt
get through and Romeo, hearing instead that Juliet is dead, buys poison in Mantua.
He returns to Verona and goes to the tomb where he surprises and kills the mourning Paris.
Romeo takes the poison and dies just as Juliet awakes from her drugged sleep. She learns
what has happened from Friar Lawrence but she refuses to leave the tomb and stabs herself
as the Friar returns with the Prince, the Capulets and Romeos father. The deaths of their
children lead the families to make peace, promising to erect a monument in their memory.
House of Capulet
The Capulet family is often portrayed as the 'bad' side, as much of the conflict is caused by them.
They are also more developed, since more attention is given to their family life.
Lord Capulet
Capulet is the patriarch of the Capulet family, the father of Juliet, and uncle of Tybalt. He is very
wealthy. He is sometimes commanding but also convivial, as at the ball: when Tybalt tries to incite
a duel with Romeo, Capulet tries to calm him and then threatens to throw him out of the family.
Lady Capulet

Capulet's wife is the matriarch of the house of Capulet and Juliet's mother. She plays a larger role
than Montague's wife, appearing in several scenes.

Juliet
Juliet Capulet is the female protagonist in the tragedy. Juliet is the only daughter of the patriarch of
the House of Capulet and she is courted by a potential husband named Count Paris. Nevertheless,
she falls in love with Romeo, a member of the House of Montague (with which the Capulets have a
blood feud). As a child she was cared for by a Nurse, who is now her confidante. Juliet dies at the
end of the play, and the sacred lovers are reunited on the same deathbed.
Shakespeare's Juliet is a headstrong and intelligent character in spite of her young age, though
she often seems timid to the audience because of her young age. She is considered by many to be
the true hero of the play, acting as a balance against the impulsive Romeo. It is Juliet who sets the
boundaries of behavior in her relationship with Romeo: she allows him to kiss her, she pledges her
commitment before him, and it is she who suggests their marriage. Juliet's forgiveness of Romeo
after he kills Tybalt indicates her mature nature in contrast to his passionate impulsiveness.
Furthermore, Juliet lies and clandestinely subverts her family's wishes, a truly rebellious action
against traditional Italian society. These actions establish Juliet as a far more complex character
than her family, or even Romeo.

Nurse

The Nurse is the personal servant, guardian of Juliet Capulet, and has been since Juliet was born,
so she is therefore Juliet's foremost confidante.
She is one of the few people, along with Friar Laurence, to be made aware of the romance
between Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is considered to be her surrogate daughter in many respects
because she raised Juliet in Lady Capulet's absence.

Tybalt

Tybalt is the son of Lady Capulet's brother and Juliet's hot-headed first cousin. As a skilled
swordsman, he serves as the story's principal antagonist character. Tybalt is angered by the insult
of Romeo and Benvolio's uninvited presence at the ball in the Capulets' home.
His last appearance is in act 3 where Mercutio insults Tybalt and ends up fighting with him. Tybalt
kills Mercutio and, in retaliation, Romeo rages and kills Tybalt, resulting in Romeo's banishment.

Escalus
Prince Escalus

Prince Escalus, the Prince of Verona, was the desperate resolver of the feuding families.. He was
the administer of justice in the city, and followed major events in the feud between the Capulet and
Montague families. He appeared in the scene 3 times: firstable he stopped the quarrel between
Tybalt and Benvolio; the second times he came to stop the fatal brawl between Tybalt and
Mercutio and then between Romeo and Tybalt, ended with the banishment of Romeo from Verona
cause he was trying to kill Tybalt; he came another time to assist to the double suicide of the two
lovers (Romeo & Juliet). His character is based on the actual Scaligeri family which ruled Verona,
maybe on Bartolomeo I.

Count Paris
He is a kinsman of Prince Escalus, and the suitor of Juliet, an handsome and wealthy man. From
the beginning he expresses his wish to marry the young Capulet, but her father did not agree, and
neither she did, cause of her youth (she was only 14). For this Paris pretended to kill herself. At
his tomb he saw Romeo, and he thought he was vandalising his tomb; so started a conflict ended
with the death of Paris.
Mercutio
He is the cousin of Prince Escalus and Count Paris, friend of Romeo and his cousin Benvolio. He
is usually thought to be reckless, a jester, and a free spirit. He is an ally of the Montagues, like
them he hates against the Capulets. He is one of the most popular shakespeares characters, and
the one that makes more and longer speeches (the most famous is the one with Queen Mab, a
little refined creature, that bring sleepy people to dreams). In the play he has a brother called
Valentine, and a page, like Paris.

House of Montague
The Montague family (in Italian, "Montecchi") was an actual political faction of the 13th century.
The Montagues are generally portrayed as the 'better' of the two families, as they are not seen to
be provoking fights and are often found trying to avoid fighting whenever they could, and
occasionally found trying to dissuade the fighters to return to peace.
Lord Montague
The father of Romeo. Presumably, he is also wealthy, and is always in feud with Capulet.
Montague clearly loves his son deeply and at the beginning of the play, worries for him as he
recounts to Benvolio his attempts to find out the source of his depression. He wishes Benvolio
better luck. After Romeo kills Tybalt, Montague pleads with the Prince to spare him of execution as
Romeo did only what the law would have done, since Tybalt killed Mercutio. He appears again at
the end of the play to mourn Romeo, having already lost his wife to grief.

Lady Montague
Montague's wife is the matriarch of the house of Montague, and the mother of Romeo and aunt of
Benvolio. She appears twice within the play: in act one, scene one she first restrains Montague
from entering the quarrel himself, and later speaks with Benvolio about the same quarrel. She
returns with her husband and the Prince in act three, scene one to see what the trouble is, and is
there informed of Romeo's banishment. She dies of grief offstage soon after (mentioned in act
five). She is very protective of her son Romeo and is very happy when Benvolio tells her that
Romeo was not involved in the brawl that happened between the Capulets and Montagues. As
with Capulet's wife, calling her "Lady Montague" is a later invention not supported by the earliest
texts.

Friar Laurence
Friar Laurence is a friar who plays the part of a wise advisor to Romeo and Juliet, along with aiding
in major plot developments.
Alone, he foreshadows the later, tragic events of the play with his soliloquy about plants and their
similarities to humans. When Romeo requests the Friar marry him to Juliet, he is shocked,
because only days before, Romeo had been infatuated with Rosaline, a woman who did not return
his love. Nevertheless, Friar Laurence decides to marry Romeo and Juliet in the attempt to stop
the civil feud between the Capulets and the Montagues.
When Romeo is banished for killing Tybalt and flees to Mantua, Friar Laurence tries to help the two
lovers get back together using a potion to fake Juliet's death. The friar sends a letter to Romeo
explaining the situation, but it does not reach him because the people of Mantua suspect the
messenger came from a house infected with the plague, and the Friar is unable to arrive at the
Capulet's monument in time.

Themes
Love
A forcefulness power, a kind of magic, romantic and violent at the same time. In the play the love
between Romeo and Juliet was so powerful that made them fall in love even though they were in
different rivals households.
Fate
From the beginning, in the prologue, Romeo and Juliet are defined as star-crossed lovers, so we
can see how the love between them is in opposition to the decrees of destiny. In the play we can
see better the fate in place in the horrible series of accidents that ruin Friar Lawrences seemingly
well-intentioned plans at the end of the play, and in the perfect timing of the suicide of Romeo, just
when Juliet awoke.

Misunderstanding
Especially between Romeo and juliet theres not a good communication, so
incomprehensions often arise, just like in the end, when Juliet pretended to be dead, while she
was sleeping.
Woman
In the play we can see how much did women count in the middle age, very little. In fact Juliet
was forced to marry Paris, because was her father to decide it, and she, and neither her
mother, couldnt make anything else.

Different points of view


There are in the play a lot of speeches, the most of Mercutio, that make us see everything
things in different ways, like the love of Romeo, a romantic love or a blindness, or the devotion
of honor of Tybalt, seen as a senseless thing.

Famous quotations
What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other word would smell as sweet.

(2.2.45-6), Juliet

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

(2.2.35), Juliet