William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet opens with the prologue which explains the entire play which basically explains that the play is set in the beautiful Italian city of Verona, an ancient feud between two families of the same social standard erupts into new violence, and the inhabitants of the city get their hands stained with the blood of their fellow citizens. Two star-crossed lovers of the enemy families fall in love and take their lives. Their unfortunate deaths put an end the feud and for the next two hours, we will watch the story of their doomed love caused by their parent’s fury, which nothing but the death of their children could stop. If you listen carefully, it will make up for what is left out of the prologue.
In the first scene of Romeo and Juliet, we are shown an example of the feud between the two families, with servants of the Montague and Capulet houses having a street brawl that ends in the family patriarchs and city officials being dragged in and having to deal with the consequences. Montague and lady Montague In this scene, we meet Prince Escalus who ends the conflict between the servants and issuing a decree that prohibits any further fighting between the two families with the risk of being exiled.
Later that day Capulet meets with the County Paris, who wishes to marry his daughter, Juliet. The two discuss Paris’s desire to marry Juliet. Capulet is overjoyed, but also states that he does not wish for his daughter to marry so young and that she is not yet 14 years old. He asks County Paris to wait two years and then they will arrange a marriage. He assures County Paris that he is his chosen suitor for his daughter and invites Paris to a masquerade feast that he is holding that night so that he may begin to earn Juliet’s love and win her heart. Capulet dispatches a servant, Peter, with a list of invitees for his traditional feast. As Capulet and County Paris walk away, Peter states that he cannot read and will suffer the difficulty of pursuing this task.
Meanwhile, Romeo Montague expresses passionate grief over his one love, Rosaline to his cousin Benvolio. Benvolio tries to convince Romeo to forget about his love and move on. There the two companions run into Peter, a servant of Capulet who happens to be carrying a list of invitees to Capulets old accustomed feast. Peter asks them to read it for him as he is illiterate and Romeo sees that Rosaline’s name is one of those on the list. Before departing, Peter, invites the two of them to the feast as long, assuming that they are not Montagues. Benvolio tells Romeo that going to the feast will be the perfect opportunity for Romeo to compare Rosaline to the other beautiful women of Verona. Romeo agrees to go with Benvolio, but only because Rosaline herself will be there.
Back in Capulet’s house, just before the feast has begun, Lady Capulet calls to the nurse asking her to find Juliet. Lady Capulet is already aware of County Paris’s proposal to Juliet. Juliet enters and Lady Capulet dismisses the Nurse so that she can talk privately to her daughter. Lady Capulet immediately changes her mind and asks the Nurse to stay so that she can be her counsel. Before Lady Capulet can speak the Nurse immediately begins to tell a long story about how as a young child Juliet was raised by her. Lady Capulet asks Juliet what she thinks about marrying Paris, and she replies saying that she has not yet given it any thought. Lady Capulet mentions how she gave birth to Juliet when she was around Juliet’s current age. She continues that Juliet must begin to consider the marriage to the “valiant Paris” and to read him like a book. Obediently Juliet replies that she will look upon Paris and see if she can learn to love him. A servingman comes to fetch Lady Capulet saying that the feast has begun.
Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio, all wearing masks are gathered outside of Capulets house beside the orchard. Romeo wonders how the will enter the feast as Montagues. After Romeo’s concern is set aside he states that he will not dance at the feast over his grief of Rosaline. Mercutio begins to mock Romeo turning his statements of love into metaphors. Romeo refuses to contribute to the conversation and begins to tell his companions about a dream he had, where attending the feast is a bad idea that will end in his untimely death. Mercutio responds to Romeo’s statement by saying a long speech about dreams being the children of an idle brain. Eventually, Romeo steps in to calm Mercutio down after his speech became more intense. Benvolio turns the conversation to getting to the feast on time. Romeo adds one last statement to the conversation, saying that the nights’ events will lead to his death and set into motion his fate “He who hath the steerage of my course”. By using the capital H in “he” Romeo is most likely referring to God and his religion.
In the great hall of the Capulet household, servants are rushing around keeping the feast in order while Capulet makes his rounds around the room, greeting guests and encouraging everyone to dance. As Romeo enters the hall with his companions he sees Juliet from across the room. Romeo asks a nearby servingman if he knows who she is and he replies that he does not. All of Romeo’s love and grief over Rosaline suddenly vanishes and he claims that he has never been in love until this moment. While Tybalt moves through the crowd he hears and recognizes Romeo’s voice, he sends a servant to fetch his weapon and devises a plan to kill Romeo. Capulet hears Tybalt’s rage towards Romeo and reprimands him, stating that Romeo is a well regarded young man in Verona and to leave him alone. Tybalt has been ridiculed by Capulet after being told that he will not have anyone harmed at his feast. After Capulet leaves Tybalt’s presence he states that he will not let this indignity pass. Meanwhile, Romeo approaches Juliet and they have a conversation using religious metaphors saying that Romeo is a pilgrim and Juliet is a saint. Romeo tries to persuade Juliet to kiss him. After several attempts, Juliet agrees to stay still while Romeo kisses her. The two protagonists kiss again, just after their second kiss ends the Nurse appears and tells Juliet that her mother would like to have a word with her. As Juliet leaves to go and find her mother, Romeo asks the Nurse who Juliet’s mother is. The Nurse replies saying that Juliet’s mother is Lady Capulet. Romeo is devastated that he is in love with the daughter of his fathers enemy. As the crowd begins to disperse, Benvolio leads Romeo away from the party. In order to find out Romeo’s identity without raising any suspicions, she asks the Nurse to identify a series of young men. The Nurse goes off and returns with the news that the man’s name is Romeo, and that he is a Montague.
The second prologue involves the Chorus delivering a short sonnet about Romeo and Juliet’s newfound love for each other and how the feud between the two families making it difficult for the love to unfold. But the passion that the two protagonists share for each other eliminates all other odds.
It is late Sunday night and Romeo has now left the feast, he has decided that he can not possibly leave the feast without seeing Juliet again. Romeo leaves the presence of Benvolio and Mercutio in search of Juliet. Mercutio goes after Romeo in search of Romeo, Romeo decides to not make an appearance and instead chooses to hide from his two accomplices while they mock his love for Rosaline. Eventually, Mercutio and Benvolio flee the scene and leave Romeo on his own in Capulet’s orchard. Juliet appears on the balcony above Romeo, he compares her to the rising sun far more beautiful than the moon it banishes. He is about to speak out to her but decides not to. Juliet, reflecting in deep thought does not notice Romeo in the orchard and asks herself why Romeo must be a Montague, an enemy of her family. She says that she would give up her Capulet name if he would swear that he loves her. Romeo responds to her request, startling Juliet as she thought that she was alone with her thoughts. Juliet wonders how Romeo found her and how what her family would punish him if they caught him in the orchard, she worries that he will be killed if found outside her balcony, Romeos refuses to leave, saying that he does not care if found, claiming that Juliet’s love would repel his enemies. Juliet confesses that he love for Romeo is as strong as his for her, but worries that there is a possibility that his love for her may be proven false or that she is too easily won over. Juliet’s Nurse calls for her and she leaves for a moment then reappears telling Romeo that she will send someone to him tomorrow to seek news of his intentions to marry her. The two protagonists agree that at nine in the morning Juliet will send her representative to call on him. Juliet disappears into her bedroom while Romeo leaves the Capulet orchard in search of Friar Lawrence to arrange plans for his marriage to Juliet.
Early Monday morning, Romeo arrives at Friar Lawrence’s cell to arrange plans for his secret marriage to Juliet, the young daughter of rich Capulet. Friar Lawrence first arrives carrying a basket of various weeds and herbs with medicinal properties. Not noticing Romeo enter, he talks to himself, demonstrating his wide knowledge of plants and their medicinal purposes. Once the Friar realises that Romeo has entered, he predicts that Romeo has not slept the night before. Romeo explains to the Friar that he is no longer in love with Rosaline and expresses his new found love for Juliet, his intentions of marrying her and insists that the Friar marry them that very day. Friar Lawrence is astonished at how Romeo moved on from Rosaline to Juliet so quickly. Responding to Romeo’s declaration of love, the Friar agrees nonetheless to marry the two protagonists that afternoon, although, he is still sceptical about Romeo’s sudden change of heart. The Friar expresses his hope that the marriage will end the feud and rivalry between the two families.
Benvolio and Mercutio are on a street in Verona talking about Tybalt’s letter that was sent to the house of Montague, threatening Romeo. Mercutio and Benvolio still don’t know that Romeo has gotten over Rosaline and is going to marry Juliet that afternoon. Romeo finds Mercutio and Benvolio in the street talking about him. Mercutio and himself have a long conversation in which they mock each other until Benvolio interrupts and they are joined by Juliet’s Nurse and Peter. The Nurse is looking for Romeo on behalf of Juliet wanting to collect the news of her marriage arrangement. The Nurse tells Romeo that he is not to cheat on Juliet as she is only a young woman and that County Paris already has his claims made on her. Romeo tells the Nurse that Juliet needs to find an excuse to come to confession that afternoon as she will be married to him in Friar Lawrence’s church. The Nurse hurries along with Peter to go and deliver the good news to Juliet of marriage.