365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

256. Plot summary: “Romeo and Juliet”

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There are few romances in the world that are better known than “Romeo and Juliet”. Their renown far surpasses any of the turbulent celebrity marriages we find ourselves fascinated with these days. With these two lovers, Shakespeare created a tragic love, the story of which has been handed down the ages and beloved for centuries.

“Romeo and Juliet” begins with a brawl on the streets of Verona, Italy, setting the tone of strife between the two main families: Capulet and Montague. We meet Juliet Capulet, a beautiful young girl who has just become betrothed to a man called Paris, and Romeo Montague, a young man pining over a girl called Rosaline. To cheer up the unrequited Romeo, his friend entices him to gate-crash at the feast of the Capulets, a masked ball.

It is here that Romeo meets Juliet and cannot help putting Rosaline asunder in an instant. Her beauty draws him, and she is equally attracted to him. It takes no time at all for them to fall in love with each other, and that very night they vow to be married to each other in the famous balcony scene. They are, indeed, married shortly thereafter, and it seems that perhaps somehow they can escape a tragic fate.

But they cannot. Tybalt, a villainous Capulet, strikes up a battle with Romeo, in which his friend Mercutio ends up murdered. Romeo, blinded by anger, kills Tybalt and is banished for his actions. Juliet is devastated to find that her cousin is dead, her husband the slayer and banished for the crime. She is also being forced by her father to marry Paris, or else face being abandoned by the family. She concocts a plan: she will drink a potion that will cause her to appear dead, then be entombed. Romeo will be told where to find her, and when she wakes, they will be free to be together.

However, through unfortunate miscommunication, Romeo never hears that it is all a ruse. He only learns that Juliet is dead. Overwhelmed by grief, Romeo buys a dram of poison and goes to Juliet’s side. He embraces her one last time, then drinks the poison and dies. Juliet’s potion wears off almost immediately after, and she wakes to find him dead by her side. She takes Romeo’s dagger and stabs herself, dying beside him.

Romeo and Juliet’s families discover the dead children, and though they decide to put their strife asunder, it is too little, too late for the young lovers.


Written by Caroline Mincks

June 14, 2010 at 8:59 PM

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