Introduction to Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

The play has been highly praised by literary critics for its language and dramatic effect. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime, and most frequently performed plays.

Romeo a Montague, who is in love with Rosaline, goes to a party in an effort to forget her and to ease his broken heart. At this party he met Juliet, and immediately fell in love with her. He later finds out that she is a Capulet, the rival family of the Montagues. He decides that he loves her anyway and they confess their love for each other during the very famous "balcony scene" in which they agree to secretly marry the next day. Friar Lawrence agrees to marry them in an effort to end the feuding between the families. Unfortunately, the fighting gets worse and Mercutio a Montague , a good friend of Romeo's, ends up in a fight with Tybalt a Capulet, Juliet's cousin. Tybalt kills Mercutio, which causes Romeo to kill Tybalt in an angry rage. For this, Romeo is banished from Verona. Read more to find out what will happen next!

Exposition - The exposition starts with the prologue and the first fight setting the stage and the mood of the rivaling families. The prologue states that these two families have been feuding for a long time and that two lovers will die because of it. The fight shows the extent of the feud.

Initial incident - The first incident that set the story moving happened at the party. Romeo meets Juliet and falls in love with her at first sight.

Rising action - The action starts to rise greatly at the balcony scene where each profess their love for each other. They decide to get married and plan it out. The rising action continues through the marriage, and the separation.

Climax - The climax is the inacting of the father’s plan. Juliet pretends to be dead, and Romeo does not know it and commits suicide.

Falling action - The action begins to fall after Juliet commits suicide after finding Romeo dead. It continues as both families find their children dead.

Denouement - Escalus tells everyone that the deaths are the result of their feuds and everyone feels guilty.


The play takes place in Verona, Northern Italy during Shakespeare’s time, around the 1500’s. ince the play was performed long ago in a simple open theater, backdrops were not used and there were only a few props. Most of the scenery had to be imagined by the audience. There is also some scenes in Mantua.


Poison- In Act II, scene ii, Friar Lawrence remarks that every plant, herb, and stone has its own special properties, and that nothing exists in nature that cannot be put to both good and bad uses. So poison is not evil it self, it is the way people use it that can be evil. The sleeping potion gives Juliet an appearance of death, but that was to help Juliet fake her death so she can be reunited with Romeo. Romeo’s suicide is caused by poison because he thought Juliet was actually dead. This story does not have a true evil person, but the bad actions of the good people.

Stars- The stars, which shed the light of love, also hold the lovers' destiny. People back than believed the stars held the destinies of souls, and it played a big role in the play.

Thumb-biting- In Act I, scene I, Samson begins a brawl between the Montagues and Capulets by flicking his thumbnail from behind his upper teeth, an insulting gesture known as biting the thumb. This is essentially meaningless gesture, represents the foolishness of the entire Capulet/Montague feud and the stupidity of violence in general.

Queen Mab- In Act I, scene IV, Mercutio delivers a dazzling speech about the fairy Queen Mab, who rides through the night on her tiny wagon bringing dreams to sleepers. Then she haunts their dreams by making the person dream of what they want and cannot have. This applies to the whole stories and foreshadows future events.


Love: The greatest theme in this play is that of love. In Romeo and Juliet, love is a violent, ecstatic, overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties, and emotions. Love in Romeo and Juliet is a brutal, powerful emotion that captures individuals and catapults them against their world, and, at times, against themselves.

Speed: Almost everything happens very quickly, and the characters often mention the speed of events. The haste of Romeo's and Juliet's loves ends in a great tragedy which could have been avoided.

The Feud between the families: The first words of the play speak of the feud's disruption of civic order, and the play ends with the end of the feud and the restoration of civic order.

Youth and Age: In Shakespeare's source, Juliet was sixteen. Shakespeare reduces her age to thirteen and repeatedly emphasizes the differences between the old and young.

Name: Juliet says, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," but others seem to think that the name of something is all that matters. The biggest reason Romeo’s and Juliet’s love is a forbidden one is because their family names hate each other

Important Quotes

O Romeo, Romeo,
wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Juliet speaks these lines on the famous balcony scene, unaware Romeo is there, she asks why Romeo must be a Montague, and that she will defy her family to be with him.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she. . . .
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars
As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.

This quote comes from the famous balcony scene. Romeo confesses Juliet's beauty to her, and tells how her beauty make the moon look sick, and how beautiful she is.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife. . . .
O, I am fortune’s fool! . . .
Then I defy you, stars.

The chorus explains how Romeo and Juliet are "star-crossed" lovers. Romeo says this when he hears of Juliet's death, and he declares himself opposed to the destiny that has caused this tragic event.

O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you. . . .
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomi
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep.

This is part of Mercutio's famous Qeen Mab speech, it is important because of the quality of the poetry, and it has some interesting themes to it. Mercutio is trying to convince Romeo to forget about Rosaline and come along to Capulet's feast. He explains about Queen Mab, and how dreams will be destructive.

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man.

Juliet does some reflecting here on her present situation. She knows that she should not love a Montegue due to the feud, but also recognizes that the feud is nothing and that names mean nothing about the person.
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