Summary of Romeo and Juliet - A Classic Tale by William Shakespeare

 Romeo and Juliet Summary

Romeo and Juliet Summary

Romeo and Juliet is the eternal classic written by William Shakespeare.

The epic tale start with a feud between the servants of two noble and wealthy families, Capulet and Montague in the city of Verona, Italy.  Prince Escalus, the ruler of Verona, and the townspeople cannot cope with the constant fighting between two families so in order to avoid any conflicts in the future the Prince declares that any individual who disturbs the peace of the city will be killed.

Romeo, the son of Montague, runs into Benvolio, his cousin, and confides in him about Rosaline, a woman who does not return his affections. Benvolio tries to counsel him and advise him to forget this woman and find another one. Meanwhile, Count Paris, a kinsman of the Prince, seeks Juliet’s hand in marriage. Though Juliet’s father, happy at the match, asks Paris to wait two years since Juliet is not yet even fourteen.


Romeo and Benvolio, still discussing Rosaline, encounter the Capulet servant bearing the list of invitations for a masquerade ball and feast. Benvolio suggests that they should attend the ball since that will allow Romeo to compare his beloved to other beautiful women of Verona. Romeo agrees to go, but only because Rosaline, whose name he reads on the list, will be there.

Romeo Montague along with his friends gatecrash a masked ball of the Capulets where he meets Juliet Capulet. He falls in love with her instantly and forgets about Rosaline completely. As Romeo watches Juliet, Tybalt, a rash Capulet recognizes him and is enraged that a Montague would sneak into a Capulet feast. He prepares to attack him, but Capulet holds him back. Soon, Romeo speaks to Juliet, and the two experience a profound attraction toward each other. They even kiss, without knowing each other’s identities. They are shocked and equally upset to discover that their families are sworn, enemies.

They profess their love to each other when Romeo, unwilling to leave the Capulet estate, climbs the wall into the orchard garden of her family’s house and finds her alone at her window. They exchanged vows of love. Romeo visits his friend and confessor Friar Lawrence, who, though was shocked at the sudden transformation of Romeo’s heart, agrees to marry the young lovers in secret. The following day, Romeo and Juliet meet at Friar Lawrence’s cell and get married. The Nurse, who is in the know about the secret marriage, procures a ladder so that Romeo could climb into Juliet’s window for their wedding night.

Romeo goes to celebrate his marriage with his best friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, but somehow gets into a fight with Juliet's cousin, Tybalt Capulet, who is still enraged that Romeo attended Capulet’s feast. Romeo tries to hold off the duel but his friends and Tybalt was not listening to his plea for peace. Romeo tries to stop them, but Tybalt kills Mercutio in an ensuing scuffle. Impelled by a code of honor among men, Romeo avenges his friends’ death by killing Tybalt. Romeo flees from the scene. Upon which the Prince of Verona declares him forever banished from Verona. Friar Lawrence arranges for Romeo to spend his wedding night with Juliet before he has to leave for Mantua the following day.

Juliet awaits the arrival of her new husband in her room when the nurse tells her that Romeo has killed Tybalt. This leaves Juliet heartbroken as she finds herself married to a man who has killed her kinsman. But she realizes that her duty belongs to her husband now. At the night, Romeo, with the help of the ladder, sneaks into Juliet’s room and they consummate their marriage. The next morning, the lovers bid farewell unaware of when they will see each other again. Juliet learns that Capulet, who was unaware of her daughter’s secret marriage, decides she should marry Count Paris in just three days because of the recent events. Unsure of what to do, Juliet asks her nurse for advice. She counsels Juliet to proceed with the marriage. Disgusted with the Nurse’s disloyalty, Juliet refuses and in desperation seeks out Friar Laurence for assistance, where they come up with a plan for Romeo and Juliet to be together forever.

According to the plan, the night before her wedding to Paris, Juliet must drink a potion that will make her appear to be dead. After she is laid to rest in the family’s crypt, Romeo along with Friar will secretly rescue her from there, and she will be free to live with Romeo.

She agrees to do the same. Juliet returns home to discover the wedding has been preponed, and she is to be married the next day. That night, Juliet drinks the potion to fake her death. The Capulets grieve the death of her daughter, and Juliet is entombed exactly according to plan. Romeo doesn't receive the letter from Friar and was unaware of the plan, so when he returns to Verna thinks that Juliet has actually died. Seeing his lover dead, Romeo decides to kill himself rather than live without her. He buys a vial of poison and speeds back to Verona to take his own life at Juliet’s tomb. Outside the crypt, Romeo encounters a grieving Paris, who was scattering flowers on Juliet’s tomb. They start fighting and reluctantly kill him as Paris was trying to prevent Romeo from entering the tomb, and finds Juliet in the burial vault. 

Upon seeing Juliet in her tomb, 'dead', Romeo gives her a last kiss and kills himself by drinking poison, so he can be with her in death. Just then, Friar Lawrence enters the tomb and realizes that Romeo has killed Paris and himself. At the same time, Juliet wakes up and sees that Romeo is dead. Juliet kisses his poisoned lips, and when that does not kill her, she kills herself with his dagger falling dead upon his body. The families of Capulet and Montague learn what has happened and vow to end their feud and live peacefully.