It has been referred to as the greatest love story of all time, or perhaps the most tragic. Romeo and Juliet serves to satisfy both anyway, which for a 1595 play has obviously stuck around for a very long time, which points to how good a book can turn out to be centuries after its author graced our good planet.
The story is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young “star-cross’d lovers” whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families.
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare employs several dramatic techniques that have garnered praise from critics; most notably the abrupt shifts from comedy to tragedy.
The Montagues and the Capulets, Verona’s two feuding noble houses, are constantly brawling and as a result the Prince of Verona issues an edict that will impose a death sentence on anyone caught dueling.
Romeo, a Montague is infatuated with Rosaline, a niece of Capulet. Rosaline is quickly forgotten, however, when Romeo and his friends disguise themselves and slip into a masque ball at Capulet’s house.
During the festivities, Romeo catches his first glimpse of Juliet, Capulet’s daughter. In one of Shakespeare’s most memorable scenes, Romeo steals into the garden and professes his love to Juliet, who stands above on her balcony.
The two young lovers, with the aid of Friar Laurence, make plans to be married in secret.
Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, tries to teach Romeo how to fight with a sword but Romeo avoids the duel because, he secretly knows that Tybalt is his relative.
Romeo’s best friend, Mercutio, takes up Tybalt’s challenge and dies, enraging Romeo who instead kills Tybalt.
Romeo is banished by the prince from Verona for violating his edict but consummates his secret marriage.
While Romeo is away, the Capulets unaware of the secret marriage try to marry off Juliet to Paris, a cousin to the Prince.
Juliet arranges with Friar Laurence who married them secretly to devise a desperate plan to avoid her parent’s wishes. She obtains a drug that makes her seem dead for forty-two hours.
Friar Laurence sends word to Romeo so that he can rescue her from her tomb. Unfortunately, Friar Laurence delays and word reaches Romeo that Juliet has died.
Romeo, grief-stricken decides to take poison and die by her tomb. Romeo finds Paris at Juliet’s tomb and kills him then enters the tomb and takes his poison.
The Montagues and Capulets, when faced with the terrible price that their feud has exacted, vow to put an end to the enmity between their two houses.
Shakespeare became the most famous playwright ever because of Romeo and Juliet and many of his other works. After hundreds of years many still pride in Shakespeare English.
It was among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays.
Today, the title characters of Romeo and Juliet are regarded as archetypal young lovers. Romeo and Juliet has been adopted numerous times for stage, film, musicals and opera.