Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Synopsis of Romeo and Juliet

The play opens with a brawl between two rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues. The town authority, Escalus, breaks up the fight and threatens death for anyone “who disturbs our streets”.

A great celebration is being planned by the Capulets to which everyone in the town is invited, except the Montagues. The primary reason for the party is to introduce their soon-to-be marriageable daughter, Juliet to an influential young lord in the town, Paris. The Montague lads, Romeo and his cousin, Benvolio along with their friend Mercutio, decide to attend in disguise.

From the moment Romeo sees Juliet from across the room, he is enchanted with her. He woos her with sweet words to such an effect that Paris is immediately forgotten, and Juliet only has eyes for the strange young man. Though Juliet’s cousin Tybalt notices the presence of an enemy, Capulet heeds the warning of the authorities and the party comes to an end without a fight. Romeo sneaks back into the garden, where he hears Juliet talking to herself about the danger of loving an enemy. Their overwhelming attraction for one another with all the passion of the young, results in the exchange of vows of love and a plan to marry in secret the very next day.

Romeo confesses his love to Father Lawrence and begs him to marry them. Father Lawrence consents when he considers that the marriage might end the feud between the families and bring peace to the town. The two lovers are married and go their separate ways, until they may be together in the secret of the night. However, in the meantime, Tybalt attempts to pick a fight with Romeo. Romeo refuses on the grounds of his secret love, but Mercutio takes up his sword to return Tybalt’s insult. Mercutio is killed and Romeo, enraged at the death of his friend, kills Tybalt and is banished by Escalus.

Romeo and Juliet have one night of wonderment as they explore their new found love, before Romeo must flee the city. The strength of their love for one another transcends the uncertain future, yet a shadow hovers over them.

Unaware of this secret marriage, the Capulets go ahead with their plans for Juliet to wed Paris. In a panic, fueled to almost suicidal proportions by her young passionate nature, Juliet goes to Father Lawrence for help. He gives her a sleeping potion that will make her appear “as though dead” and assures her he will get word to Romeo of the subterfuge. When she awakes they will be reunited.

But the message goes astray; Romeo receives word of his young wife’s death through another source. Blinded by grief, Romeo returns to the town, determined to be with her in death. He meets Paris at her tomb and kills him. Then at the side of his love’s body, drinks a fatal draught of poison. Juliet upon awaking too late, sees her love dead beside her and using his dagger, takes her own life. Father Lawrence arrives at the scene, too late to divert the tragedy.

The two families are left with their double grief, but as Escalus points out, not until their pride and foolishness killed the “joys” of their households.

Michael J. Arndt

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