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Romeo and Juliet
Act 1, scene 1

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The prologue of Romeo and Juliet calls the title characters “star-crossed lovers”—and the stars do seem to conspire against these young lovers….

Prologue

Act 1, scene 1

A street fight breaks out between the Montagues and the Capulets, which is broken up by the ruler of Verona,…

Act 1, scene 2

In conversation with Capulet, Count Paris declares his wish to marry Juliet. Capulet invites him to a party that night….

Act 1, scene 3

Lady Capulet informs Juliet of Paris’s marriage proposal and praises him extravagantly. Juliet says that she has not even dreamed…

Act 1, scene 4

Romeo and Benvolio approach the Capulets’ party with their friend Mercutio and others, wearing the disguises customarily donned by “maskers.”…

Act 1, scene 5

Capulet welcomes the disguised Romeo and his friends. Romeo, watching the dance, is caught by the beauty of Juliet. Overhearing…

Act 2, chorus

Again the Chorus’s speech is in the form of a sonnet.

Act 2, scene 1

Romeo finds himself so in love with Juliet that he cannot leave her. He scales a wall and enters Capulet’s…

Act 2, scene 2

From Capulet’s garden Romeo overhears Juliet express her love for him. When he answers her, they acknowledge their love and…

Act 2, scene 3

Determined to marry Juliet, Romeo hurries to Friar Lawrence. The Friar agrees to marry them, expressing the hope that the…

Act 2, scene 4

Mercutio and Benvolio meet the newly enthusiastic Romeo in the street. Romeo defeats Mercutio in a battle of wits. The…

Act 2, scene 5

Juliet waits impatiently for the Nurse to return. Her impatience grows when the Nurse, having returned, is slow to deliver…

Act 2, scene 6

Juliet meets Romeo at Friar Lawrence’s cell. After expressing their mutual love, they exit with the Friar to be married.

Act 3, scene 1

Mercutio and Benvolio encounter Tybalt on the street. As soon as Romeo arrives, Tybalt tries to provoke him to fight….

Act 3, scene 2

Juliet longs for Romeo to come to her. The Nurse arrives with the news that Romeo has killed Tybalt and…

Act 3, scene 3

Friar Lawrence tells Romeo that his punishment for killing Tybalt is banishment, not death. Romeo responds that death is preferable…

Act 3, scene 4

Paris again approaches Capulet about marrying Juliet. Capulet, saying that Juliet will do as she is told, promises Paris that…

Act 3, scene 5

Romeo and Juliet separate at the first light of day. Almost immediately her mother comes to announce that Juliet must…

Act 4, scene 1

Paris is talking with Friar Lawrence about the coming wedding when Juliet arrives. After Paris leaves, she threatens suicide if…

Act 4, scene 2

Capulet energetically directs preparations for the wedding. When Juliet returns from Friar Lawrence and pretends to have learned obedience, Capulet…

Act 4, scene 3

Juliet sends the Nurse away for the night. After facing her terror at the prospect of awaking in her family’s…

Act 4, scene 4

The Capulets and the Nurse stay up all night to get ready for the wedding. Capulet, hearing Paris approach with…

Act 4, scene 5

The Nurse finds Juliet in the deathlike trance caused by the Friar’s potion and announces Juliet’s death. Juliet’s parents and…

Act 5, scene 1

Romeo’s man, Balthasar, arrives in Mantua with news of Juliet’s death. Romeo sends him to hire horses for their immediate…

Act 5, scene 2

Friar John enters, bringing with him the letter that he was to have delivered to Romeo. He tells why he…

Act 5, scene 3

Paris visits Juliet’s tomb and, when Romeo arrives, challenges him. Romeo and Paris fight and Paris is killed. Romeo, in…

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Scene 1
Enter Sampson and Gregory, with swords and bucklers,
of the house of Capulet.


SAMPSON Gregory, on my word we’ll not carry coals.
GREGORY No, for then we should be colliers.
SAMPSON I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.
GREGORY Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of
5 collar.
SAMPSON I strike quickly, being moved.
GREGORY But thou art not quickly moved to strike.
SAMPSON A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
GREGORY To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to
10 stand. Therefore if thou art moved thou runn’st
 away.
SAMPSON A dog of that house shall move me to stand. I
 will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.
GREGORY That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest
15 goes to the wall.
SAMPSON ’Tis true, and therefore women, being the
 weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore
 I will push Montague’s men from the wall and
 thrust his maids to the wall.
GREGORY 20The quarrel is between our masters and us
 their men.
SAMPSON ’Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant.
 When I have fought with the men, I will be civil
 with the maids; I will cut off their heads.
9

11
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

GREGORY 25The heads of the maids?
SAMPSON Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.
 Take it in what sense thou wilt.
GREGORY They must take it in sense that feel it.
SAMPSON Me they shall feel while I am able to stand,
30 and ’tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.
GREGORY ’Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou
 hadst been poor-john. Draw thy tool. Here comes
 of the house of Montagues.

Enter Abram with another Servingman.

SAMPSON My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back
35 thee.
GREGORY How? Turn thy back and run?
SAMPSON Fear me not.
GREGORY No, marry. I fear thee!
SAMPSON Let us take the law of our sides; let them
40 begin.
GREGORY I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it
 as they list.
SAMPSON Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at
 them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.
He bites his thumb.
ABRAM 45Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON I do bite my thumb, sir.
ABRAM Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON, aside to Gregory Is the law of our side if I
 say “Ay”?
GREGORY, aside to Sampson 50No.
SAMPSON No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
 but I bite my thumb, sir.
GREGORY Do you quarrel, sir?
ABRAM Quarrel, sir? No, sir.
SAMPSON 55But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as
 good a man as you.
ABRAM No better.

13
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

SAMPSON Well, sir.

Enter Benvolio.

GREGORY, aside to Sampson Say “better”; here comes
60 one of my master’s kinsmen.
SAMPSON Yes, better, sir.
ABRAM You lie.
SAMPSON Draw if you be men.—Gregory, remember
 thy washing blow.They fight.
BENVOLIO 65Part, fools!Drawing his sword.
 Put up your swords. You know not what you do.

Enter Tybalt, drawing his sword.

TYBALT 
 What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
 Turn thee, Benvolio; look upon thy death.
BENVOLIO 
 I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,
70 Or manage it to part these men with me.
TYBALT 
 What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word
 As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
 Have at thee, coward!They fight.

Enter three or four Citizens with clubs or partisans.

CITIZENS 
 Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!
75 Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!

Enter old Capulet in his gown, and his Wife.

CAPULET 
 What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!
LADY CAPULET 
 A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a
 sword?

Enter old Montague and his Wife.

15
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

CAPULET 
 My sword, I say. Old Montague is come
80 And flourishes his blade in spite of me.
MONTAGUE 
 Thou villain Capulet!—Hold me not; let me go.
LADY MONTAGUE 
 Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.

Enter Prince Escalus with his train.

PRINCE 
 Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
 Profaners of this neighbor-stainèd steel—
85 Will they not hear?—What ho! You men, you beasts,
 That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
 With purple fountains issuing from your veins:
 On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
 Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground,
90 And hear the sentence of your movèd prince.
 Three civil brawls bred of an airy word
 By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
 Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets
 And made Verona’s ancient citizens
95 Cast by their grave-beseeming ornaments
 To wield old partisans in hands as old,
 Cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate.
 If ever you disturb our streets again,
 Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
100 For this time all the rest depart away.
 You, Capulet, shall go along with me,
 And, Montague, come you this afternoon
 To know our farther pleasure in this case,
 To old Free-town, our common judgment-place.
105 Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.
All but Montague, Lady Montague,
and Benvolio exit.


17
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

MONTAGUE, to Benvolio 
 Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?
 Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?
BENVOLIO 
 Here were the servants of your adversary,
 And yours, close fighting ere I did approach.
110 I drew to part them. In the instant came
 The fiery Tybalt with his sword prepared,
 Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears,
 He swung about his head and cut the winds,
 Who, nothing hurt withal, hissed him in scorn.
115 While we were interchanging thrusts and blows
 Came more and more and fought on part and part,
 Till the Prince came, who parted either part.
LADY MONTAGUE 
 O, where is Romeo? Saw you him today?
 Right glad I am he was not at this fray.
BENVOLIO 
120 Madam, an hour before the worshiped sun
 Peered forth the golden window of the east,
 A troubled mind drove me to walk abroad,
 Where underneath the grove of sycamore
 That westward rooteth from this city side,
125 So early walking did I see your son.
 Towards him I made, but he was ’ware of me
 And stole into the covert of the wood.
 I, measuring his affections by my own
 (Which then most sought where most might not be
130 found,
 Being one too many by my weary self),
 Pursued my humor, not pursuing his,
 And gladly shunned who gladly fled from me.
MONTAGUE 
 Many a morning hath he there been seen,
135 With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,
 Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs.

19
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

 But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
 Should in the farthest east begin to draw
 The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed,
140 Away from light steals home my heavy son
 And private in his chamber pens himself,
 Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,
 And makes himself an artificial night.
 Black and portentous must this humor prove,
145 Unless good counsel may the cause remove.
BENVOLIO 
 My noble uncle, do you know the cause?
MONTAGUE 
 I neither know it nor can learn of him.
BENVOLIO 
 Have you importuned him by any means?
MONTAGUE 
 Both by myself and many other friends.
150 But he, his own affections’ counselor,
 Is to himself—I will not say how true,
 But to himself so secret and so close,
 So far from sounding and discovery,
 As is the bud bit with an envious worm
155 Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air
 Or dedicate his beauty to the same.
 Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow,
 We would as willingly give cure as know.

Enter Romeo.

BENVOLIO 
 See where he comes. So please you, step aside.
160 I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.
MONTAGUE 
 I would thou wert so happy by thy stay
 To hear true shrift.—Come, madam, let’s away.
Montague and Lady Montague exit.

21
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

BENVOLIO 
 Good morrow, cousin.
ROMEO  Is the day so young?
BENVOLIO 
165 But new struck nine.
ROMEO  Ay me, sad hours seem long.
 Was that my father that went hence so fast?
BENVOLIO 
 It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?
ROMEO 
 Not having that which, having, makes them short.
BENVOLIO 170In love?
ROMEO Out—
BENVOLIO Of love?
ROMEO 
 Out of her favor where I am in love.
BENVOLIO 
 Alas that love, so gentle in his view,
175 Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!
ROMEO 
 Alas that love, whose view is muffled still,
 Should without eyes see pathways to his will!
 Where shall we dine?—O me! What fray was here?
 Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
180 Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.
 Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
 O anything of nothing first create!
 O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
 Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,
185 Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
 Still-waking sleep that is not what it is!
 This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
 Dost thou not laugh?
BENVOLIO  No, coz, I rather weep.
ROMEO 
190 Good heart, at what?

23
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

BENVOLIO  At thy good heart’s oppression.
ROMEO Why, such is love’s transgression.
 Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,
 Which thou wilt propagate to have it pressed
195 With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown
 Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.
 Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs;
 Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
 Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.
200 What is it else? A madness most discreet,
 A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
 Farewell, my coz.
BENVOLIO  Soft, I will go along.
 An if you leave me so, you do me wrong.
ROMEO 
205 Tut, I have lost myself. I am not here.
 This is not Romeo. He’s some other where.
BENVOLIO 
 Tell me in sadness, who is that you love?
ROMEO What, shall I groan and tell thee?
BENVOLIO 
 Groan? Why, no. But sadly tell me who.
ROMEO 
210 A sick man in sadness makes his will—
 A word ill urged to one that is so ill.
 In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.
BENVOLIO 
 I aimed so near when I supposed you loved.
ROMEO 
 A right good markman! And she’s fair I love.
BENVOLIO 
215 A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.
ROMEO 
 Well in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit
 With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit,
 And, in strong proof of chastity well armed,

25
Romeo and Juliet
ACT 1. SC. 1

 From love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed.
220 She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
 Nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes,
 Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.
 O, she is rich in beauty, only poor
 That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.
BENVOLIO 
225 Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?
ROMEO 
 She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste;
 For beauty, starved with her severity,
 Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
 She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,
230 To merit bliss by making me despair.
 She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow
 Do I live dead, that live to tell it now.
BENVOLIO 
 Be ruled by me. Forget to think of her.
ROMEO 
 O, teach me how I should forget to think!
BENVOLIO 
235 By giving liberty unto thine eyes.
 Examine other beauties.
ROMEO  ’Tis the way
 To call hers, exquisite, in question more.
 These happy masks that kiss fair ladies’ brows,
240 Being black, puts us in mind they hide the fair.
 He that is strucken blind cannot forget
 The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.
 Show me a mistress that is passing fair;
 What doth her beauty serve but as a note
245 Where I may read who passed that passing fair?
 Farewell. Thou canst not teach me to forget.
BENVOLIO 
 I’ll pay that doctrine or else die in debt.
They exit.