Romeo and Juliet” is a tragic love story written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two teenagers from feuding families who fall in love at first sight. Despite the obstacles in their way, Romeo and Juliet are determined to be together, but their secret marriage leads to a series of tragic events that ultimately end in their deaths. Read more 2nd PUC English Summaries.
Romeo and Juliet Summary
Romeo and Juliet Summary in English
‘Romeo and Juliet’ presents the tragic story of two young lovers Romeo and Juliet, who belong to two powerful noble families of Verona, the Montagues, and the Capulets. The two noble families harbour grudges against each other and have been fighting each other as sworn enemies for a long time.
The action starts with a street brawl between the servants of the two rival families, who are later joined by the heads of the families, the Montagues and the Capulets, themselves. Prince Escalus, 5 who arrives on the scene, admonishes them, restores order, and threatens death to any member of either family found indulging in street fights, in the future. Then he leaves the place taking Lord Capulet along with him.
Only Lord and Lady Montague and Benvolio, their nephew, remain there as the others depart. Lord Montague tells Benvolio that Romeo has been in a bad mood for quite a while, weeping and mooning, staying out all night but going into the house as soon as the sun rises, locking himself in his room with the curtains drawn as if to make ‘himself an artificial night’. Benvolio assures him that he will attempt to find out what is bothering Romeo.
Next, we find Paris, a young relative of Prince Escalus, engaged in a conversation with Lord Capulet. Paris wishes to marry 14-year-old Juliet, the only daughter of the Capulets. Lord Capulet tells Paris that Juliet is yet too young to marry, but tells Paris that he will not oppose the marriage if Paris can win Juliet’s consent. Incidentally, Lord Capulet invites Paris to a feast to be held at his house that evening.
Meanwhile, Benvolio meets Romeo and learns that Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline, who does not love him and insists on remaining chaste.
Next, we learn that Lord Capulet has given his servant a list of guests whom he has to see and ensure that they are invited to the Capulets’ party that evening. But the servant cannot read the names in the list and hence asks two strangers in the street to read. The two strangers are none other than Romeo and Benvolio. Romeo reads out the names of the guests and incidentally learns that fair Rosaline, with whom he is madly in love, is also one of the guests in the party. Romeo and Benvolio decide to ‘crash’ the party. As planned, Romeo and Benvolio gain entry into the party along with a retinue of masked entertainers and torchbearers.
While the guests are engaged in dancing, Romeo happens to see Juliet dancing with a gentleman. Romeo is awestruck by her beauty and tries to find out from a servant, who she is. It is at this juncture that Romeo says these lines.
The lines spoken by Romeo are taken from Act I Scene V when Romeo happens to see Juliet for the first time in the party hosted by the Capulets. Both Romeo and Juliet do not know each other.
Summary – I Romeo’s Speech
Romeo stands apart and rapturously praises her beauty. His words appear to come from someone who has not seen anyone so beautiful as Juliet before. It is night and the room is lit with torches. Romeo exclaims and says that Juliet is brighter than the blaze of the torches. It implies that her brightness outshines the torches and has lit up the hall. In the next two lines again there is a reference to the darkness of the night and the brightly shining lady. Romeo compares Juliet to a jewelled earring hanging against the cheek of an African.
Here again, it implies that Juliet is conspicuously seen amidst others because of her brightness. Romeo is so enchanted with her goddess-like beauty that he declares that she is too beautiful for this world and too beautiful to die and be buried. In the next line, he eulogizes her beauty saying that she outshines the other women like a white dove in the middle of a flock of crows.
Romeo is so overwhelmed by her beauty that he tells himself that when that dance is over, he will watch her where she stands and will touch her hand and make his coarse hand (compared to Juliet’s) blessed. Then he asks himself a question whether his heart loved anyone before that moment. Then he tells himself that if it was true then he would renounce it because he had never felt so much in love because he had never seen anyone truly beautiful like Juliet until that night.
(Having slipped away from his friends, Romeo lingers in Capulet s garden under Juliet’s window, and overhears her confess to the stars that she loves him. He reveals his presence to her, and in an ardent love scene, they resolve to be married secretly. The next day, Juliet sends her nurse, of whom she has made a confidante, to make final arrangements, and the wedding is performed at the cell of Friar Laurence, Romeo’s friend. The two lovers depart hoping to meet each other in Juliet’s chamber that night.
Returning from his wedding, Romeo comes upon his friends, Benvolio and Mercutio, in an altercation with Tybalt, who has been seeking Romeo because of his intrusion at the ball. Tybalt does his best to pick a fight, but Romeo, remembering that now Tybalt is his kinsman, refuses to quarrel.
Mercutio, however, who do not understand Romeo’s softness, takes the quarrel upon himself, and when Romeo and Benvolio try to beat down their weapons is slain by Tybalt. Aroused by the death of his best friend, Romeo throws aside his lenity, slays Tybalt, and flees as the angry citizens begin to gather.
Then we come to Act III Scene II, where we find Juliet waiting in her father’s orchard for her husband, Romeo’s, arrival. Juliet, unaware of what has just happened, waits out the passing of the day. She is more impatient than ever, for, that night Romeo is to come to her as her husband. At the opening of the scene, Juliet delivers an impassioned soliloquy, popularly known as ‘Juliet’s invocation to the night’. In her soliloquy, Juliet urges the sun on to its setting in the West, so that night may arrive sooner. She longs for the shelter of darkness when Romeo can come to her unseen. The dark suits lovers, for love, is blind and the beauty of lovers is enough light for them. There are 31 lines in this soliloquy but only 9 lines (lines 17 to 25) are prescribed for your study.
Whereas Romeo’s speech highlights the mesmerising physical beauty of Juliet, Juliet’s soliloquy highlights Juliet’s intensity of love for Romeo.
Summary-II Juliet’s soliloquy
In these nine lines, Juliet invokes both ‘night’ and ‘Romeo’ as well. She addresses Romeo as ‘day in the night’ because his presence will shine out against the darkness. She visualizes night like a bird j and believes that Romeo will come gliding on the wings of the night like ‘new snow’ on a raven’s back. She addresses the night appealingly calling it ‘gentle night’ and ‘black-browed night’. She implores it to bring her Romeo to her. After that, when she dies, she asks the night to take him and set him up in heaven with the stars so that he will make the face of heaven beautiful and charming. She hopes that when that happens ‘all the world will be in love with night, and it will not pay attention to the overbright or lurid sun.
The soliloquy is based on the unifying images of night and light. Juliet courts this night, which by its darkness will allow Romeo’s safe journey to her. The only light she needs is Romeo himself, who is ‘day in the night’. The light of the day and the ‘garish sun’ offer nothing to her; they are only ‘tedious’. It is a night that is ‘loving’, for it blesses her love with its darkness and silence and lets that love shine out. Even the stars, emblems of the fate she does not recognize, seem to be good to her. Romeo will be made eternal by the stars. Juliet’s speech is like singing in the face of death. Thus, Juliet hastens the coming of her wedding night.
In short, love belongs to Juliet, now that she is married, but she does not own it, and she can’t own love until Romeo possesses her. That is why she is waiting now as impatiently as a child waits for a festival.
In conclusion, “Romeo and Juliet” remains an enduring masterpiece, showcasing the destructive consequences of feuding and intolerance while celebrating the power of youthful love. Shakespeare’s exploration of love’s transcendence and the tragic inevitability of fate continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.