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Some Time in the Recent Past:[The action begins shortly before 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning in the middle of July and ends at dawn the following Thursday. Often in Shakespeare's tragedies it's difficult -- and not important -- to know just when things happen, but in Romeo and Juliet the time of events is very precisely accounted for. The only discrepancy is in the matter of the sleeping potion. Friar Laurence tells Juliet that she will awake forty-two hours after she takes it, but on Wednesday morning he sees her asleep from the potion and that evening, about twenty-four hours after she has taken the potion, he expects her to awake soon, and she does.]
The feud flares up:
Chorus: Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny . . . . (Prologue 1-3).
Prince Escalus: Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets . . . . (1.1.89-91)
Romeo suffers for love of RosalineThe First Day (Sunday, a little more than two weeks before Lammas-tide, August 1):
Before dawn: Benvolio and Romeo wander in the woods
Morning (shortly before 9:00 a.m): Prince Escalus breaks up a brawl between the Capulets and Montagues, orders Capulet and Montague to confer with him.
- Benvolio: Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun
Peer'd forth the golden window of the east,
A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad;
Where, underneath the grove of sycamore
That westward rooteth from the city's side,
So early walking did I see your son . . . . (1.1.123)
Morning(shortly after 9:00 a.m.): Benvolio tries to counsel Romeo about his hopeless love for Rosaline.
- Prince Escalus: You Capulet; shall go along with me:
And, Montague, come you this afternoon,
To know our further pleasure in this case . . . . (1.1.99-101)
Afternoon: Capulet returns from his conference with Prince Escalus and invites Paris to his feast.
- Benvolio: Good-morrow, cousin.
Romeo: Is the day so young?
Benvolio: But new struck nine. (1.1.160-161)
Late Afternoon: Lady Capulet and the Nurse discuss Juliet's age. Lady Capulet tells Juliet that Paris wants to marry her.
- Capulet: But Montague is bound as well as I,
In penalty alike; and 'tis not hard, I think,
For men so old as we to keep the peace. (1.2.1-3)
- Capulet: This night I hold an old accustom'd feast . . . . (1.2.20)
Evening: Romeo and his friends go to Capulet's house.
- Lady Capulet: Thou know'st my daughter's of a pretty age.
Nurse: Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.
Lady Capulet: She's not fourteen.
Nurse: I'll lay fourteen of my teeth,--
And yet, to my teeth be it spoken, I have but four--
She is not fourteen. How long is it now
Lady Capulet: A fortnight and odd days.
Nurse: Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen. (1.3.10-17)
- Lady Capulet: What say you? can you love the gentleman?
This night you shall behold him at our feast . . . . (1.3.79-80)
- Servingman: Madam, the guests are come, supper served
up, you called, my young lady asked for, the nurse
cursed in the pantry, and every thing in extremity. I
must hence to wait; I beseech you, follow straight. (1.3.100-103)
Night: Romeo jumps the wall into Capulet's garden, hides from Benvolio and Mercutio.
- Mercutio: Come, we burn daylight, ho!
Romeo: Nay, that's not so.
Mercutio: I mean, sir, in delay
We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day. (1.4.143-145)
- Benvolio: Supper is done, and we shall come too late. (1.4.105)
- Benvolio: Come, he hath hid himself among these trees,
To be consorted with the humorous night:
Blind is his love and best befits the dark. (2.1.30-32)
Late night to shortly before dawn: Romeo and Juliet exchange vows of love, plan to be married the next day.
The Second Day (Monday):
Dawn: Friar Laurence gathers herbs. Romeo asks the Friar to marry himself and Juliet.The Third Day (Tuesday):
- Friar Laurence: The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night . . . . .
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours . . . (2.3.1-7).
- Friar Laurence:Thou art up-roused by some distemperature;
Or if not so, then here I hit it right,
Our Romeo hath not been in bed to-night. (2.3.40-42)
9:00 a.m.: Juliet sends the Nurse to Romeo.
- Juliet: At what o'clock to-morrow
Shall I send to thee?
Romeo: At the hour of nine. (2.2.167-168)
- Juliet: The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse;
In half an hour she promised to return. (2.5.1-2)
Noon: The Nurse finds Romeo, who tells her to tell Juliet to meet him at Friar Laurence's cell that afternoon.
- Nurse: God ye good morrow, gentlemen.
Mercutio: God ye good den, fair gentlewoman.
Nurse: Is it good den?
Mercutio: 'Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon. (2.4.109-113)
- Juliet: Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day's journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she [the Nurse] is not come. (2.5.9-11).
Early Afternoon: Romeo and Juliet are married.
An Hour Later: Tybalt kills Mercutio, and Romeo kills Tybalt.
- Romeo: My very friend, hath got his mortal hurt
In my behalf; my reputation stain'd
With Tybalt's slander,--Tybalt, that an hour
Hath been my kinsman! (3.1.110-113).
Shortly Before Nightfall: Juliet longs for Romeo to come to her, then learns that Romeo is banished. The Nurse promises to send Romeo to Juliet that night.
- Juliet: Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus' lodging: such a wagoner
As Phaëthon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately. (3.2.1-4)
- Nurse: Hark ye, your Romeo will be here at night. (3.2.140)
Night: Friar Laurence sends Romeo to Juliet.
- Friar Laurence: Give me thy hand; 'tis late: farewell; good night. (3.3.172)
Late Night: Capulet arranges for the wedding of Juliet to Paris three days hence, Thursday.
- Capulet: 'Tis very late, she'll not come down to-night:
I promise you, but for your company,
I would have been a-bed an hour ago. (3.4.5-7)
- Capulet: Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed;
Acquaint her here of my son Paris' love,
And bid her, mark you me, on Wednesday next--
But, soft! what day is this?
Paris: Monday, my lord.
Capulet: Monday! ha, ha! Well, Wednesday is too soon,
O' Thursday let it be: o' Thursday, tell her,
She shall be married to this noble earl. (3.4.15-21)
Dawn: Romeo, after spending his wedding-night with Juliet, departs for Mantua.The Fourth Day (Wednesday):
- Romeo:It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die. (3.5.6-11)
Sometime During the Day: Friar Laurence hears from Paris that he and Juliet are to be married on Thursday. Paris, encountering Juliet at Friar Laurence's cell, reminds her that they are to be married on Thursday. Friar Laurence gives Juliet the sleeping potion and tells her the rest of his plan.
- Friar Laurence: On Thursday, sir? the time is very short.
Paris: My father Capulet will have it so,
And I am nothing slow to slack his haste. (4.1.1-3)
- Paris: Happily met, my lady and my wife!
Juliet: That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.
Paris: That "may be" must be, love, on Thursday next. (4.1.18-20)
- Friar Laurence: Hold, then; go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris: Wednesday is to-morrow:
To-morrow night look that thou lie alone;
Let not thy nurse lie with thee in thy chamber:
Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilling liquor drink thou off . . . . (4.1.89-94)
- Friar Laurence: And in this borrow'd likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep. (4.1.104-106)
- Friar Laurence: In the mean time, against thou shalt awake,
Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift,
And hither shall he come: and he and I
Will watch thy waking, and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua (4.1.113-117)
Late Afternoon: Juliet tells her father that she has repented her opposition to the marriage to Paris, and Capulet moves the wedding up a day, from Thursday to Wednesday, which is the next morning.
- Capulet: Send for the County; go tell him of this:
I'll have this knot knit up to-morrow morning. (4.2.24)
- Juliet: Nurse, will you go with me into my closet,
To help me sort such needful ornaments
As you think fit to furnish me to-morrow?
Lady Capulet: No, not till Thursday; there is time enough.
Capulet: Go, nurse, go with her: we'll to church to-morrow.
Lady Capulet: We shall be short in our provision,
'Tis now near night. (4.2.33-39)
Night: Juliet takes the sleeping potion.
- Juliet: Ay, those attires are best, but, gentle nurse,
I pray thee, leave me to myself to-night . . . (4.3.1-2)
- Juliet: So please you, let me now be left alone,
And let the nurse this night sit up with you;
For, I am sure, you have your hands full all,
In this so sudden business.
Lady Capulet: Good night.
Get thee to bed, and rest; for thou hast need. (4.3.9-14)
Dawn: Everyone in the Capulet household, having been up all night preparing the wedding feast, is still at it when Paris arrives and the Nurse goes to wake Juliet.
- Capulet: Come, stir, stir, stir! the second cock hath crow'd,
The curfew-bell hath rung, 'tis three o'clock. (4.4.3-4)
Sometime During the Day: Romeo hears from Balthasar that Juliet is dead and determines to join her in death that night.
- Romeo: Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!
Thou know'st my lodging: get me ink and paper,
And hire post-horses; I will hence to-night. (5.1.24-26)
- Romeo: Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night (5.1.34)
Evening: Friar Laurence learns from Friar John that the letter to Romeo was never delivered and realizes he must go Juliet's tomb alone, because she will awake within three hours.
- Friar Laurence: Now must I to the monument alone;
Within three hours will fair Juliet wake (5.2.24-25)
Night to Dawn: Paris comes to Juliet's tomb. After Romeo kills Paris and commits suicide, Friar Laurence, coming to take Juliet away, discovers the bodies of Paris and Romeo. Paris' Page leads the Watch to Juliet's tomb. Prince Escalus arrives at the tomb, then Montague and the Capulets. Prince Escalus, after conducting an investigation, sends everyone away.
- Paris: Give me thy torch, boy: hence, and stand aloof. (5.3.1)
- Paris: The boy gives warning something doth approach.
What cursed foot wanders this way to-night,
To cross my obsequies and true love's rite?
What with a torch! muffle me, night, awhile. (5.3.18-21)
- Friar Laurence: Bliss be upon you! Tell me, good my friend,
What torch is yond, that vainly lends his light
To grubs and eyeless skulls? as I discern,
It burneth in the Capel's monument. (5.3.124-127)
- Page: This is the place; there, where the torch doth burn. (5.3.171)
- Prince: What misadventure is so early up,
That calls our person from our morning's rest? (5.3.188-189)
- Prince: Come, Montague; for thou art early up,
To see thy son and heir more early down. (5.3.208-209)
- Prince: A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head (5.3.305-306)
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