Leonard Whiting as Romeo.
Image Source: Romeo and Juliet the musical.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo.
Image Source: That's Normal
Douglas Booth as Romeo.
Image Source: THE DIGITALISTAS.
[His name suggests "romance," and therefore love and adventure.]
After the brawl in the first scene of the play, Lady Montague shows a motherly concern for her son. She says, "O, where is Romeo? saw you him to-day? / Right glad I am he was not at this fray" (1.1.116-117). Montague is also concerned about Romeo, because he seems very melancholy. Soon Romeo appears, and Benvolio offers to find out what his problem is. Romeo tells Benvolio that he is in love with a woman who will never love him. Benvolio sympathizes and tries to encourage him to consider other women, but Romeo seems determined to keep on loving and suffering. [Scene Summary]
In the second scene Benvolio continues to urge Romeo to cure his love-sickness by considering other women. He says, "Tut, man, one fire burns out another's burning" (1.2.45), but Romeo does not budge from his commitment to Rosaline. When they discover that Rosaline will be at Capulet's feast, Benvolio challenges Romeo to go to the feast, so that he may compare Rosaline with other beauties. Romeo says he will go, not to see ladies more beautiful than Rosaline, "But to rejoice in splendor of mine own" (1.2.101) [Scene Summary]
At the door of Capulet's house Benvolio and Mercutio, in their masks, are ready to make their entrance, but Romeo says, "Give me a torch: I am not for this ambling; / Being but heavy, I will bear the light" (1.4.11-12). As a torch-bearer, he wouldn't wear a mask or do any dancing. He's being a party-pooper, and why? Because he's "heavy," depressed, melancholy. For the rest of the scene Mercutio tries to talk Romeo into a better mood, but Romeo stubbornly clings to his melancholy. Finally, when Benvolio says that it will soon be too late to go in to Capulet's feast, Romeo replies:
I fear, too early: for my mind misgivesThis is a foreshadowing of what actually happens in the rest of the play. A fateful chain of events ("consequence") does begin its appointed time ("date") that night, and that chain of events does terminate the duration ("expire the term") of Romeo's life with premature ("untimely") death. But, despite his premonitions, Romeo does go into Capulet's house. [Scene Summary]
At Capulet's feast, Romeo spots Juliet and asks, "What lady is that, which doth enrich the hand / Of yonder knight?" (1.5.41-42). He is enchanted with her beauty and decides to go and touch her hand when the dance is over. Meanwhile, Tybalt spots Romeo and says that he has "Come hither, cover'd with an antic face, / To fleer and scorn at our solemnity" (1.5.56-57). Tybalt sends for his sword and plans to kill Romeo, but Capulet stops him. Romeo, who isn't even aware of Tybalt's presence, begs a kiss of Juliet, gets one, and is in love. As the party is breaking up, he learns the identity of Juliet and exclaims, "O dear account! my life is my foe's debt" (1.5.118). He means that because he is in love, he now owes his very life to Juliet, and she (as a Capulet) is his foe. [Scene Summary]
In the sonnet which the Chorus delivers as the Prologue to Act II, the first quatrain is almost saracastic:
Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,People scorned heirs who "gaped" (waited with open mouths, like baby birds) for the deaths of their parents, and perhaps some of this scorn is contained in the image of Romeo's love for Juliet eagerly awaiting the death of his love for Rosaline. The Chorus also points out that Romeo was willing to die for a beauty (Rosaline's) which is now not beautiful, since it has been compared to Juliet's beauty. These comments may make Romeo appear immature and shallow, but the play is, after all, a story of young love, and the next line points out an important difference between Romeo's new love and his former love. In "Now Romeo is beloved and loves again" (2.Prologue.5), the "again" does not mean "for the second time"; it means "in return." Romeo's love for Rosaline was a one-way street, but Romeo and Juliet have a mutual love. The rest of the sonnet is about the lovers' mutual problem. They can't meet because they are supposed to be enemies, but love overcomes the problem. [Scene Summary]
After Capulet's feast Romeo appears by himself and says, "Can I go forward when my heart is here? / Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out." (2.1.1-2). "Here" is Capulet's house, where Juliet is, and the "dull earth" to which Romeo speaks is his own body, which is only stupid dirt without its spiritual "centre" -- Juliet. Acting as quickly as he speaks, Romeo is gone. He jumps a fence into Capulet's orchard and hides there, hearing all, while Mercutio makes fun of him and suggests that his so-called love (for Rosaline -- Mercutio doesn't know about Juliet) is nothing more than horniness. [Scene Summary]
Commenting on Mercutio's jokes about himself, Romeo says, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound" (2.2.1). He means that Mercutio doesn't know what he's talking about because he's never been in love. Romeo then sees his love, Juliet, come to her window. He hears her confess her love for him, then comes forward and declares his love for her. By the end of this -- the "balcony scene" -- they have agreed to marry the next day. [Scene Summary]
When Romeo greets Friar Laurence early in the morning, the Friar gently teases him by saying, "Young son, it argues a distemper'd head / So soon to bid good morrow to thy bed" (2.3.34). Romeo returns teasing for teasing by telling his business in a series of riddles about himself and his enemy. Finally Romeo reveals that he and Juliet are in love, and asks the Friar to marry them. [Scene Summary]
The morning after Capulet's party, Mercutio asks Benvolio, "Where the devil should this Romeo be? / Came he not home to-night?" (2.4.1-2). Benvolio answers that he has spoken with Romeo's servant and found out that Romeo isn't at home. Mercutio, assuming Romeo is doing as Romeo has done in the past -- moping over Rosaline -- comments, "Ah, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline, / Torments him so, that he will sure run mad" (2.4.4-5). Then Benvolio mentions that Tybalt has sent a letter to Romeo at his father's house. Mercutio is sure it must be a challenge, and Benvolio is sure that "Romeo will answer it" (2.4.9). Benvolio means that Romeo will answer the challenge and fight Tybalt, but Mercutio jests that Romeo is too love-sick to fight.
Later in the scene, Romeo arrives and when Benvolio says, "Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo" (2.4.36), Mercutio makes wisecracks at Romeo until he start returning them. They both enjoy it so much that Romeo exclaims "Here's goodly gear!" (2.4.101). As the male bonding moment is reaching the height of its hilarity, the Nurse appears, accompanied by her servant Peter. These two, as they approach the young men, become the targets for more jokes, starting with Romeo's cry, "A sail, a sail!" (2.4.102), and followed by Mercutio's, "Two, two; a shirt and a smock" (2.4.103).
After Mercutio and Benvolio leave for lunch, the Nurse is incensed at Mercutio, but Romeo explains that Mercutio is just a guy who likes to hear himself talk, and who doesn't mean most of what he says. Finally the Nurse gets down to her business, which is to find out -- on Juliet's behalf -- when and where Romeo is going to marry Juliet. Romeo tells her the plan for the wedding and also tells her that within an hour she is to meet his servant, who will give her "cords made like a tackled stair [i.e., a rope ladder]; / Which to the high top-gallant [highest mast of a ship] of my joy / Must be my convoy in the secret night" (2.4.189-191). [Scene Summary]
When the Nurse returns from her conference with Romeo she teases Juliet. Part of her teasing is extravagant praise of Romeo:
Well, you have made a simple choice; you know notAfter more teasing, the Nurse finally tells her that Romeo is waiting for her at Frair Laurence's cell. [Scene Summary]
As Friar Laurence and Romeo wait for Juliet to arrive at the Friar's cell for her wedding, the Friar says he hopes everything will turn out well. Romeo answers, "Amen, amen! but come what sorrow can, / It cannot countervail [equal] the exchange of joy / That one short minute gives me in her sight" (2.6.3-5). In his view, the joy of a minute with Juliet will be greater than all the possible sorrow of any later hours. Romeo adds that he is ready to face the greatest sorrow of all: "Do thou but close our hands with holy words, / Then love-devouring death do what he dare; / It is enough I may but call her mine" (2.6.6-8). When Juliet arrives Romeo kisses her and tells her how much he loves her. Then the Friar leads them away to be married. [Scene Summary]
As Mercutio and Benvolio hang out and exchange witticisms about quarreling, Tybalt appears, looking for a quarrel with Romeo. Mercutio tries to pick a fight with Tybalt, but doesn't quite succeed because Tybalt is intent on catching up with Romeo. Tybalt says, "Mercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo,--" (3.1.45), only to be interrupted by Mercutio's exclamation, "Consort! what, dost thou make us minstrels?" (3.1.46). "Consort'st with" means "associate with," and has a derogatory meaning, as though Romeo is some sort of criminal. Mercutio's response mocks Tybalt's use of the word, and he again tries to provoke Tybalt to a fight, but then Romeo appears. Tybalt ignores Mercutio to confront Romeo with the ultimate in sarcastic disrespect: "Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford / No better term than this: thou art a villain" (3.1.60-61). However, Romeo (who has just secretly married Tybalt's cousin Juliet) declines to fight. This enrages both Tybalt and Mercutio, and they fight. As Romeo tries to stop the fight, Tybalt kills Mercutio. Tybalt runs away and Romeo is ashamed of himself. Tybalt soon returns and Romeo kills him to avenge Mercutio. Then Benvolio urges Romeo to flee the wrath of Prince Escalus, and Romeo does so, crying out, "O, I am fortune's fool!" (3.1.136). [Scene Summary]
The evening of her wedding day, Juliet is at home, longing for the coming of night and her Romeo. She says to the horses of the sun, "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). She goes on to say how impatient she is for Romeo's arrival, but then the Nurse arrives and cries out, "Ah, well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's dead! / We are undone, lady, we are undone! / Alack the day! he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead!" (3.2.37-39). The Nurse is talking about Tybalt, but at first Juliet thinks she's talking about Romeo, and Juliet expresses the wish to join Romeo in death. Then when it becomes clear that it's Tybalt who is dead, and that it's Romeo who has killed him, it seems that Juliet's heart turns against Romeo. She exclaims, "O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!" (3.2.73). But this mood doesn't last long. When the Nurse says, "Shame come to Romeo!" (3.2.90), Juliet hotly replies, "Blister'd be thy tongue / For such a wish! he was not born to shame" (3.2.90-91). Shame, she says, would be ashamed to sit on Romeo's brow, which is a fit throne for honor. Then she blames herself for saying bad things about him, saying, "O, what a beast was I to chide at him!" (3.2.95). And her greatest grief is that Romeo is banished. The Nurse sympathizes and promises that she will go to Friar Laurence's cell and send Romeo to Juliet. [Scene Summary]
After killing Tybalt, Romeo hides in Friar Laurence's cell. The Friar, returning to his cell with news of Prince Escalus' judgement, calls out, "Romeo, come forth, thou fearful man" (3.3.1). Then the Friar delivers the happy news that Romeo is sentenced to exile, not death. However, Romeo thinks that exile from Verona and Juliet is worse than death. Romeo goes into a frenzy of despair, which is made worse when the Nurse arrives with the news that Juliet is in just as bad shape as Romeo. Romeo, wild with guilt at the pain he has caused Juliet, tries to stab himself. Friar Laurence lectures Romeo and tells him what to do -- go to Juliet, then to Mantua until the Prince can be persuaded to pardon him. The Nurse gives Romeo the ring that Juliet asked her to take to him. These things put Romeo into a better frame of mind and he leaves Friar Laurence's cell to go to Juliet. [Scene Summary]
The morning after their wedding night, Romeo and Juliet must part. Romeo is getting ready to leave and Juliet says, "Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day: / It was the nightingale, and not the lark, / That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear" (3.5.1-3). Juliet tries to persuade Romeo to stay until the moment he agrees to stay, be caught, and die for her love. Then she urges him to go. As he is leaving, she asks if he thinks they will ever meet again and he answers, "I doubt it not; and all these woes shall serve / For sweet discourses in our time to come" (3.5.52-53).
A little later in the scene Lady Capulet finds Juliet weeping and assumes that Juliet shares her thirst for revenge against Romeo. She says to Juliet, "Well, girl, thou weep'st not so much for his [Tybalt's] death, / As that the villain lives which slaughter'd him" (3.5.78-79). Then follows a dialogue in which Lady Capulet expresses her hatred for Romeo and Juliet appears to agree with her but really expresses her love for Romeo. Then, when her mother announces that she is to be married to Paris, Juliet shows how much she is opposed by declaring that when she does marry, "It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, / Rather than Paris" (3.5.122-123). [Scene Summary]
Juliet tells Friar Laurence she would rather die than marry Paris. Holding a knife in her hand, Juliet declares that God joined her heart to Romeo's, and before "this hand, by thee to Romeo seal'd, / Shall be the label [seal] to another deed [i.e., marriage], / Or my true heart with treacherous revolt / Turn to another, this shall slay them both" (4.1.56-59).
Later in the scene, Friar Laurence promises Juliet that when the effects of the sleeping potion wear off and she awakes in the grave, Romeo will be there. He says to her, "In the mean time, against [in preparation for the time when] thou shalt awake, / Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift [plan], / And hither shall he come: and he and I / Will watch thy waking" (4.1.113-116). "Watch thy waking" means that Friar and Romeo will keep watch over her until she wakes up. [Scene Summary]
Preparing to take the sleeping potion that Friar Laurence has given her, Juliet is plagued with second thoughts and fears. Her greatest fear is about what would happen if she awoke alone. She says, "How if, when I am laid into the tomb, / I wake before the time that Romeo / Come to redeem me? there's a fearful point!" (4.3.30-32). She is afraid that she might suffocate; she is afraid that the sights and sounds of the grave might drive her mad. Her imagination wanders through the terrible place where she will awake, and sees Tybalt rise from the dead: "O, look! methinks I see my cousin's ghost / Seeking out Romeo, that did spit [skewer] his body / Upon a rapier's point." (4.3.55-57). This picture of Tybalt's ghost coming to kill Romeo is the final horror, and she tries to stop it, crying out, "Stay [stop], Tybalt, stay!", and calling upon her love, "Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here's drink--I drink to thee" (4.3.58). It's as if she drinks the potion to defend Romeo. [Scene Summary]
In Mantua Romeo says to himself, "If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep, / My dreams presage some joyful news at hand" (5.1.1-2). Romeo expects good news from Verona, but receives the news that Juliet is dead. He buys poison of an apothecary and says that he intends to return to Verona and join Juliet in death. [Scene Summary]
At the door of Friar Laurence's cell, Friar John calls, "Holy Franciscan friar! brother, ho!" (5.2.1). Friar Laurence comes out and immediately asks about Romeo: "Welcome from Mantua! What says Romeo? / Or, if his mind be writ, give me his letter" (5.2.3-4), but Friar John explains to Friar Laurence that he was unable to deliver Friar Laurence's letter to Romeo. Friar Laurence sends Friar John to get a crowbar and makes plans to be there when Juliet awakes, write again to Romeo in Mantua, and hide Juliet in his cell until Romeo arrives. [Scene Summary]
As soon as he arrives at Juliet's grave, Romeo says to Balthasar, "Give me that mattock and the wrenching iron" (5.3.22). Romeo is eager to open the grave and be with Juliet, but first he sends Balthasar away with a letter for Romeo's father. Then Paris comes forward and tries to arrest Romeo. They fight, and Romeo kills Paris. As he is dying, Paris asks to be laid next to Juliet. Romeo does this, pledges his love to Juliet, takes the poison, and dies. [Scene Summary]