The Chorus tells us the plot of the play, and what kind of play it is.
Act 1, Scene 1:
Sampson and Gregory, servants of the house of Capulet, go out looking for trouble. . . . Sampson and Gregory almost pick a fight with Abraham and Balthasar, servants of the house of Montague. . . . Seeing a Capulet kinsman, Sampson and Gregory start to fight with Abraham and Balthasar. Benvolio tries to stop the fight, but Tybalt enters and attacks Benvolio. The citizens of Verona attack both the Capulets and Montagues. Capulet and Montague try to join the fight, but are restrained by their wives. . . . Prince Escalus stops the riot, threatens everyone with death, and takes Capulet with him, leaving Benvolio alone with Montague and Lady Montague. Lady Montague asks where Romeo is, and Benvolio answers that he was up before dawn, wandering in the woods. The Montagues say that Romeo is afflicted with strange sorrows, and Benvolio offers to find out what's wrong with him. . . . Seeing Romeo coming, Montague and Lady Montague leave Benvolio alone to speak with their son. Benvolio soon discovers that Romeo's problem is that he loves a woman who doesn't return his love. Benvolio tries to get Romeo to say who it is he loves, but Romeo won't. Benvolio also tries to get Romeo to solve his problem by looking for another woman, but Romeo seems determined to love and suffer.
Act 1, Scene 2:
Paris asks Capulet for Juliet's hand in marriage. Capulet thinks she's too young, but tells Paris to woo her, and invites him to a feast that night. Capulet sends the servant out to invite other guests to the feast. . . . Benvolio is still trying to talk Romeo into considering other ladies when they are interrupted by the Capulet servant, who asks Romeo to read something for him. It is a list of guests at Capulet's feast that night. Thus Romeo discovers that Rosaline, his beloved, will be at the feast. Benvolio challenges Romeo to go to the feast and compare Rosaline with other beauties. Romeo says he will go, but only to rejoice that Rosaline is most beautiful of all.
Act 1, Scene 3:
Act 1, Scene 4:
Mercutio tries to persuade Romeo to dance at Capulet's feast, but Romeo insists that he is too sadly love-lorn to do anything but hold a torch. Then Romeo says that it's not wise to go to the feast at all, because of a dream he had. . . . Mercutio mocks Romeo's belief in his dream by going on and on about "Queen Mab," but Romeo is sure that some terrible fate awaits him. Nevertheless, he goes into the feast with his friends.
Act 1, Scene 5:
Act 2, Prologue:
The Chorus tells us that Romeo and Juliet are suffering because they can't meet, but that passion gives them power to find a way to see each other:
Act 2, Scene 1:
On his way home from Capulet's feast, Romeo turns back and jumps the wall of Capulet's garden. Benvolio calls for Romeo and Mercutio bawdily conjures Romeo, but he will not appear, and his friends depart.
Act 2, Scene 2:
Act 2, Scene 3:
At dawn Friar Laurence gathers herbs and comments on how -- in both plants and people -- everything has some good, and every good can be abused and turned to evil. . . . Romeo appears and tells Friar Laurence that he has fallen in love with Juliet and wants him to marry them. The Friar criticizes Romeo for jumping so quickly from love of Rosaline to love of Juliet, but agrees to perform the ceremony because he thinks that the marriage may end the hatred between the Capulets and Montagues.
Act 2, Scene 4:
Mercutio wonders where Romeo is. Benvolio says that Tybalt has sent a challenge to Romeo, and Mercutio scornfully describes Tybalt as an conceited killer. . . . Mercutio kids Romeo about love, and Romeo joins in the bawdy repartee. . . . Mercutio bawdily mocks the Nurse, who tells Romeo that she wants a word in private with him. . . . The Nurse complains about Mercutio, receives from Romeo the information about time and place of the wedding, then chatters on about how sweet Juliet is.
Act 2, Scene 5:
Juliet impatiently awaits the return of the Nurse with news from Romeo. . . . The Nurse teases Juliet by finding all kinds of ways to not deliver the joyful news, but finally tells her that she is to go Friar Laurence's cell to be married to Romeo.
Act 2, Scene 6:
Just before the wedding, Friar Laurence advises Romeo to love moderately. . . . Romeo and Juliet tell each other how much they love one another, and Friar Laurence leads them off to be married.
Act 3, Scene 1:
On the streets of Verona Benvolio tries to persuade Mercutio that it's best to stay out of the way of the Capulets and a quarrel, but Mercutio jokingly claims that Benvolio is as much of a quarreler as anyone. . . . Tybalt, looking for Romeo, is challenged to a fight by Mercutio, but then Romeo appears. . . . Tybalt challenges Romeo to fight. Romeo refuses, but Mercutio steps forward and fights Tybalt. As Romeo is trying to stop the fight, Tybalt
gives Mercutio a wound, then runs away. Mercutio dies. Romeo is ashamed of himself for letting Mercutio do the fighting, and when Tybalt returns, Romeo kills him. Benvolio has a hard time getting the dazed Romeo to leave the scene. . . . Benvolio tells the Prince what happened. Lady Capulet wants Romeo's life, but the Prince levies fines and exiles Romeo.
Act 3, Scene 2:
Juliet longs for the coming of night and Romeo. . . . The Nurse appears; she has seen Tybalt's corpse and heard that Romeo has been banished. The Nurse is so overwrought that her words first make Juliet think that Romeo is dead. When the Nurse finally makes it clear that Tybalt is dead and Romeo is banished, Juliet first turns against Romeo for killing her cousin, then defends him for killing the man who would have killed him. Then Juliet remembers that the Nurse said Romeo has been "banished," which drives her to despair. The Nurse promises Juliet that she'll make arrangements for Romeo to come that night for a farewell visit.
Act 3, Scene 3:
Learning from the Friar that he is to be banished, Romeo declares that the Friar is torturing him to death, then throws himself on the floor, moaning and weeping. . . . The Nurse brings 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.
Act 3, Scene 4:
On a sudden impulse, Capulet promises Paris that Juliet will marry him the day after tomorrow.
Act 3, Scene 5:
Just before dawn Romeo is preparing to leave, but Juliet declares that it's still night, so he can stay. Romeo offers to stay and die, but Juliet urges him to leave. . . . The Nurse hurries in with the news that Juliet's mother is coming.
Act 4, Scene 1:
As Paris is making arrangements with Friar Laurence to perform the wedding ceremony between himself and Juliet, she appears. Paris tries to tease some sign of affection out of Juliet and reminds her that they are to be married on Thursday. . . . Juliet says that she will kill herself rather than marry Paris, and the
Act 4, Scene 2:
Capulet is making arrangements for the wedding feast when Juliet appears, begs her father's pardon, and tells him that she will marry Paris. This makes Capulet so happy that he moves the wedding up to the very next day, Wednesday.
Act 4, Scene 3:
Juliet persuades her mother and the Nurse to leave her alone. She agonizes over everything that could go wrong, is terrified by visions of the grave, and drinks to Romeo.
Act 4, Scene 4:
The Capulets and their servants are busily preparing for the wedding. Paris' musicians are heard, and Capulet sends the Nurse to awaken Juliet.
Act 4, Scene 5:
Act 5, Scene 1:
Romeo expects good news from Verona, but receives the news that Juliet is dead. He buys poison of an apothocary and says that he intends to return to Verona and join Juliet in death.
Act 5, Scene 2:
Friar John explains to Friar Laurence why 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.
Act 5, Scene 3:
Paris comes to Juliet's grave to strew flowers and weep.