Romeo and Juliet condensed

The Montagues and the Capulets were Verona’s two most famous families.  They may be two of the world’s most famous families, made famous by Shakespeare.  Romeo was a Montague and Juliet a Capulet. The two families were serious enemies. They also were Verona’s dominate families.  This is how it was in Verona sometime before 1595; the year Romeo and Juliet was first performed. 

Act 1. The play opens in Verona on a street corner with members of the Montague and Capulet families squabbling with each other, the Prince of Verona breaking them up.  Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, and Romeo’s parents remain at the intersection, calm having returned to the streets. Romeo’s mother believes her son to be out of sorts. Benvolio tells her “I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.” We learn that Romeo’s girlfriend, Rosaline, has dropped him. Benvolio pledges to help his cousin get through this broken romance. We learn that Capulet is throwing a masquerade dinner party that night. Benvolio convinces Romeo that they should attend, masked, Benvolio telling him “all the admired beauties of Verona” will be there. Lady Capulet, eager as she is to see her daughter married, suggests that she and the County Paris would make a good match, the County Paris being the Prince of Verona’s nephew. Marriage has not been on her daughter’s mind, Juliet not yet fourteen.  Soon after the party begins Romeo and Benvolio slip into the party unrecognized.  Romeo sees Juliet and promptly approaches her.  Tybalt, Capulet’s nephew, overhears Romeo speak.  Knowing by the sound of his voice that he is a Montague, he rushes to Capulet, angry as he can be.  Capulet dismisses the information as irrelevant.  Tybalt storms off in a huff.  Romeo and Juliet fall for each other, the two of them learning who the other is just as the party ends.

Act 2. Romeo ditches Benvolio soon after they leave the Capulet party, rushing to the orchard beneath Juliet’s bedroom balcony.  Juliet comes out on her balcony, cooing over Romeo. The two of them have a very romantic conversation.  They agree to marry later that day.  Romeo seeks out Friar Lawrence, finding him as dawn breaks, asking him if he will marry them.  Friar Lawrence agrees to the request, thinking their marriage might bring peace between the families, saying “this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households’ rancor to pure love.”  Fantasizing that morning over Romeo, Juliet sends her Nurse to find him.  The Nurse does.  Romeo asks her to tell Juliet that she needs to be at Friar Lawrence’s cell that afternoon, when he plans to marry them.  As Planned, Romeo and Juliet meet that afternoon with Friar Lawrence; each confirms their love for each other; Friar Lawrence marries them.  Only the three of them plus the Nurse are aware of the wedding. 

Act 3. Still angry over Romeo’s presence at the party the night before, Tybalt happens to meet Benvolio and Benvolio’s friend Mercutio on a street corner. A just-married Romeo enters. To Romeo, Tybalt says “Thou art a villain.” Taking offense, Mercutio draws his sword. He and Tybalt fight. Mercutio is killed. Romeo and Tybalt fight.  Tybalt is killed. The Prince of Verona enters.  He learns that “Romeo slew him; he slew Mercutio.”  Rushing to judgment, the Prince says “Romeo is banished to Mantua.”  The Nurse reports to Juliet that “He’s dead, he’s dead.” Juliet cries “Hath Romeo slain himself?”  The Nurse tells her “Tybalt is gone and Romeo banished.”  The Nurse has secured a rope ladder for Romeo to use to enter Juliet’s bedroom that night.  Juliet cries to herself “Poor ropes, a highway to my bed, but I, a maid, die maiden-widowed.”  Romeo does spend the night with Juliet in her bedroom, leaving at dawn to begin his banishment in Mantua.  On a Monday, Capulet gives the County Paris permission to marry his daughter on Thursday.  Paris is excited.  Juliet is distraught. Her father demands she marry Paris or she must “hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, for I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee.”  Juliet visits Friar Lawrence, telling him he must help her with this dilemma or she’ll take her own life.

Act 4. Juliet meets with Friar Lawrence. The friar tells her he has a way for her to temporarily appear to be dead.  He gives her a vial of “distilling liquor” to take that night.  It is now Tuesday.  Juliet tells her dad that she repents. Capulet is jubilant. He moves the wedding up a day, to Wednesday.  Juliet slips off to bed, dismisses the Nurse, drinks the potion, the “mixture” in the vial, and falls to sleep.  The next morning the Nurse finds Juliet “dead.” Friar Lawrence and the Capulets make funeral plans, taking her body to the family crypt.

Act 5. While in Mantua, Romeo learns of Juliet’s “death.” He is now distraught. He rushes to the Apothecary to buy a poison. County Paris quietly enters the Capulet crypt.  He steps aside, hearing Romeo. Paris steps forward. They draw swords and fight. Paris is seriously wounded.  He asks Romeo to place him in Juliet’s casket.  Romeo does. Paris dies. Romeo then kisses Juliet, drinks his poison and dies. Friar Lawrence soon enters and finds the bodies of Paris and Romeo. Juliet wakens and asks for Romeo. Friar Lawrence exits. Seeing Romeo dead, Juliet stabs herself and dies.  The Prince and the Capulets soon enter the crypt. We learn that Lady Montague died overnight from grief over her son’s exile. Friar Lawrence confesses to his role in the sordid affair.  Capulet and Montague shake hands. The Prince says “A glooming peace this morning with it brings.”