The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare
Novels
2:50 h
Level 10
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young Italian star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers. Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. The plot is based on an Italian tale translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but expanded the plot by developing a number of supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. The text of the first quarto version was of poor quality, however, and later editions corrected the text to conform more closely with Shakespeare's original.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

by
William Shakespeare


Dramatis Personae

Chorus.

Escalus, Prince of Verona.
Paris, a young Count, kinsman to the Prince.
Montague, heads of two houses at variance with each other.
Capulet, heads of two houses at variance with each other.
An old Man, of the Capulet family.

Romeo, son to Montague.
Tybalt, nephew to Lady Capulet.
Mercutio, kinsman to the Prince and friend to Romeo.
Benvolio, nephew to Montague, and friend to Romeo
Tybalt, nephew to Lady Capulet.

Friar Laurence, Franciscan.
Friar John, Franciscan.
Balthasar, servant to Romeo.
Abram, servant to Montague.
Sampson, servant to Capulet.

Gregory, servant to Capulet.
Peter, servant to Juliet’s nurse.
An Apothecary.
Three Musicians.
An Officer.

Lady Montague, wife to Montague.
Lady Capulet, wife to Capulet.
Juliet, daughter to Capulet.
Nurse to Juliet.

Citizens of Verona; Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of both houses;
Maskers, Torchbearers, Pages, Guards, Watchmen, Servants, and
Attendants.

SCENE. — Verona; Mantua.


The Prologue

Enter Chorus.

Chor. Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

[Exit.]


ACT I