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Wikipedia svg logo-en.svg  Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young "star-cross'd lovers" whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.

This extract is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. It uses material from the article "Romeo and Juliet", retrieved 29 January 2011.

Audiobook of the complete play

LibriVox logo.png Romeo and Juliet

This extract is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. It uses material from the article "", retrieved 23 October 2009.

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Before studying Shakespeare, it's important to know a few things about:

Shakespearean glossary

Do you know your 'dost' from your 'wherefore'? There is a glossary of words commonly used in Shakespearean plays [here]. Make sure you know these words, as they'll help you to understand the play a lot better.


  • Written in 1595 during Queen Elizabeth I's reign. During this period there was a division between Catholics and Protestants. Great division occurred through England as a result of Elizabeth's protestant reign, which was a departure from her predecessor Mary's Catholic reign. Although the play is about two feuding families in Italy, it might as well be about Catholic and Protestant lovers.
  • Not an original story. Borrowed from the Italian story.
  • At the time, the English were fascinated with all things Italian, and thought all Italians to be hot blooded and racy.
  • Shakespeare was arguably entering the period of his career that saw his finest plays.



  • The complete play is available here. Choose a scene and summarise (in your own words) what happens in that scene.
  • Write a summary of the play in 20 words exactly. Add it here:
    • Two families fighting. Young lovers meet and marry. Cousin dead. Husband banished. Return plan fails. Both die tragically. Families reconcile.


The prologue of the play introduces the audience to the story and outlines what they are about to see:

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;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do 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, nought 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.

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  • Look at the prologue and identify what information in contains about the following:

(The physical, social and emotional environment)
(Who is involved in the play?)
(What happens?)
Write your ideas here


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  • Timeline Fill out the timeline of the major events below by using clues and hints from the play. For instance, Juliet is told 'Get thee to church on Thursday morn...' which helps us to figure out that the marriage to Paris is originally scheduled for Thursday. Include the following events:
    • Capulet and Montague servants fight in the streets.
    • Capulet holds an 'old accustomed feast'.
    • Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time.
    • Romeo and Juliet marry.
    • Tybalt kills Mercutio and Romeo kills Tybalt.
    • Prince banishes Romeo.
    • Romeo and Juliet spend one night together.
    • Romeo flees to Mantua.
    • Friar Laurence gives Juliet the potion.
    • Juliet is found dead.
    • Romeo hears of Juliet’s 'death'.
    • Romeo confronts Paris at the tomb.
    • Romeo and Juliet die.
    • The families reconcile and agree to make peace.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
The 'third' civil brawl takes place in the marketplace.