Plot in Romeo and Juliet

Plot Examples in Romeo and Juliet:

Act I - Scene I 3

"Clubs, bills, and partisans!..."   (Act I - Scene I)

These are all types of weapons used in and before Shakespeare's time. This short catalogue demonstrates the length of the feud and the state of perpetual warfare in which the citizens live. This outburst from the citizens shows the audience that they are fed up with this feud between the Montagues and Capulets, in much the same way many neighborhoods dislike gang violence today.

"bite my thumb..."   (Act I - Scene I)

In Shakespeare's time this was a serious insult, similar to showing someone your middle finger in modern times. While Gregory threatened to frown, Sampson escalates the insult towards the Montagues. Here we see not only the intensity of the hatred between the two families but also the competition among kinsmen that continuously escalates the feud.

"maidenheads..."   (Act I - Scene I)

Notice that taking one's virginity and taking one's life here are viewed as the same thing. In a story about tragic love that ends in the lover's death, this is an interesting place to start the story. This rude play on words becomes a fitting way to foreshadow the ending and problematize the love that this play will depict before we have even met the couple.

"My will to her consent is but a part...."   (Act I - Scene II)

Here Capulet asserts that he cannot order his daughter to consent to marriage and tells Paris that he must first try to woo her. While this suggests that Capulet and his daughter have a good relationship in which Juliet is allowed to determine her own future, this benevolent behavior will be reversed when Juliet denies his wishes. This instead operates as the illusion of choice: if Paris woos her, Juliet will believe that she was able to choose her own husband. Notice that Juliet's feelings or consent is never considered by either man.

"change of fourteen years;..."   (Act I - Scene II)

With this statement we learn that Juliet, Capulet's daughter, is only thirteen years old. Even in Shakespeare's time when girls married at a much younger age, Capulet acknowledges that more time needs to pass before he will allow Paris to marry her. He wants to wait until she is fifteen.

"already mothers..."   (Act I - Scene III)

Lady Capulet echoes what Paris said to Juliet's father in the previous scene and uses herself as an example of a young marriage. Notice that both Lady Capulet and Paris use the example of unnamed "other women" as models of behavior in order to convince Juliet that she should get married. Only the Nurse appeals to Juliet's feelings rather than offering other women's experiences to shape her decisions.

"He ..."   (Act II - Scene II)

This "he" refers to Mercutio and his jests from the previous scene. In this way Romeo links Scene II to Scene I and shows us that this break between scenes is more of a thematic break than a break between places or plot points. The action is continuous.

"Tybalt would have slain..."   (Act III - Scene II)

Juliet rationalizes Romeo's action by blaming Tybalt. In this way she is able to continue to love Romeo and forgive him for killing her cousin. Juliet's decision to stand by Romeo after Tybalt's death sets up her tragic end to come.

"why it should be slow'd...."   (Act IV - Scene I)

The Friar is referencing his knowledge of Romeo and Juliet's marriage. Juliet cannot marry Paris because she is already married to Romeo.

"Subtly..."   (Act IV - Scene III)

By this Juliet suspects that the potion that the Friar gave her is actually poison instead of a magic humor that will make her appear dead. Since the Friar is the person who married Romeo and Juliet, he could suffer grave repercussions if their union was discovered.