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Romeo and Juliet Plot Overview

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The play starts with a street brawl between Montagues and Capulets. The Prince of Verona intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death. Later, Count Paris talks to Lord Capulet about marrying his daughter, but Capulet is wary of the request because Juliet is still only thirteen. Capulet asks Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a planned Capulet ball. Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse try to persuade Juliet to accept Paris' courtship. After the brawl, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Lord Montague's son, about Romeo's recent depression. Benvolio discovers that it stems from unrequited love for a girl named Rosaline, one of Lord Capulet's nieces. Persuaded by Benvolio and Mercutio, Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. However, Romeo instead meets and falls in love with Juliet. After the ball, in what is now called the "balcony scene", Romeo sneaks into the Capulet courtyard and overhears Juliet on her balcony vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred of the Montagues. Romeo makes himself known to her and they agree to be married. With the help of Friar Laurence, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are married secretly the next day. Juliet's cousin Tybalt, offended that Romeo had sneaked into the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel. Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight him. Mercutio is incensed by Tybalt's insolence, as well as Romeo's "vile submission",[3] and accepts the duel on Romeo's behalf. Mercutio is fatally wounded and Romeo, angered by his friend's death, pursues and slays Tybalt. The Prince exiles Romeo from Verona for the killing. He also adds that if Romeo returns, "that hour is his last". Lord Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses to become Paris's "joyful bride". When she then pleads for the marriage to be delayed, her mother rejects her. Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they consummate their marriage. Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a drug that will put her into a death-like coma for "two and forty hours".[4] The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan, so that he can rejoin her when she awakens. On the night before the wedding, she takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.
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