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Video:Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet Overview

with Becky Beth Benedict

"Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare is one of the most influential and widely-regarded pieces of literature ever written. Get a brief overview of this tragic love story and some major plot points in this video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet Overview

Hi! I'm Becky Beth Benedict and I'm here for About.com. Today, we're going to talk about an overview of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Romeo and Juliet Meet

The feud of Juliet's family, the Capulets, and Romeo's family, the Montagues, rages as their servants and family members engage in a fight, broken up by the Prince who declares that if they do not keep the peace they will pay for it with their lives. Capulet gives a party to allow Paris to seek Juliet's hand in marriage. Romeo and his friends attend the festivities as masked guests. Tybalt, Juliet's cousin is angered at the presence of their disguised enemies.  Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love, and exchange their first kisses. 

When the evening comes to a close Romeo stays on the grounds. From his hiding spot he spies Juliet on her balcony speaking of her new love, Romeo. He approaches her and they resolve to marry the next day.

Romeo and Juliet Get Married, Romeo Murders Tybalt

Juliet meets Romeo at Friar Lawrence's cell, where they are married in a simple ceremony. Afterwards, Juliet returns home to prepare herself for her husband's visit that evening. 

On the streets of Verona, Tybalt threatens Mercutio. Despite Romeo stepping in to end the conflict Tybalt kills Mercutio, and in turn the angered Romeo kills Tybalt. The Prince banishes Romeo for this offense. Capulet, mourning over Tybalt's murder hastily promises Juliet to Paris in marriage. Romeo sneaks into Juliet's room to spend their first night together as husband and wife. The next morning he must flee into exile in Mantua. 

Juliet, now expected to marry Paris, goes to Friar Lawrence for advice, since she's already married. He gives her a special potion to create the false appearance of death. Once her family believes her dead and places her in the family tomb, the Friar will have Romeo smuggle her away.

The Tragic Ending of Romeo and Juliet

The Friar's plans work, except that his message doesn't reach Romeo, although news of Juliet's death does. Romeo, distraught, procures a vial of poison and rushes to Juliet's side, where he finds Paris to paying respects. Paris and Romeo engage in a dual that takes Paris's life. Romeo kisses Juliet farewell and drinks the poison, to join her in death. Juliet awakens from her potion-induced sleep to find her husband dead. Taking his dagger she stabs herself to join him in death. A watchman has alerted the authorities and everyone gathers at the tomb to survey their losses. The heartbroken enemies finally extend a gesture of peace and build a monument to commemorate their lost children.

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