If you’re just getting to know Shakespeare’s most romantic tragedy, then here’s an extremely handy character guide for you! Join us for a quick look at all the Romeo and Juliet characters that you’ll meet along the way. We have divided our character list into two main groups representing the House of Montague and the House of Capulet. These great rival families are at the very heart of this tale of love, passion, violence and death. Next we meet the courtly characters, Prince Escalus and his kinsmen, followed by the holy church in the guise of Friar Lawrence.
This article contains spoilers!
This page is a companion to our book “Romeo and Juliet: The Full Doodling Edition”. We also have related articles on the themes of Romeo and Juliet, as well as a useful scene-by-scene summary. All of this can be downloaded in our printable Romeo and Juliet Pocket Study’zine Pack which also includes fun doodling sheets.
This guide is a companion to our book
Characters from the Montague’s Household
Romeo Montague is the well-regarded son of an important Veronese family. He is serious and thoughtful, often led by his heart. Fresh from an unrequited infatuation, Romeo falls instantly in love with Juliet, daughter of the rival Capulet family. He and she marry in secret, and so follows ever-worsening disarray as the family conflict bars their happiness. When Romeo’s close friend Mercutio is killed by Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, he is overcome with a rage for revenge which leaves Tybalt dead, and he banished. Romeo becomes desperate, but finds guidance from his ally Friar Lawrence, with whom he confides. Romeo is loyal and devoted, and his love for Juliet is continually tested. With increasing maturity he never intentionally fails her, but it is his own rash hasty-minded action that often brings tragedy.
Lord Montague is Romeo’s concerned father. As head of the Montagues he gains rebuke from Prince Escalus for the conflict with the Capulets.
Lady Montague is Romeo’s protective mother, and aunt to Benvolio. Her love for her son has such strength that she dies from grief following his banishment.
Benvolio is a Montague and cousin of Romeo. He spends a lot of time early on trying to help Romeo forget his lovesick infatuation for Rosalind. He is a peace-maker and acts with sense and maturity whenever a conflict is likely to arise. His name means ‘good wisher’, which sums him up nicely. Benvolio disappears from the play after explaining the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt.
Abram is a servant in the Montague household.
Balthasar is Romeo’s trusted manservant and friend.
Characters from the Capulet’s Household
Juliet is the only daughter of the wealthy Capulet family. She meets Romeo at her family’s feast and instantly falls in love with him, only to discover he is from the rival Montague family. Although she is only thirteen, a wealthy count called Paris is already asking Juliet’s father about her hand in marriage. Initially her father feels she is too young. Juliet confides much in her nurse, who has looked after her since she was a baby. Her relationship with the Nurse is strong, maybe stronger than that with her mother, but it is tested to breaking point by the banishment of Romeo. Juliet is witty and loyal, but marries Romeo in secret. She defies her father and mother, and her increasing maturity can sometimes seem at odds with Romeo’s. Ultimately her resolute character establishes her as the play’s tragic heroine.
Capulet is Juliet’s father and patriarch of the wealthy Capulet household. Somewhat contradictory – he is both warm and caring, fun and convivial, but also domineering and hot-headed. He is protective of Juliet but becomes enraged when she disobeys him, threatening to throw her out to poverty. He blindly plays his part in the unfolding tragedy, and ultimately is the first to offer his hand in peace to end the family feud.
Juliet’s mother Lady Capulet was also married young. Her relationship with her daughter seems cold, especially compared to that of the Nurse and Juliet; but she is truly distraught at her death. There are hints that hers is a loveless marriage, the convention of which she looks on as merely a transaction.
Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is hot-headed and quarrelsome. He stands in complete contrast to Romeo’s cousin Benvolio. ‘Wild’ and ’bloody’, Tybalt embodies the family feud of the Montagues and the Capulets. It is he that angrily spots Romeo gate-crashing the Capulet’s feast, and it is his bravado that leads ultimately to the tragic duels and their consequences.
The Nurse has cared for Juliet her whole life. She is fun, earthy, and enjoys her own naughty innuendo. She is loyal to Juliet, who confides in her fully. Nurse really wants to help Juliet find happiness with Romeo, and makes the secret arrangements for them both. However, when Lord Capulet’s plans for the marriage to Paris seem inevitable, she quickly changes course and makes Juliet feel betrayed. It is telling that Nurse seems insensitive to this moment – and it becomes a tipping point in the whole tragedy.
An old relative who sits with Capulet at the feast.
Peter, Sampson, Gregory
Three servants in the Capulet household.
From the Court of Verona
Prince Escalus personifies authority in Verona. His name suggests the scales of the justice. He acts to put an end to the fighting caused by the Capulet and Montague feud. But he shows mercy for Romeo following the killing of Tybalt in revenge for the death of his kinsman Mercutio.
Mercutio is Romeo’s sharp-witted friend and kinsman of the prince. His name suggests ‘Mercurial’ which describes his character well. His humor is cutting and his wordplay clever. He fights Tybalt for Romeo’s honor, not realizing the cause of his friend’s reluctance. His death is a turning point for Romeo.
Count Paris is a kinsman of Prince Escalus. He is wealthy and confident, and has decided he will marry Juliet. Juliet shows no real interest, but he is determined. It is particularly after Juliet’s death that we see clues that Paris held true feelings of love for Juliet.
Page to Paris
Characters in Mantua
The Apothecary sells the fatal poison to Romeo, who describes him as thin to the bone with bushy eyebrows and tattered clothes. He seems thoroughly down on his luck willing to risk all for money.
Characters from the Church
Friar Lawrence is a respected holy man, and both friend and advisor to Romeo. In many ways he is wise and well-meaning; helping and calming the young couple in their need. But he is also scheming and naive, hatching high-risk plans that put them at risk. Much of the tragedy that occurs originates with his plans, and in the end he hastily abandons Juliet in the tomb.
A fellow Franciscan friar whom Friar Lawrence entrusts with delivering the all-important letter.
Other Citizens of Verona
Relations, Servants, Three Musicians, Citizens,
Maskers, Guards, Watchmen
The illustrations in this article are from a reader’s own customized version of our book Romeo and Juliet: The Full Doodling Edition which is available at Amazon and from all good bookstores now. Learn more…