Here’s an useful scene-by-scene summary of Shakespeare’s famous love story, Romeo and Juliet. If you are studying the play, or about to go and see it for the first time, then you might also like to download the free pocket version of this guide. Print it out at home or school and keep it handy for reference whenever you need it.
As you might guess, 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 the characters in Romeo and Juliet. 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
A Summary of Romeo and Juliet Act 1
Act 1 Scene I
On a sun-baked street in Verona, servants of two rival families stir up an argument. Benvolio, a Montague, tries to bring peace just as Tybalt the hot-headed Capulet arrives. Soon it becomes a riot. The two family patriarchs arrive and join the fray. All stops on the arrival of Prince Escalus. Angered by the continuing violence, he threatens execution for any who fight in the streets again. Lord and Lady Montague ask Benvolio the whereabouts of their son, Romeo. Later Romeo speaks sadly to him of his unrequited love for a girl.
Act 1 Scene II
Meanwhile, the wealthy Count Paris asks Lord Capulet for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Capulet asks him to wait because Juliet is too young. He invites Paris to the Capulet’s feast. Soon Romeo and Benvolio hear of their rival family’s feast, and knowing that Rosaline will be there Romeo agrees to go.
Act 1 Scene III
Lady Capulet and Nurse discuss Paris’s proposal. They try to persuade Juliet that he is a good match.
Act 1 Scene IV
Romeo, Mercutio, and friends, make their way to the feast. Mercutio teases Romeo with a tale of the fairy-queen Mab. But Romeo’s bad dream makes him uneasy.
Act 1 Scene V
At the feast Romeo spots the beautiful Juliet. Tybalt recognises him, and is outraged that Montagues have crashed the Capulet’s party. Lord Capulet rebukes Tybalt for wanting a fight. He leaves in a rage. Romeo and Juliet meet. It is love at first sight. Soon they discover they are in rival families.
A Summary of Romeo and Juliet Act 2
Act 2 Scene I
After the feast, thinking Romeo still love-sick for Rosaline, Benvolio and Mercutio search for him.
Act 2 Scene II
Romeo hides in the Capulet’s orchard and watches Juliet at her window. Unaware he is there, and despite the family feuds, she declares love for him. Romeo steps out of the shadows. They share a vow of love. Juliet asks that they make a secret plan to be married.
Act 2 Scene III
Early next day Romeo visits Friar Lawrence to ask the Friar to perform a secret wedding. He agrees, hoping it may reconcile the warring families.
Act 2 Scene IV
Mercutio jokes about Tybalt’s showy bravado and teases Romeo for his infatuations. The Nurse arrives seeking Romeo, and is crudely taunted by Mercutio. Romeo makes plans with the Nurse for his marriage to Juliet.
Act 2 Scene V
Nurse returns home to tell the impatient Juliet of the plans for the marriage.
Act 2 Scene VI
At the Friar’s cell the two lovers talk of love. They leave for the wedding ceremony.
A Summary of Romeo and Juliet Act 3
Act 3 Scene I
On the street Benvolio fears trouble. Mercutio chides him and tries to provoke Tybalt. But Tybalt wants a quarrel with Romeo. Romeo appears and does not want to fight. He tries to calm Tybalt. Mercutio can’t understand this – so he challenges Tybalt himself. Romeo tries to intervene, but Mercutio is fatally wounded. Realising Mercutio is dead, Romeo fights and kills Tybalt, and then flees. Prince Escalus arrives and demands an explanation from Benvolio. Despite Lady Capulet’s call for Romeo’s death, the Prince decrees that Romeo is banished.
Act 3 Scene II
Knowing nothing of the day’s tragedy, Juliet longs for the arrival of her new husband, Romeo. When the Nurse arrives upset, Juliet wrongly thinks Romeo is dead. She soon learns of the deaths and the banishment. Devastated she threatens suicide, but the Nurse consoles her and promises to find Romeo.
Act 3 Scene III
The Friar tells Romeo of the Prince’s decree. Romeo is distraught. When the Nurse arrives speaking of Juliet’s sorrow, he too threatens suicide. The Friar sends Romeo to stay the night with Juliet, imploring him to leave early for Mantua next morning, where he will later send word.
Act 3 Scene IV
The Capulets tell Paris of Juliet’s apparent grief at the loss of her cousin Tybalt. Lord Capulet rethinks, and plans a quick marriage for his daughter and Paris.
Act 3 Scene V
Romeo and Juliet awake from their secret wedding night together. Romeo reluctantly leaves for Mantua. With a moments warning from Nurse, Lady Capulet enters to tell Juliet she is to marry Paris. Juliet refuses. Capulet arrives and is enraged by Juliet’s defiance. Her choice is marriage or disinheritance. The Nurse tries to persuade her to forget Romeo, but she flees to the Friar for help.
A Summary of Romeo and Juliet Act 4
Act 4 Scene I
When Juliet arrives at the Friar’s cell, Paris is there talking wedding plans. He speaks of his love for Juliet, but she avoids responding. Paris gone, Juliet pleas for the Friar’s help, threatening suicide if she must marry again. The Friar hatches a plan to fake Juliet’s death with a sleeping potion. This will give them time to plan her to escape to Mantua. Juliet takes the potion away, and the Friar writes to Romeo to explain.
Act 4 Scene II
Juliet returns to her father seeking forgiveness. He is so pleased that he moves the wedding to the next day.
Act 4 Scene III
Having sent the Nurse and her mother away, Juliet plucks up courage, and takes the Friar’s sleeping potion.
Act 4 Scene IV
Early in the morning the Capulets are still busy preparing for the wedding. Nurse is sent to wake Juliet to ready her for the ceremony.
Act 4 Scene V
The Nurse cannot rouse Juliet, and believes she is dead. Grief spreads quickly as the household discover the tragic scene. As wedding turns into funeral, Friar Lawrence arrives offering consolation and assistance.
A Summary of Romeo and Juliet Act 5
Act 5 Scene I
Balthasar takes the news of Juliet’s ‘death’ to Romeo in Mantua. Romeo resolves to return to Verona to die at her grave. He finds a poor apothecary willing to sell him poison.
Act 5 Scene II
Friar Lawrence hears that by misfortune his letter to Romeo was not delivered. He realises immediately that his plan has broken. He will hurry to Juliet’s tomb to be there when she awakes from the potion.
Act 5 Scene III
That night Paris is visiting Juliet’s tomb to mourn. Romeo and Balthasar arrive. Romeo breaks into the tomb alone, and when Paris challenges him, he is killed. At the sight of what he believes is Juliet, dead, Romeo takes the poison. Friar Lawrence rushes in, just as Juliet awakes, Romeo and Paris dead beside her. The Friar hears the watch coming and tries to persuade Juliet to leave. She refuses. He flees alone. Juliet looks on at the lifeless body of Romeo and tries the empty poison bottle. Just as the men arrive, she takes Romeo’s dagger and kills herself. Both Friar Lawrence and Balthasar are arrested. Prince Escalus, the Capulets and Lord Montague arrive. Friar Lawrence explains all to the Prince. Escalus reads Romeo’s letter and tells the feuding families to reflect. Driven by shared grief, Capulet and Montague reconcile. A statue to the tragic couple is promised.
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…BUY NOW at your local Amazon store: