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Romeo and Juliet

Character summaries from Shakespeare's timeless love story

Romeo and Juliet Main Characters

The passionate, the witty, the proud, the loyal: learn what makes the characters from Romeo and Juliet so beloved.

Romeo RSC Cropped

Romeo

Romeo is the teenage son of the Montague family, who are busy feuding with the Capulets. In the beginning, Romeo is brooding over his unrequited love for Rosaline. When he sees Juliet at a party, Romeo instantly falls in love with her instead. They impulsively decide to marry the next day. Romeo initially refuses to fight Juliet’s cousin Tybalt; but when Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo avenges his friend’s death and kills him. He is banished as a result. Later, believing Juliet to be dead, he kills the mourning Paris, drinks poison and dies.

O true apothecary, / Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die

— Romeo; Act 5 Scene 3

Juliet

Juliet Capulet, on the cusp of 14 years old, falls in love with Romeo, the son of her family’s enemy. She subsequently proposes marriage. With the help of Nurse, her guardian, they are secretly married. However, in the wake of Tybalt’s death (and ignorant of her marriage to Romeo) Lord Capulet arranges for Juliet to marry Count Paris the next day. Cut off from all support except for that of Friar Laurence, she takes a sleeping draught to fake her own death, hoping to reunite with Romeo. When she wakes to find him dead beside her, she stabs herself.

Parting is such sweet sorrow / That I shall say good night till it be morrow

— Juliet; Act 2 Scene 1
Friar Laurence

Friar Laurence

Friar Laurence is a Franciscan friar and a mentor to Romeo and Juliet. He secretly marries them, hoping to broker peace between the two families. The Friar later arranges for a banished Romeo to spend the night with Juliet before he leaves. He prepares a potion for Juliet in order to fake her death, avoid marriage to Paris, and reunite with Romeo, but his warning message to Romeo never reaches him. When Juliet finds Romeo dead, the Friar fruitlessly tries to convince her to leave the tomb. He is initially suspected of her murder but soon freed.

These violent delights have violent ends

— Friar Laurence; Act 4 Scene 5

The Nurse

The widowed Nurse is a loyal companion to Juliet, having cared for her since she was a baby. Her long-winded stories, raunchy comments, and distaste for men generally serve as comic relief throughout the play. She helps to arrange Juliet and Romeo’s secret marriage and often acts as an intermediary between them. The Nurse tries to stand up for Juliet when her family cuts her off; however she later advises Juliet to marry Count Paris—which is ultimately the cause of the falling out between the two. She deeply grieves over Juliet’s death.

She's dead, deceased, she's dead; alack the day!

— Nurse; Act 4 Scene 5
Mercutio

Mercutio

Mercutio is a relative of the Prince of Verona and a close friend to Romeo. His volatile nature, quick wit, and saucy wordplay serve as comic relief throughout the play. At the beginning of the play, he attends the Capulets’ party with Romeo and Benvolio. When Tybalt challenges Romeo and the latter refuses to fight back, Mercutio immediately attacks Tybalt. Finally, when Romeo tries to intervene, Mercutio is wounded and dies after cursing both families for their futile feuding. His death is a catalyst for the tragedies that follow.

A plague o’ both your houses

— Mercutio; Act 3 Scene 1

Tybalt

Tybalt is the nephew of Lady Capulet and Juliet’s cousin. The Nurse also considers him her best friend. Hot-headed and proud, Tybalt is always a troublemaker. Mercutio mockingly calls him 'the prince of cats'! Discovering the Montague boys at the Capulets’ party, he is eager to fight but is restrained by Lord Capulet. He later formally challenges Romeo, but Romeo refuses to fight. Mercutio fights Tybalt instead and is mortally wounded. Tybalt escapes the scene pursued by a vengeful Romeo and is slayed by his hand. His death is the cause of Romeo’s banishment.

This, by his voice, should be a Montague.— Fetch me my rapier, boy

— Tybalt; Act 1 Scene 5


Romeo and Juliet Minor Characters

Escalus, Prince of Verona
Paris
Page

Montagues

Montague
Lady Montague
Benvolio
Abram
Balthasar

Capulets

Capulet
Lady Capulet
Follower
Cousin Capulet
Peter
Sampson
Gregory
Servant
Servingmen

Other

Friar John
The Apothecary
Fiddler and Musician's
The Watch
Citizens
The Chorus

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