The play opens with servants from both houses engaged in a street brawl that eventually draws in the family patriarchs and the city officials
The play opens with servants from both houses engaged in a street brawl that eventually draws in the family patriarchs and the city officials, including Prince Escalus. The Prince ends the conflict by issuing a decree that prohibits any further fighting at the risk of great punishment. Meanwhile, Romeo, a young man from the Montague house, laments his unrequited love for a woman named Rosaline, who has vowed to remain chaste for the rest of her life. Romeo helps Peter read the list and decides to attend the party because Rosaline will be there. She warns him to be true in his love, and he swears by his own self that he will be.
Mercutio is eloquently vague, but Romeo happens to arrive in the middle of the verbal sparring. Tybalt challenges him, but Romeo passively resists fighting, at which point Mercutio jumps in and draws his sword on Tybalt. Romeo tries to block the two men, but Tybalt cuts Mercutio and runs away, only to return after he hears that Mercutio has died. Romeo travels to Mantua, where he waits for someone to send news about Juliet or his banishment. When both Lady Capulet and the Nurse refuse to intercede for the girl, she insists that they leave her side. Juliet then visits Friar Laurence, and together they concoct a plan to reunite her with Romeo. The Friar gives Juliet a potion that will make her seem dead for at least two days, during which time Romeo will come to meet her in the Capulet vault. The Friar promises to send word of the plan to Romeo. As soon as Friar Laurence realizes that his letter never made it to Romeo’s hands, he rushes to the Capulet tomb, hoping to arrive before Romeo does.