Romeo and Juliet Act 3 Scenes 1 to 5 summary

Antonia Blankenberg
Note by , created almost 2 years ago

As the action increases, ensure you understand what is going on in Romeo and Juliet Act 3 with this scene by scene plot overview.

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Antonia Blankenberg
Created by Antonia Blankenberg almost 2 years ago
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Page 1

Act 3 - Scene 1

As they walk in the street in hot summer weather, Benvolio suggests to Mercutio that they go indoors, fearing that a fight will be unavoidable if they were to meet the Capulets.    Tybalt arrives looking for Romeo because he wants to fight him. Benvolio wants to avoid a confrontation with the Capulets but Mercutio is provocative and tries to draw Tybalt into an argument so that they can fight.   Romeo appears and Tybalt starts to insults him, hoping he will fight, but Romeo refuses because he is now related to Tybalt through his marriage to Juliet.    Mercutio intervenes and declares that if Romeo will not fight Tybalt, he will. Mercutio and Tybalt begin to fight. Romeo, attempting to restore peace, throws himself between the combatants. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and as Mercutio falls, Tybalt and his men hurry away. Blinded by rage over Mercutio's death, Romeo attacks Tybalt and kills him.   Benvolio urges Romeo to run; a group of citizens outraged at the recurring street fights starts approaching. Romeo, shocked at what has been done, cries “O, I am fortune’s fool!” before fleeing the scene. Romeo is forced to flee a mob of citizens as the Prince, Montague, and Capulet arrive. Benvolio gives an account of what has happened, leading the Prince to banish Romeo from Verona under the penalty of death.    Analysis: The hopeful tone of Act 2 changes dramatically at the beginning of Act 3 as Romeo becomes involved in the brutal conflict between the families. The searing heat, flaring tempers, and sudden violence of this scene contrast sharply with the romantic, peaceful previous night. The intense violence also highlights the masculine world in which the play is set.    Until Mercutio dies, Romeo remains emotionally distinct from the other characters in the scene. He is happy after his recent marriage and his night with Juliet.    Romeo has shed his identity as a Montague and has become one with Juliet. His separation echoes the balcony scene where he said "Call me but love…Henceforth I never will be Romeo". However, Tybalt seeks revenge against Romeo because a Montague appeared at a Capulet feast. While Romeo no longer labels himself Montague, Tybalt still sees Romeo as standing on the wrong side of a clear line that divides the families.   Romeo’s cry, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” refers to his unluckiness in being forced to kill his new wife’s cousin, thereby getting himself banished. It also recalls the sense of fate that hangs over the play. Romeo blames fate, rather than his own actions, for what has happened to him.   Romeo's refusal to fight when Tybalt challenges him shows his separation from the typical modes of interaction between men at this time. This highlights his abandonment of traditional masculinity and a departure from the temporal and divisive perspective of the feud.    Important Quotes: "I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire. The day is hot; the Capulets, abroad; And if we meet we shall not ’scape a brawl, For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring." - Benvolio   "O calm dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stoccata carries it away.  Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?" - Mercutio   "I am hurt. A plague o' both your houses! I am sped."- Mercutio   “O, I am fortune’s fool!” - Romeo

Page 2

Act 3 - Scene 2

Juliet waits impatiently for night to fall so that she can celebrate her wedding night with Romeo. The Nurse arrives and in her grief, misleads Juliet into thinking that Romeo has been killed.   The Nurse then begins to talk about Tybalt’s death, and Juliet briefly fears that both Romeo and Tybalt are dead. When the story is set straight and Juliet understands that Romeo has killed Tybalt and been sentenced to exile, she curses nature for what has happened.   The Nurse curses Romeo’s name, but Juliet denounces her for criticizing her new husband. Juliet claims that Romeo’s banishment is worse than ten thousand slain Tybalts. She laments that she will die without a wedding night, a maiden-widow.   The Nurse tells Juliet that Romeo is hiding at Friar Laurence's cell and Juliet sends the Nurse with a ring, bidding Romeo to come and say goodbye.   Analysis: Juliet's impatience in anticipation of the nurse's arrival is similar to that of when she had to wait for news of the wedding arrangements. A considerable sense of impending doom hangs in the atmosphere. Although she is unaware of the tragic news that awaits her, Juliet's soliloquy fantasizing about her wedding night creates tragic imagery.   Shakespeare interestingly links intensity of young love with a suicidal impulse. Though love is generally the opposite of violence, and death, he portrays self-annihilation as the only response to the emotional experience that being young and in love constitutes. Shakespeare plays with the idea of death throughout the play, and the possibility of suicide recurs often, foreshadowing the deaths of the protagonists in Act 5. When Juliet misunderstands the Nurse and thinks that Romeo is dead, she does not think that he was killed, but that he killed himself. And thinking that Romeo is dead, Juliet quickly decides that she too must die.    Light and dark imagery again play important role in this scene. Juliet beckons the darkness because it has been a sanctuary for the couple, "if love be blind, / It best agrees with night".   Juliet feels conflicted because her love for Romeo clashes with her love and sense of duty to Tybalt, her cousin. Juliet expresses her conflicting emotions for Romeo using oxymoronic language: "Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical".   The Nurse's inability to comprehend the intensity of Juliet's love for Romeo shows a development in her relationship with Juliet, who is emerging as a young woman with her own opinions and emotions. She no longer relies on her Nurse for maternal guidance. This foreshadows their eventual split in Act 3, Scene 5.   Important Quotes: "Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical! Dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb! Despisèd substance of divinest show, Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st. A damnèd saint, an honorable villain!" - Juliet   "That “banishèd,” that one word “banishèd” Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts." - Juliet

Page 3

Act 3 - Scene 3

In Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo is overcome with grief. Friar Lawrence tells him he is lucky and that the Prince has only banished him. Romeo is distraught because he regards banishment as a form of living death when he cannot be with Juliet. The Friar tries to reason with Romeo, but he is inconsolable.   The Nurse arrives, and Romeo desperately asks her for news of Juliet. He assumes that Juliet now thinks of him as a murderer and threatens to stab himself. The Friar advises Romeo to go to Juliet that night as he had planned and then flee to Mantua before daybreak.   The Nurse hands Romeo Juliet's ring, this physical symbol of their love revives his spirits. The Nurse departs, and Romeo bids Friar Lawrence farewell. He must prepare to visit Juliet and then flee to Mantua.   Analysis: This scene parallels the previous scene where Juliet reacted to the news of Romeo's banishment with forceful emotion, yet controlled expressions of grief. In contrast, Romeo responds to his banishment with wailing hysteria and a failed suicide attempt. This shows that Juliet is far more emotionally mature than her husband.   Romeo's threats of suicide continue Shakespeare's link between love and suicide from the previous scene.   The struggle between young and old continues in this scene. Romeo claims that the Friar can't understand the grief he faces because he has not gone through the same thing.   Important Quotes: "There is no world without Verona walls But purgatory, torture, hell itself. Hence “banishèd” is banished from the world, And world’s exile is death." - Romeo   "Thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel. Wert thou as young as I, Juliet thy love, An hour but married, Tybalt murderèd, Doting like me, and like me banishèd, Then mightst thou speak, then mightst thou tear thy hair And fall upon the ground, as I do now, Taking the measure of an unmade grave." - Romeo

Page 4

Act 3 - Scene 4

Capulet and Paris discuss how Juliet's grief over Tybalt's death has prevented Paris from continuing his courtship of Juliet. Paris is about to leave when Capulet calls him back and makes what he calls “a desperate tender of my child’s love”.   He tells Paris that Juliet will obey his patriarchal wishes and marry Paris on Thursday (three days in the future). Paris eagerly agrees to the arrangements, and Lady Capulet is sent to tell Juliet the good news.   Analysis: The clash between youth and old age is further explored in this scene when Juliet's father suddenly decides that she should marry Paris as soon as possible. This scene also highlights the powerlessness of women in this society.   Capulet’s reasons for moving up the date of Juliet’s marriage to Paris are not altogether clear. In later scenes, he states that he desires to bring some joy into a sad time, and to want to cure Juliet of her deep mourning. Unknown to Capulet, however, Juliet mourns her husband’s banishment and not Tybalt’s death. It's also possible that in the escalating fight with the Montagues, Capulet wants all the political help he can get. A marriage between his daughter and Paris, a close kinsman to the Prince, would go a long way in this regard.    The repeated mentioning of days in this scene heightens the sense of urgency and panic from Lord Capulet.    Ironically, Juliet's defiance of her family is matched by Capulet's defiance of his word to Paris. Before the feast in Act 1, he had said that Paris can only have Juliet's hand if she agrees, but know he is forcing this marriage on her.   Important Quotes: "Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender Of my child’s love. I think she will be ruled In all respects by me. " - Lord Capulet

Page 5

Act 3 - Scene 5

As dawn approaches, Romeo prepares to leave Juliet and flee to Mantua. Juliet tries to convince him to stay, insisting that the bird they hear is the nightingale and not the lark. However, Romeo insists that he has to flee.   The nurse warns the couple that Lady Capulet is approaching to talk to Juliet, meaning that Romeo has to swiftly depart.    Juliet's mother arrives and, believing that Juliet weeps for Tybalt, tries to comfort Juliet with her plan to have Romeo poisoned.    Lady Capulet tells Juliet about Lord Capulet’s plan for her to marry Paris on Thursday, explaining that he wishes to make her happy. Juliet is shocked and refuses to do so.    Juliet's father enters, expecting to hear good news. When he learns of Juliet’s defiance of him, he becomes enraged and threatens to disown her. When Juliet entreats her mother to intercede, her mother denies her help.   The scene concludes with the Nurse advising Juliet to obey her father. Juliet decides to leave her behind and resolves to seek the advice of Friar Lawrence.   Analysis: The approaching dawn at the beginning of this scene continues the battling themes of light and darkness. Here, the sunrise separates the protagonists of the play for good. Interestingly, this scene contrasts previous descriptions of Juliet. In earlier scenes, Romeo describes Juliet as the sun, bringing light and warmth. In this scene, they want the night to stay, so Juliet calls on the nightingale, comparing Juliet to the night.   The speech that Lady Capulet gives about wanting to poison Romeo foreshadows his death towards the end of the play. She is displayed here as cold and vengeful, this completely contrasts Juliet's behaviour.    In the confrontation with her parents, Juliet shows her full maturity. She dominates the conversation with her mother, who cannot keep up with Juliet’s intelligence and therefore has no idea that Juliet is proclaiming her love for Romeo under the guise of saying just the opposite. Interestingly, this maturity is introduced directly after Juliet's wedding the previous day.   This scene displays the Capulets' parenting methods, none of which are successful in raising Juliet.    Important Quotes: " It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear. Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree. Believe me, love, it was the nightingale." - Juliet   "O fortune, fortune! All men call thee fickle. If thou art fickle, what dost thou with him That is renowned for faith? Be fickle, fortune, For then, I hope, thou wilt not keep him long, But send him back." - Juliet   "Now, by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too, He shall not make me there a joyful bride. I wonder at this haste, that I must wed Ere he, that should be husband, comes to woo. I pray you, tell my lord and father, madam, I will not marry yet. And when I do, I swear It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, Rather than Paris. These are news indeed". - Juliet   "Ay, sir, but she will none, she gives you thanks. I would the fool were married to her grave!" - Lady Capulet