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Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)


William Shakespeare




Presumably in London in 1597, there is no more precise information available


One of Shakespeare's best-known plays, probably the most famous love drama of all time; versatile reception of the material, including West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein.

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Roles and characters

Romeo Montague: Son of a noble family from Verona, male protagonist of the play. Romeo is unhappily in love with Rosaline at the beginning of the plot - until he meets Juliet. Romeo is a contradictory character; he is passionate and romantic, looking for the good. When he falls madly in love with Juliet, he suddenly gains the courage to break out of his environment and peacefully confront the hostile Montague family, although - the tragic mistake that leads to his downfall - he falls back into the old enmity at an all-important moment and murders Tybalt Montague.

Julia Capulet: The young, beautiful daughter of the House of Capulet (the hostile family of the House of Montague), female protagonist of the drama. Juliet's parents want her to marry Count Paris. Juliet is still very childlike at the beginning of the play and will not consent to any marriage. When she meets Romeo and falls in love with him, she is at first shocked by his family affiliation, but quickly learns through the power of her irrevocable love to see past the feud and eventually even turn against her family.

Tybalt: Juliet's cousin, always involved in arguments between the families, choleric and quarrelsome.

Mercutio: Romeo's friend, a nobleman, on the side of the Montague family, quick-witted and witty.

Benvolio: Romeo's other companion in the play, more serious and good-natured than Mercutio, less easily provoked.

Friar Lorenzo: The lovers' confidant; he tries to be the voice of reason for the two young, passionate people, helping them hatch a plan to marry them off in secret.

Count Capulet: Hot-headed and irrational, wants to marry his daughter off to Count Paris at any cost, changeable and volatile in his behaviour.

Countess Capulet: Power-hungry, wants to marry Juliet to Count Paris and also uses her husband to enforce this strictly.

Count Paris: The man who wants to marry Juliet, with the support of Count and Countess Capulet.

Nurse: Juliet's confidante, raised the girl, talkative, good-natured, initially an ambassador between the two lovers, though afterwards she loses Juliet's trust by also urging marriage to Paris.

Rosalin(d)e: A beautiful young woman who wants to enter a convent and is therefore unattainable for Romeo.


Verona, 16th century. The Capulet and Montague families have been enemies for years. This discord is fuelled by more and more clashes and fights.
The Capulet family give a costume party to celebrate the engagement of their 14-year-old daughter Julia. Among those present is young Romeo Montague. Romeo and Juliet meet, not knowing who they are dealing with. It is love at first sight. Only at the end of the evening do they both learn, to their horror, that their new encounter is a member of the enemy family. Shortly afterwards, Romeo secretly visits Juliet in the night and the two lovers decide to marry, against the wishes of their families. To this end, Romeo asks the friendly Father Lorenzo for advice and help. The priest agrees and Romeo sends Juliet the message that she should go to Friar Lorenzo for the wedding that very afternoon. There he marries her in secret. At the same time, a fight breaks out in the streets between the opposing families, in the course of which Juliet's cousin Tybalt fatally wounds Romeo's cousin Mercutio. In revenge, Romeo kills Tybalt, and is then forced into hiding. Together with Father Lorenzo, he hatches an escape plan before going to Juliet's to spend their wedding night as a farewell. The next morning, the unknowing parents insist on marrying their daughter to her fiancé Paris. Juliet, in desperation, agrees to a daring plan by Father Lorenzo: she is to take a potion that will put her in a death-like state for a short time, then Romeo is to meet her in the family crypt so they can escape together. But the plan goes awry: the messenger who is to deliver Romeo's letter of explanation is delayed, so when Romeo hears the news of Juliet's death, he thinks she has actually died. Romeo buys a poison potion, returns to Verona and breaks open Juliet's grave to say goodbye to her and kill himself. He takes the poison and dies. When Juliet awakens and sees Romeo lying dead beside her, she stabs herself with a dagger and also dies. This tragedy eventually leads to reconciliation between the two families.


Romeo and Juliet (Movie 1968)

Franco Zeffirelli's film version is considered the most authentic, it was even shot on the original locations in Verona and won several Oscars.

Romeo and Juliet (Movie 1996)

The well-known 1996 film adaptation by Baz Luhrman combines the original text of the play with the (then contemporary) setting of the 1990s. The main roles are played by Claire Danes and Leonardo di Caprio.


Shakespeare, William: Romeo und Juliet

Nachtmann, Julia: Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare for young and old

A beautifully illustrated, abridged edition

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