Romeo and Juliet, a play written by William Shakespeare, the famous English playwright, depicts the tragic love story of Romeo Montagues and Juliet Capulet, despite an age-old vendetta and bloody feud between the two respectable families. Set in the city of Verona in Italy, the Montagues and the Capulets were bitter enemies for ages and despite the warning of Prince Escalus, the ruler of the city, to stop fighting or face the consequences, the fight never stopped and even their servants got into fights with each other at the slightest provocation. The story of the play is centred on Romeo, the teenage boy and the only child of the Montague family and Juliet, the beautiful 14-year-old daughter and also the only child of the Capulets.
One evening Romeo sneaked into a masked ball party at the Capulet's house, where he met Juliet and immediately they fell in love with each other. However, as Romeo was not aware of Juliet’s feelings for him and was desperate to talk to her frankly about his feelings for her, he took a daring decision and after the end of the party, he climbed the wall into the orchard garden of her family’s house and found her alone on her balcony murmuring her love for him. Romeo made himself known to her, as he became sure that Juliet was vowing her love for him in spite of her family's hatred of the Montagues and they agreed to be married. Consequently, with the hope that the two families would reconcile through their marriage, the two were married secretly the next day by Friar Laurence.
Meanwhile, Juliet’s cousin Tybalt became enraged as Romeo sneaked into the party and showered his attention on Juliet and vowed to take revenge for his daring act. He openly challenged Romeo to a duel, but Romeo refused to fight as after his marriage to Juliet, he considered Tybalt as his kinsman. However, Mercutio was offended by Tybalt's insolence and Romeo’s refusal to fight and accepted the duel on behalf of his friend. In the ensuing scuffle, Mercutio got fatally wounded and declared a curse upon both households before he died. Although Romeo tried his best to break up the fight, he got upset at the death of his friend and impelled by a code of friendship, he killed Tybalt.
Although Romeo’s cousin and best friend Benvolio argued that Romeo has justly executed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio, Prince of Verona, who had been insistent to cease the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, was compelled to take harsh action for the death of a kinsman in the family feud and banished Romeo to Mantua with the warning of execution in the case of his return. Romeo had no option, but to accept the verdict of the Prince and leave the city for the sake of his life. But before leaving the next morning, he took a great risk and secretly spent the night in the chamber of his lady love, where they consummate their marriage.
The banishment of Romeo from the city made Juliet remorse and upset. However, as the parents were unaware of Juliet’s secret marriage, they misinterpreted her grief and to cheer her up, arranged for her immediate marriage to the eminently eligible Count Paris, a cousin of the Prince, which made the situation worse for her. Terrified by the possibility of the imminent disaster of her love and life, Juliet vehemently opposed the marriage, only to be threatened of being disowned by her parents, if she dared to become the joyful bride of Paris. When she then pleaded with her mother for the marriage to be delayed, the mother univocally rejected her request, even without any second thought.
As all the roads to happiness seemed to be blocked for her, spotless and endless darkness seemed to be pervading throughout her world, Juliet desperately rushed to Friar Laurence, seeking his help to come out of the critical situation of her life. Friar, in his turn, offered her a potion that would put her into a deathlike sleep, making her appear to be dead for two and forty two hours. He also promised that, by that time, he would send a messenger to Romeo, informing him all about the situation, so that he could take necessary action to rescue her when she awoke.
As planned, Juliet took the potion on the night before the wedding and when she was discovered apparently dead, even after long hours, she was laid in the family crypt. However, Romeo got the news about Juliet from Balthasar, his servant, before Friar’s messenger reached him. The news broke Romeo’s heart and he rushed to Verona, after buying some poison and found a grieving Paris at Juliet’s tomb. As Paris confronted Romeo from entering the tomb, believing him to be an intruder, Romeo killed him reluctantly in the ensuing battle, before finding Juliet in the burial vault. There he kissed his beloved Juliet for the last time and believing her dead, he consumed poison to kill himself. When Juliet woke up after the end of the spell of the potion and found Romeo lying dead by her side, she stabbed herself with Romeo’s dagger to join him in death. The story of Romeo and Juliet ends, when the feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead and Friar Laurence recounted the story of the two star-crossed lovers, fulfilling the curse that Mercutio swore before his death. However, the sad end of the lovers, the children of the feuding families, compelled the respective families to reconcile and agreed to end the family enmity forever.
The plot of Romeo and Juliet is mainly based on a French translation of a tale by the Italian Matteo Bandello, translated into a long narrative poem named The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by English poet Arthur Brooke in 1562. Subsequently, it was retold in prose by William Painter as Palace of Pleasure in 1567. Romeo and Juliet, believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, was first published in a quarto version in 1597. Termed by many as the symbol of young lovers and doomed love, the play has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical and opera venues.