Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 1 Full Summary| Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 1 Summary

Two of the Capulet family’s servants are walking in the town of Verona, Italy. Sampson is complaining about the Montague family and their servants.

He says he will not take any more insults from them without getting angry. Gregory says that Sampson talks a lot, but he will probably run away if there is a problem.

Sampson says he will stand. If he sees someone from the Montague house, he will walk next to the buildings and make the other man walk in the middle of the street.

Gregory says that only weak people get pushed up against walls. Sampson agrees that women get pushed against walls [so men can sexually molest them].

He will push Montague men into the street and push Montague women against walls. Gregory says the fight is between the Capulet and Montague families and the servants for each house.

Sampson says he will fight the Montague men and take uug1 the virginity of the Montague women. He brags about his sexual strength, but Gregory just Sampson makes fun of him.

As they joke about sex, they look up and see two servants from the Montague family. Gregory tells Sampson to pull out his “tool.” Sampson says he will pull out his “naked weapon” and back up Gregory.

Note: Shakespeare is showing that men use different weapons for different purposes: sex is used against women and swords are used against men.

Shakespeare is also comparing a man’s sexual organ to a sword and sex to fighting. Shakespeare knew that his audiences liked sex and violence.

Gregory decides to frown at the Montague servants and Sampson decides to make an insulting gesture by biting his thumb. (In that time, it was like flipping someone off.) They hope to start a fight, but not to get in trouble for making the first violent act.

Abram asks if Sampson is biting his thumb at him and his friend. Sampson acts innocent. Gregory asks Abram if he is trying to start a fight, and Abram says no.

Gregory whispers to Sampson that he sees Balthasar Tybalt, Lady Capulet’s nephew, coming. The three then start arguing about who has the better employer, and Sampson tells the Montague servants to draw their swords (pull them out.)

Lord Montague’s nephew, Benvolio, walks up. He pulls out his sword and tells everyone to put their swords away and stop fighting.

Tybalt, Lady Capulet’s nephew, walks up. He thinks Benvolio is attacking Capulet servants. Tybalt says he will kill Benvolio.

Benvolio says that he is trying to keep the peace, but Tybalt is angry. They fight. Citizens, some carrying clubs, shout out, “Beat them down! Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!”

Lord and Lady Capulet arrive. Lord Capulet wants a sword, but his wife says he is too old to fight. She says that he really needs a crutch to help himself walk.

Lord Capulet sees Lord Montague arriving with Lady Montague. Now Lord Capulet really wants a sword because Lord Montague has one. Lady Capulet holds her husband back and tells him that he will not fight. Lady Montague holds her husband back, too.

Prince Escalus and his men arrive. The Prince says that the fighters are enemies of peace and orders everyone to put down their weapons.

The Prince says he is tired of men who “quench the fire of [their).. rage with purple fountains issuing from [their] veins.” The Prince believes in law and order, not ending anger with bloody fights. He says he will have anyone who does not stop fighting tortured.

The Prince says that the Capulets and Montagues have caused riots in the city of Verona three times and the citizens have had to use weapons to try to stop the fighting.

The Prince says that if the Capulets or Montagues ever disturb the streets of the city again, he will have them killed.

He tells Capulet to come with him and tells Montague to come to the Free-town court in the afternoon. He orders everyone to leave or he will have them killed.

Everyone leaves immediately, except for Lord and Lady Montague and Benvolio. Montague wants to know who started the fight.

Benvolio says that he had seen Montague and Capulet servants fighting and he had tried to stop them, but then Tybalt had pulled out his sword. He says he does not know who started the fight.

Lady Montague wants to know if Benvolio has seen her son Romeo. Benvolio says he had seen Romeo one hour before dawn. Benvolio had been upset and had gone for a walk.

Romeo had seen Benvolio but had hidden in the forest. Benvolio had thought Romeo had wanted to be alone, so Benvolio had not gone to Romeo.

Montague says that others have said that Romeo has been spending time in the sycamore forest. (Shakespeare’s audiences liked wordplay. Romeo is in a sycamore forest because he is “sick” with “amour”- French for “love.” The audience knows Romeo is love-sick, but the characters do not.)

Romeo walks sadly in the forest until the sun pulls back “the curtains from Aurora’s bed” (Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn.)

Then Romeo would return home and make an “artificial night” by closing his curtains. He would sit sadly in the dark. Benvolio and Montague do not know why Romeo is so sad.

They do not know why he stays out all night and then returns home to spend the day in a dark room. Montague says his son is like a flower bud that will not open because a worm has destroyed it. He thinks a wise person must help his son or there will be bad news.

Benvolio asks his uncle if he has tried to get Romeo to explain why he is sad, and his uncle says he has. Benvolio sees Romeo coming and tells his uncle and aunt to leave, so Benvolio can try to find out what is bothering Romeo. Lord and Lady Montague leave.

Romeo walks up and Benvolio says good morning. Romeo is surprised that it is still morning. He tells Benvolio that time passes by
slowly when a person is sad. Benvolio asks why Romeo is sad and what causes his hours to be so long.

Romeo says that he does not have the thing that makes hours short [Notes: He means a woman’s love]. Benvolio asks Romeo if he is in love.

Romeo says he is in love, but the girl does not love him back. Benvolio says that love seems nice, but it can be very difficult. Romeo says it is strange that Iove is blind, but it can control people.

(Note: Cupid – the god of love is often shown in art and literature as being blind. He shoots arrows that make people fall in love, but sometimes his arrows hit the wrong targets. Then only one person loves, and that love is not returned.)

Romeo sees blood on the ground and asks what fight has happened. Then Romeo says Benvolio does not need to tell him what the fight was about.

Fights result from “brawling love” and “Loving hate.” Romeo says love comes out of nothing and it is a “heavy lightness” and a “serious vanity.”

Love is a “feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,” and “still-waking sleep.”

(Note: Romeo thinks love makes a person feel every emotion. He thinks Love is full of opposites and cannot be understood. Readers should think about how love, something viewed as good can cause someone to fight and kill.)

Romeo asks if Benvolio is laughing at him and his ideas about love. Benvolio says he is not laughing. Benvolio is crying about Romeo being so sad.

Romeo says that love brings sadness and Benvolio’s sadness only adds to Romeo’s. Shakespeare has Romeo make more metaphors about love.

Romeo says that “love is smoke” from lovers’ “sighs.” When love doesn’t go well, lovers can make an ocean with their tears. Love is “madness.” Love is a sweet candy you choke on.

Note: The author of Romeo and Juliet is William Shakespeare. One reason that people have enjoyed Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for hundreds of years is that he teaches readers truths about life and human emotions in an interesting way. His metaphors make direct comparisons that make us think.

Shakespeare’s Love Metaphors: Love is blind, Love is brawling [fighting], Love is a feather of lead, Love is smoke from lovers’ sighs,  Unhappy lovers cry an ocean of tears, Love is madness, Love is a piece of candy you choke on.

Shakespeare also gets the attention of his audience by using oxymorons. Oxymorons are made by putting together two words that are opposites, but which can describe a real thing.

By doing this, Shakespeare lets us think about times in our lives when oxymorons really do describe the situations in which we find ourselves.

Shakespeare’s Oxymorons: Loving hate And Heavy lightness.

Situations Fitting Oxymorons: Our parents might refuse to give us permission do to something and they hate to upset us, but they love to protect us.

OR

We might see someone doing something mean and we learn we love to hate evil people. We feel light when we are happy, but we feel heavy knowing our happiness will end.

Romeo says goodbye to his cousin Benvolio, but Benvolio says he wants to go with Romeo. They continue talking and Benvolio asks Romeo to tell him the name of the girl whom Romeo loves.

Romeo says he loves a woman – a beautiful one. Benvolio says he knows that, but he wants to know who it is. Benvolio says it makes sense that Romeo’s girl is pretty because pretty targets are the first ones that are hit.

(Note: Romeo and Benvolio are speaking about this girl as if she is an object, a target, that Romeo wants Cupid’s arrow to hit, so she will love Romeo back.)

Romeo says he can’t get the girl to love him. She won’t accept his loving words or his gifts. She is a virgin and plans to stay a virgin and not accept kisses and sex.

Romeo says the girl is wasting her beauty. When she dies, her beauty will be gone. Romeo says that the girl is also wasting her beauty by not having sex. No sex means she will not pass her beauty on to future generations.

Romeo says the girl’s actions have left him alive to speak about her, but he feels dead because he needs the girl’s love.

Benvolio says Romeo should stop thinking about the girl. Romeo asks Benvolio to teach him how to not think. Benvolio says Romeo can stop thinking if he uses his eyes to look at other pretty girls.

Romeo says that seeing other beautiful girls will only make him think of how much more beautiful his girl is. When a girl wears a black
mask, a boy wants to see the beauty hidden under that mask.

When a blind man loses his sight, he never forgets having it. If Romeo sees another beautiful girl, it will be like getting a written note reminding him that his girl is the most beautiful of all.

Romeo says Benvolio cannot teach him how to forget his girl. Benvolio says he will teach Romeo how to forget the girl or Benvolio will die trying.

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