Romeo and Juliet Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}


Romeo and Juliet Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Romeo and Juliet Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary| Romeo and Juliet Act 5, Scene 1 Summary

Romeo is in Mantua. He is in love, and he has had good dreams. He thinks he will be getting good news. He says that all day a “spirit” has been lifting him “above the ground with cheerful thoughts.”

Romeo says his dream was strange. He dreamt that his lady had found him dead, but she kissed him and brought him back to life. Then he became an emperor. Romeo says love is very “sweet” when even love’s shadows (his dreams) are so “rich in joy.”

Balthasar, Romeo’s servant comes to Mantua with a message. Romeo excitedly exclaims, “News from Verona!” Romeo asks if Balthasar has brought letters from the Friar. Then he asks how Juliet is.

Then he asks how his father is. Then he asks again about Juliet and says he is asking again because “nothing can be ill if she is well.”

Balthasar says, “Then she is well, and nothing can be ill.” He says that Juliet’s body is in the Capulet tomb (monument building) and the immortal part of her (her soul) is with the angels in heaven.


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Balthasar says he saw Juliet’s body being put into the tomb, and he came to Romeo to tell him. He says his job was to bring Romeo news, and he asks Romeo to forgive him for bringing bad news.

Romeo asks if it is true. When he sees in Balthasar’s face that it is true that Juliet is dead, Romeo shouts out, “Then I defy you stars!” (Romeo will not wait for God and heaven to decide when he should die. He plans to kill himself and join Juliet.)

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Romeo tells Balthasar to bring ink, paper, and horses to the place where Romeo is staying. Romeo says he will go to Verona that night. Balthasar asks Romeo to “have patience.” He says Romeo looks “pale and wild” and like he is going on a “misadventure.”

Romeo says Balthasar is incorrect. Romeo tells Balthasar to go and do what Romeo has told him to do. Before Balthasar leaves, Romeo asks him again if he has any letters from the Friar.

Balthasar says he does not have any letters from the Friar. He leaves. Romeo talks aloud to Juliet, imagining her in heaven.

He tells her he will find a way to “lie with her” that night. Romeo says “mischief” (trouble) is quick to enter the “the thoughts of desperate men.” Romeo remembers an “apothecary” (a druggist or pharmacist) who lives nearby.

Romeo remembers that the apothecary looked poor and tired. He had big eyebrows. He was dressed in old clothes. He did not have very much in his shop.

He had an old stuffed alligator, some pots, fish skins, and some herbs. He looked like he would do almost anything for money.

Romeo remembers that when he had seen the apothecary, he had thought that if someone needed poison, this apothecary would probably sell it. The apothecary would be killed if he were caught selling poison, but since he was so poor, he might sell it anyway.

Romeo says he had thought of poison before he ever needed it. Now the day has come when Romeo does need the poison. Romeo says the poor apothecary must sell the poison to him.

Romeo sees that the apothecary shop is closed because it is a holiday, so he shouts out, “What ho! Apothecary!” The apothecary asks who is calling for him so loudly.

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Romeo tells the apothecary to come out to him. The apothecary does come out. Romeo tells the apothecary that he will give him forty ducats (40 gold coins) if the apothecary will sell him a dram (1/8 ounce) of poison.

Romeo tells the apothecary that he wants to poison that will take his breath away as fast as a shot fired from “a cannon’s womb., The apothecary says he does have the poison Romeo wants, but the law in Mantua says the apothecary will be killed for selling it.

Romeo says the apothecary is poor and miserable, so he should not be afraid to die. Romeo says he can see that the apothecary’s cheeks are thin because he is hungry.

Romeo says he can see the hunger in the man’s eyes. Romeo says the world is not the apothecary’s friend, and the world’s law is not his friend.

Romeo says that since the world has no law to make the apothecary rich, the apothecary should break the law, sell the poison, take Romeo’s money, and become rich.

The apothecary says, “My poverty, but not my will, consents.” (The apothecary sells the poison to Romeo, but only because he is so poor. He does not want to sell the poison.)

Romeo says he is paying the apothecary’s poverty, not his will. (He understands the man does not want to sell the poison.) The apothecary gives Romeo the poison and tells him to put it in any liquid and drink it.

He says that even if Romeo were as strong as twenty men, the poison would kill him immediately. Romeo gives the apothecary forty gold coins.

Romeo tells the apothecary, “There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls, Doing more murders in this loathsome world, Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.”

(Romeo is saying that money kills more souls and people than poisons do.) Romeo says that he is the one who has sold poison, not the apothecary. He tells the apothecary to buy some food, so he won’t be so thin.

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Romeo talks to the poison he has bought. He tells it that it is not poison. He says it is “cordial,” something that will make him well again because he will be able to join Juliet in death. Romeo says he will take the cordial to Juliet’s grave to drink it, and he leaves.

Note: This scene can really make people think. When Romeo says he wants to die quickly as if he has been hit by a shot from “a cannon’s womb,” people think about how a cannon is like a woman’s womb.

Both carry something inside. That which is inside coming out. At first, people might find it difficult to see how a cannon that carries death can be like a pregnant woman who carries life.

An argument can be made, however, that the cannon makes fire live and die. A woman gives birth to a baby who must live and die. Another unusual comparison is between money and poison.

It is interesting to think that Romeo is correct when he says money causes more death than poison. The unusual comparisons in this scene explain why people have been interested in Shakespeare’s words for hundreds of years.

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