Filmsite Movie Review
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Act III, Scene 2:

As Juliet awaits Romeo, the Nurse mourns the loss of Tybalt - a tragic loss for the Capulet family. And then Juliet learns that "Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood." She is aghast: "Oh, serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face! Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound?" When the Nurse curses Romeo: "Shame come to Romeo," Juliet comes to her senses and defends her husband, declaring that he was "not born to shame" and refusing to "speak ill" of him:

Blistered be thy tongue for such a wish. He was not born to shame. Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit...Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband? Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name, when I thy three-hours wife have mangled it? But wherefore villain, didst thou kill my cousin?

[Action returns to Act III, Scene 1:]

As the result of two accidental deaths, the Capulets carry the body of Tybalt, and the Montagues carry the body of Mercutio through the streets to the Prince. The two bodies are laid on the stones for the Prince to make a just judgment. Both sides cry for vengeance. Although Lady Capulet claims that "for blood of ours shed blood of Montague," Benvolio asserts that Tybalt "began this bloody fray." Prejudiced, Lady Capulet asks for Romeo's death: "Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live." The Prince asks: "Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?" Lord Montague (Antonio Pierfederici) answers that Romeo punished Tybalt, as the law would repay him, for slaying his friend: "Not Romeo, Prince, he was Mercutio's friend. His fault concludes but what the law should end. The life of Tybalt." After listening to both sides and without any more leniency for the feuding households, the Prince concludes that Romeo should be exiled immediately from Verona - otherwise he will die if caught: "And for that offence, immediately we do exile him hence. Let Romeo hence in haste, else, when he's found, that hour is his last."

Act III, Scene 3:

In the safety of Friar Laurence's cell, Romeo lies on the ground in despair. He sobs over the Prince's punishment - his banishment - and death to his love for Juliet: "O banishment, be merciful, say death; do not say banishment...There is no world without Verona walls." The Nurse arrives on an "errand" from Lady Juliet, who is also in a pitiful state of "blubbering and weeping, weeping and blubbering." Romeo asks about Juliet and her reactions: "How is it with her? Does she not think me an old murderer? Where is she? How doth she? What says my concealed lady to our cancelled love?" She replies that Juliet is crying over both Tybalt's name and Romeo's name. Miserable over his fate and believing that his own name means death to Juliet ("As if that name did murder her...tell me in what vile part of this anatomy doth my name lodge?") Romeo pulls shears from a gardening basket to stab himself to hasten his own death - the Friar grabs his "desperate hand" and suppresses his morbid desire. The wise priest lectures the young boy on his impetuosity, womanly attitude, and lack of maturity and temperance:

Thou hast amazed me. Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art. Thy tears are womanish, thy wild acts denote the unreasonable fury of a beast. Hast thou slain Tybalt? Wilt thou slay thyself, and slay thy lady, that on thy life lives by doing damned hate upon thyself?

Furthermore, he reminds Romeo of his "pack of blessings," that he should be happy that Juliet is alive, that Tybalt is dead (and not himself), and that he hasn't been executed but exiled:

Thy Juliet is alive. There art thou happy!
Tybalt would kill thee, but thou slewest Tybalt. There art thou happy!
The law that threatened death becomes thy friend and turns it to exile. There art thou happy!

His next advice is for Romeo to go to Juliet, comfort her, and then cautiously leave in the early dawn before detection for the nearby town of Mantua. There, he should wait until a time can be found to call him back for a return to his marriage, reconciliation between the families, and a pardon from the Prince:

Ascend her chamber, hence, and comfort her. But look thou stay not till the watch be set, for then thou canst not pass to Mantua, where thou shalt live till we find a time to blaze your marriage, reconcile your friends, beg pardon of the Prince, and call thee home with twenty hundred thousand times more joy than thou wentest forth in lamentation.

He instructs the Nurse to return to the Capulet household, with news for Juliet that "Romeo's coming."

[Act III, Scene 4: This short scene was dropped from this version of the Shakespearean play. In the play, Juliet's hand is promised to Paris by Lord and Lady Capulet, after an appropriate time of mourning for Tybalt's death.]

Act III, Scene 5:

After a night of glorious love to consummate their marriage, Romeo and Juliet lie naked together, still asleep in Juliet's bedchamber. Romeo awakens first with the singing of birds, softly kisses his love, stands naked by the window and prepares to take his leave. She wishes that he would not depart and tries to persuade him that they have only heard the nightingale and not the early morning singing of the lark:

Wilt thou be gone? 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 yond pomegranate tree. Oh, believe me love, it was the nightingale.

Romeo knows better, and points out that the bright light is already breaking over the tallest mountain tops, warning him to flee. But he would rather stay and be put to death, if his love wishes so:

It was the lark, the herald of the morn, no nightingale. Night's candles are burnt out. (They kiss) And jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops. I must be gone and live, or stay and die...(He returns to her bed and caresses her) Let me be taken, let me be put to death. I am content so thou wilt have it so. I'll say yon grey is not the morning's eye, nor that is not the lark whose notes do beat the vaulty heavens so high above our heads. I have more care to stay than will to go. Come death, and welcome, Juliet wills it so.

But as the light increases, Juliet also realizes the unpleasant reality that the singing bird is the lark with a song that divides them, and encourages Romeo to leave quickly to save his life. She pushes him away, turns to get out of bed (and reveals her breasts for a brief moment), and reaches for her nightshirt:

It is, it is, hie hence, be gone away. Romeo, it is. It is the lark that sings so out of tune, straining harsh discords, and unpleasing sharps. Some say the lark makes sweet division. Oh, this doth not so, for she divideth us. So now be gone, more light and light it grows.

To Romeo, the light means the darkness of painful parting and separation: "More light and light, more dark and dark our woes." The Nurse knocks and warns that Lady Capulet is coming to Juliet's chamber. As the two lovers part, Juliet insists that Romeo (her "husband-friend") send frequent messages: "I must hear from thee every day on the hour." He promises to "omit no opportunity that may convey my greetings, love to thee."

As Romeo begins to climb back over the balcony, Juliet pulls him back, wondering if they will ever be together again: "Oh, think'st thou we shall ever meet again?" He assures her that they will be together again, to talk about their days of separation: "I doubt it not, and all these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come." With one final hug and kiss, he bids her farewell. After descending into the garden, he looks back at her. She leans over the balcony, watches him disappear, and then sinks down on the balcony ledge and sobs. Romeo mounts his horse and rides to Mantua.

Ignorant of Juliet's secret marriage, and mistaking Juliet's tear-stained face and weeping as grief for Tybalt's death and not for Romeo's departure, Lady Capulet vows vengeance against Tybalt's murderer by means of poison:

I'll send to one in Mantua, where that same banished runagate doth live, shall give him such an unaccustomed dram, that he shall soon keep Tybalt company.

To soothe her daughter's pain, Lady Capulet tells Juliet the real reason for her appearance. To bring her joy, her father has arranged and decreed that she shall be married to Paris in only a few days:

But now I'll tell thee joyful tidings girl. Well, then, thou hast a careful father, one who to put thee from thy heaviness hath sorted out a sudden day of joy...Marry my child, early next Thursday morn, the gallant, young and noble prince, the County Paris, at Saint Peter's Church, shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.

Juliet retorts that Paris "shall not make me there a joyful bride. No! No!" Outside the bedchamber, Lord Capulet asks Lady Capulet if she has delivered "our decree." Lady Capulet explains how Juliet has thanklessly refused, adding ironically and fatefully: "I would the fool were married to her grave." Lord Capulet is confounded, irritated, and increasingly infuriated that his daughter is so ungrateful. He is unrelenting in his insistence that she obey - she is to appear at the church! If she doesn't, he will disown her and never look at her again - and his "fingers itch" to slap her for her insolence:

Does she not give us thanks? Is she not proud? Does she not count her blessed, unworthy as she is, that we have wrought so worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom? Wretched fool, let me see her! Ungrateful baggage! (In Juliet's bedchamber, he addresses his "disobedient wretch" of a daughter)...I tell thee what, get thee to church a Thursday, or never after look me in the face...Speak not, reply not, do not answer me. My fingers itch. (He throws her from her bed)

The Nurse, who has overheard the conversation, intervenes on Juliet's behalf and accuses Lord Capulet of losing his temper and being unfair: "You are to blame, my Lord, to rate her so." He sarcastically calls her "my lady wisdom," snapping that she should save her words for "gossips." Spitefully, he also calls her a "mumbling fool." Even Lady Capulet realizes he is rash and "too hot." As Juliet hides herself behind the Nurse's skirts, Capulet is set in his decision and warns her that she must marry Paris without objection: "Thursday's near, lay hand on heart, advise. An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend." But if she refuses to obey him, he will throw her out of his house forever: "An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, for by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee, for what is mine shall never do thee good!"

After her father has abruptly departed following his final ultimatum, Juliet grabs at her mother to delay the marriage: "...cast me not away, delay this marriage for a month, a week, oh!" But it is to no avail - her mother refuses to talk any further: "Talk not to me, for I'll not speak a word. Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee."

Juliet turns for comfort from her Nurse and asks: "How shall this be prevented?" The Nurse offers her a very unpleasant solution: since Romeo is banished and cannot return to openly challenge the marriage, she advises that Juliet marry Count Paris. She extols him as "a lovely gentleman" who is "so quick, so fair" when compared to the "dishclout" that Romeo is. And because Romeo is as good as dead ("your first is dead") and useless to her because of exile, this second marriage ("match") will be better than her first marriage ("for it excels your first") and will make Juliet happy. Juliet cannot believe her Nurse's repugnant attitude: "Speakest thou from thy heart?" However, she shrewdly masks her feelings and deceives the Nurse by claiming that she is somewhat comforted: "Well, thou hast comforted me marvellous much." Alienated from everyone, Juliet will go alone to Friar Laurence's cell "to make confession and to be absolved" after displeasing her father - she asks that the Nurse tell Lady Capulet "I am gone."

Act IV, Scene 1:

As this new Act opens, it is Paris, not Juliet, who is speaking to Friar Laurence, confiding that he hasn't been able to get Juliet's consent for their coming marriage due to her grief: "Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt's death, and therefore have I little talked of love, for Venus smiles not in a house of tears." When Juliet appears in the cell, she is taken aback as Paris greets her as "my lady and my wife." Behind her veil, however, she demurely and cautiously answers him: "That may be, Sir, when I may be a wife." To avoid talking to Paris but without arousing suspicion in her suitor's mind, she asks if she may see the "holy father" now or later "at evening mass." The Friar asks that Paris leave them for "time alone." As Paris parts to avoid disturbing their "devotion," he promises Juliet that he will come for her early Thursday, lifts her veil, and gives her "this holy kiss" on her forehead.

In the Friar's chambers, she passionately weeps for her awful, helpless situation: "Come weep with me, past hope, past care, past help," entreating him to assist in preventing the marriage. With a desperate, suicidal "kind of hope," the Friar contemplates whether she may have "the strength of will." Juliet eagerly answers that to live, she would jump off a tower, or as fate would have it, allow herself to be shut up in a death house while hidden within the burial cloth of a dead person:

O bid me leap, rather than marry Paris, from off the battlements of any tower, or bid me go into a new-made grave, and hide me with a dead man in his shroud.

He outlines a plan for her. She is to go home (it is Tuesday), "be merry," and "give consent to marry Paris" as planned (on Thursday, two days hence). On the next night (Wednesday), she is to sleep alone in her chamber and drink from a vial "this distilling liquor" which will produce a temporary, death-like sleep for almost two days:

...through all thy veins shall run a cold and drowsy humor, for no pulse shall keep his native progress, but surcease. No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest, and in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death though shalt continue two and forty hours, and then awake as from a pleasant sleep.

In the meantime while she is put in the Capulet family tomb, the Friar will send a letter through a courier to Romeo to explain the deception ("know our drift"). He will come back to Verona to join the Friar, and they will be there in the tomb by Juliet's side when she awakens. Afterwards, Romeo will take Juliet with him to Mantua. Juliet greedily reaches out for the potion in the vial: "Give me, give me! Tell me not of fear!" She kisses the Friar's hand and leaves.

Act IV, Scene 2:

As instructed, Juliet returns home and acts repentant before her father's presence, asking for his apology for her willful behavior:

Lord Capulet: How now, my headstrong! Where have you been gadding?
Juliet: Where I have learnt me to repent the sin of disobedient opposition. Pardon me, henceforward I, I am ever ruled by you.

Act IV, Scenes 1 and 3:

But then, in the quiet of her bedroom where she has contrived to be alone, Juliet overcomes her fear and drinks the potion from the vial, vowing with a toast to be granted strength to greet symbolic death: "Love give me strength!" Friar Laurence sends his letter to Romeo in Mantua through a courier.

Act IV, Scene 5:

The Nurse's screams are heard throughout the Capulet household after entering Juliet's chamber to awaken her: "My lord, my lord. She's dead." Lord Capulet mourns the passing of his daughter as she lies extended across her bed, cold and stiff before her time: "O lamentable day! Death lies on her like an untimely frost. Upon the sweetest flower of all the field."

The scene changes to a funeral procession as Juliet's bier is brought to the Capulet burial chamber - a children's choir sings. Friar Laurence accompanies the mourners. As a white gauze veil is placed over her and flowers are thrown, Romeo's servant Balthasar watches in hiding.

Act V, Scene 1:

On a speedy horse, Balthasar rides to Mantua to tell Romeo of what he thinks is Juliet's death, passing the courier sent with a message from the Friar. Expectant, Romeo asks: "How fares my Juliet. For nothing can be ill, if she be well." Sorrowfully and reluctantly, Balthasar explains: "She's dead, my lord, she's dead. Her body sleeps in Capulet's monument. I saw her laid low in her kindred's vault." Romeo bursts out against the treacherous, double-crossing stars which have determined and influenced his fate up until then: "Then, I defy you, stars!" Romeo and Balthasar mount and ride all day to reach Verona, passing the courier on their way. It is night by the time Romeo enters the graveyard of the Capulet tomb. First he bids farewell to Balthasar: "Live and be prosperous. Farewell, good fellow."

Act V, Scene 3:

After smashing the iron door to the tomb with a rock, Romeo enters the vault of the Capulet household. Holding a torch aloft in the darkness of the tomb, he finally sees his beloved's form - seemingly dead. After removing her veil, he is puzzled that she still has color on her cheeks:

O my love, my wife! Death that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. Thou art not conquered. Beauty's ensign yet is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, death's pale flag is not advanced there.

He sees Tybalt's corpse - he thinks that by joining Juliet in death and eternal rest (by killing himself), he will be doing Tybalt a favor by avenging his cousin's own "enemy" and murderer:

Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet? What more favor can I do to thee, than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain to sunder his that was thine enemy? Forgive me, cousin.

Turning back to Juliet, he wonders a second time about her fairness, and whether the force of Death is in love with her - keeping her there in the dark as its beloved:

Ah, dear Juliet, why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe that unsubstantial Death is amorous, and that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in dark to be his paramour?

Instead of letting Death be Juliet's paramour, Romeo vows to never depart again from Juliet in "this palace of dim night...Here will I remain with worms that are thy chamber maids!" He sobs, takes one last look at Juliet, one last embrace, and a final kiss to seal his "dateless bargain to engrossing death":

Eyes look your last. Arms, take your last embrace. And lips, o you the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death.

He removes poison that he has brought, toasts to his love, swallows the kiss of poison, and kisses her hand before falling beside her: "Here's to my love! Thus with a kiss, I die."

Outside, the Friar is walking in the cemetery where he meets Balthasar, who has been there for "half an hour." When the young boy is fearful of joining the Friar, he proceeds alone to the vault, fearing that something has gone wrong: "Fear comes upon me. O much I fear some ill unlucky thing." At the tomb, he finds it open and lit from within by a torch. He rushes inside and finds Romeo pale and dead at the side of Juliet's bier: "Pale! Oh what an unkind hour is guilty of this lamentable chance?"

Juliet stirs, her hand opens, and she slowly awakens from 'death' and notices the Friar's presence, but she has not seen Romeo: "O comfortable friar, where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, and there I am. Where is my Romeo?" When the Friar hears approaching noises, he urges her to leave quickly with him:

Oh, Lady, come from this nest of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep. A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents. Come, come along, the watch is coming.

She is incomprehensible when she sees Romeo's body on the floor. When he hears the approach of others, the Friar "dare no longer stay" for fear of being discovered (and frightened by society's blame for his own involvement and responsibility) - he flees the tomb, leaving Juliet behind. She finds the poison vial in Romeo's hand, and chides him for not leaving enough poison for her. When she kisses his lips to see if there is any remaining poison left on them, she finds that his lips are "warm." Pathetically, she cries out: "Oh, no, no!" - due to ill-timing, she knows he died only a few moments earlier:

What's here? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end. (She drinks from it) O churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after! I will kiss thy lips. Haply some poison yet doth hang on them to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm. Oh, no, no!

Hearing more sounds of the watchmen, Juliet comes to her own triumphant, tragic and fateful end. Faithful till death, she picks up Romeo's dagger, stabs herself in the chest, and inevitably joins her love in marriage-death - she crumbles over his body:

Then I'll be brief. O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. There rust and let me die.

Now, the two feuding families share a funeral procession to mourn the two 'star-crossed lovers' - the bodies of Romeo and Juliet are carried up the church steps and laid before the Prince for his final judgment. In this final, somber scene of grief, he accuses them of killing the loving couple, and admonishes the assembly of Capulets and Montagues about the fruits of their mutual hate:

Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate;
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love;
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen;
All are punished. All are punished! (ECHO: punished!)

The off-screen narrator closes the film:

A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun for sorrow will not show his head,
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

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