Action: Act V 

Kelly Glorioso



This scene takes place in Mantua, where Romeo is staying after his exile. Romeo is thinking of Juliet when his man Balthasar comes with news.  Balthasar does not know that Juliet is in a mere coma, and tells Romeo that his lady is dead.  Romeo is devastated, and asks if Balthasar has any news from the Friar.  However, Balthasar does not, so Romeo dismisses him.  Romeo decides that he does not want to live without Juliet, and says "I will lie with thee tonight".  He sees an apothecary and asks him for a deadly drug.  The apothecary says that he does have such a drug, but that it would be his need for money that caused him to sell it, not his good conscience.  Romeo says that he will pay his poverty, not his good will, and the apothecary gives him a deadly potion.  Romeo then makes plans to hurry to Juliet's grave to be with his love.

In this scene,  the action is manipulated so that the play may take its final, tragic course.  Romeo is not told of Juliet's plan soon enough and therefore is led to believe that she is actually dead.  He does not want to live without her, of course, and plans his own suicide shortly thereafter.  Romeo's interaction with the apothecary plays again upon the theme of personal desire vs. what is morally correct, as was depicted in 4.5. Shakespeare's use of the forward at the conclusion of each scene has become a wise habit by this point.  We anxiously await for the showdown in which the lovers' fate becomes reality.


This scene takes place in Friar Laurence's cell.  Friar John, who was supposed to be the messenger of Friar Laurence's important letter to Romeo, returns with the letter still in hand.  He explains that he was not allowed to enter Mantua or send the letter on to Romeo in Mantua because town officials were wary of infectious diseases being introduced.  Friar Laurence asks that John please make haste to get him a crowbar.  We learn that Friar Laurence intends to use the crowbar to open the Capulet tomb and greet Juliet when she awakes.  He will keep her hidden in his cell until he can reach Romeo and get him to come for Juliet.

In this scene conflict defines all of the important action.  The conflict of Romeo not receiving the intended letter makes the ever-growing snowball of problems gain even more speed and makes the action seem to occur very quickly.  It is now a race against time for the Friar to reach the vault before Romeo in order to prevent Romeo's suicide.  Unfortunately,  neither Romeo nor the Friar are aware of each other's plans, so the conflict is extremely difficult to overcome.


In this scene,  the final scene of Romeo and Juliet,  action begins with Paris and his page arriving in the churchyard outside of the Capulet tomb.  Paris wants some time to grieve Juliet's death, and he asks his page to hide and whistle if he sees anyone coming to disturb his solitude.  While Paris is praying to Juliet, he hears his page whistle.  The page has seen Romeo and Balthasar approaching.  Romeo gives Balthasar a letter to give to his father the following morning, and tells him that he will enter the tomb to retrieve a precious ring of his lady's.  Romeo asks Balthasar to leave and warns him not to be nosy for fear of punishment.  Balthasar agrees, and Romeo gives him money in thanks as he proceeds alone.  However, Balthasar decides to hide and wait just in case.
    Romeo begins to open the tomb as Paris watches from his hiding place.  Paris, angered by Romeo's apparent defacing of the tomb, comes forward in challenge.  Romeo begs Paris to not be angry and to leave him alone, but Paris is too upset to back down.  They fight, and Romeo is the victor.  Paris, fatally wounded, begs to be placed in the tomb with Juliet.  Romeo realizes who Paris is and promises to bury him in the tomb, which he does.  He goes to Juliet in the tomb and grieves for her once more, and finally, in the throes of sorrow, he drinks his deadly potion after stealing one last kiss.  As he dies, the Friar Laurence arrives in the churchyard and meets Balthasar.  Balthasar tells the Friar that Romeo is in the tomb, and the Friar hurries to right the situation.
    As Friar Laurence enters the tomb,  he sees Paris and Romeo dead as he notices Juliet awakening.  Juliet asks for Romeo and the Friar sadly tells her that not only is her husband dead, but Paris as well.  He asks her to leave with him, but Juliet does not go.  She kisses Romeo's still warm lips and stabs herself with her beloved's dagger.  Meanwhile, outside the tomb, all present are held to wait for the Prince to arrive.  The Prince arrives just before the Capulets and Montagues.  The Capulets are told that their daughter, once dead, was again warm and yet dead again, which destroys the man and his wife.  Montague tells of his wife's death that evening as he arrives, which was due to her grief over Romeo's exile.  When he learns of his son's death, he can only feel angry that his son would reach the grave before he.
    The Friar goes before the Prince and explains the whole story from beginning to end.  Balthasar confirms the story and presents Romeo's letter to the Prince. The Prince finds Romeo's letter to confirm the Friar's words, and he speaks harshly to the Montagues and Capulets.  Because of their hatred toward each other, they have sacrificed their most beloved.  The two families realize their wrong-doings, and  join hands as they grieve.  The Prince concludes the story by commenting on how high a price has been paid for peace in Verona.

The most important thing to note about this final scene is how quickly the action moves.  In just a few short pages, all of the characters come together and their individual fates are determined, providing an end to all of the forwards Shakespeare presented throughout the play.  A final stasis of hard-won peace is established in Verona, and the major conflict of the play has been resolved.  Unfortunately,  in most peoples' eyes  this resolution is not a happy one, but the final stasis shows hope for Verona's future thanks to its "star-crossed lovers".