The play is set mainly in fifteenth century Verona, a city in northern Italy. Romeo and Juliet are the children of two noble families, the Montagues and the Capulets respectively, who are engaged in an ancient feud.
The story begins with a street brawl with drawn swords between the servants of the two feuding families, which is brought to an end by the arrival of Prince Escalus of Verona, who then threatens that the death sentence will be carried out on anyone who disturbs the peace again.
Romeo Montague has an infatuation for a girl named Rosaline. When Lord Capulet gives a feast in which the Montagues are not invited, Romeo and some friends mask themselves and attend the feast.
It is at the feast that Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet first meet. Romeo was in no mood to dance, and he soon spots Juliet and falls in love with her at first sight. At the feast, Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, recognises Romeo's voice as that of a Montague and is insulted by the presence of a Montague at a Capulet feast. He has to be restrained by attacking Romeo by Capulet who says Romeo has the reputation of being a virtuous and responsible young man. Tybalt refuses to obey Capulet, who then loses his temper.
The lovers meet and they kiss. The Nurse ends the lovers' first meeting by informing Juliet that her mother is looking for her. Through the Nurse, Romeo learns that he has fallen for a Capulet and Juliet learns she loves a man she ought to hate bitterly.
After the feast, Romeo, lurking in Capulet's garden, sees Juliet standing on her balcony. Juliet, unaware of Romeo's presence, confesses her love for Romeo and is taken aback when Romeo reveals himself to her and admits that the feeling is mutual.
Due to the enmity between the two families, the lovers persuade a friendly priest, Friar Lawrence, to marry them in secret. Friar Lawrence agrees to help them for he believes that their marriage may put an end to their families' hatred. The lovers are married in Friar Lawrence's cell (his small dwelling place.)
Romeo, on his way back from his wedding to Juliet, is accosted on the streets by Tybalt, who is furious with Romeo for gate-crashing the Capulet feast and for getting him into trouble with Lord Capulet. He calls Romeo a villian. For Juliet's sake, Romeo refuses to be angered by Tybalt's insults and declines his challenge. His friend Mercutio is angered by Romeo's apparent cowardice and draws his sword against Tybalt. Mercutio is fatally wounded by Tybalt when Romeo tries to stop the fight. Romeo, burning with rage, kills Tybalt in retaliation to avenge his friend, an act which will earn him more hatred from the Capulets. The Prince, who arrives at the scene soon after, refuses to pardon Romeo and banishes him from Verona, adding that he will be put to death the moment he returns.
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