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Theatre: Romeo and Juliet
aka: Romeoand Juliet
Parting is such sweet sorrow...

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet..."
Juliet Capulet

It's impossible to imagine there are many who don't know the plot, but here's a quick outline:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.

What, can't read Shakespeare? Fine. In troper's terms:

Boy Meets Girl. It's Love at First Sight. But Boy and Girl are members of Feuding Families. Boy secretly marries Girl. Boy's friend is murdered by Girl's cousin, so Boy kills Girl's cousin, then skips town. Girl engages in dangerous plot to avoid an Arranged Marriage set up by her parents. Plot goes horribly right. Boy, hearing of Girl's "death," goes back to town and kills self at her grave. Girl, awaking and discovering this, kills self in turn. Families reconcile. The End!

And yes, it all happens about that fast — one of the major themes is that rushing into things is never a good idea, particularly when love and/or family are involved.

Your opinion of the play is also likely to be shaped by the quality of the actors you saw performing it. While that's true of most plays, it's especially true of this one. When done poorly, it's hours of Wangst. When done well, there's a verve and passion to the play that can be lacking in Shakespeare's more critically beloved works. When done with middle-aged or older actors in the title roles, it just doesn't make sense.

The play is a simple one and doesn't feature any of Shakespeare's famous side plots or other distractions. It's titled Romeo and Juliet, and dammit, that's who we're going to be watching.

Despite the heavy subject matter, there are many lighter moments (as in most of Shakespeare's works). This, combined with the impression that some have of the title characters as immature and selfish, has led to productions of different moods. Quite a few directors have made comedic productions which can, in the right hands, become Black Comedy at its finest — indeed, if it ever seemed ridiculous that all those people died because of all those contrived coincidences, it's because this was the original genre of the play.

Has been adapted for silver screen numerous times, most famously by the Italian director Franco Zeffirelli in 1968. That production is widely regarded as an exceptional movie, though it gained a measure of infamy for featuring teenagers Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting partially naked. Perhaps more well known today is Baz Luhrmann's zany 1996 adaptation which moved the story to a modern setting, and starred Leonardo DiCaprio at the height of his teenage heartthrob-dom.

One of the most notable meta-textual features of the play is the way most of it fits comfortably in an author's arsenal of Small Reference Pools. That is, the vast majority of the English-speaking world knows that Romeo and Juliet are icons of passionate, youthful love... but not everyone is aware that their story ends tragically, nor that their much-celebrated love was actually their downfall.

Note: The play's full title is The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. No one uses it, though.

Note: Due to the time since the play was written and now, It's best to assume that the original meanings of happenings in the play were lost.

Works based on Romeo and Juliet include:

  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1936 film directed by George Cukor that received four Academy Award nominations.
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film starring Olivia Hussey as Juliet and Leonard Whiting as Romeo.
  • William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, a somewhat polarizing update directed by Baz Luhrmann starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. It keeps Shakespeare's text but dramatically reframes it in a late-1990s setting in Mexican-influenced Southern California ("Verona Beach"). The duels and dialogue about them are retained by naming the characters' gun models after various types of bladed weapons instead (e.g. "Sword 9mm class").
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 2013 film by Carlo Carlei, and the first traditional retelling to hit screens in quite a while, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in the lead roles. The dialogue was heavily rewritten, although the new dialogue still sounded Shakespearean (the rewrites were...not well received).
  • Romeo X Juliet, an anime adaptation set IN SPACE! with less Grey and Gray Morality (the Montagues are villains who ousted and all but extinguished the rightfully ruling Capulets)
  • West Side Story, probably the most famous adaptation out there, telling the story of a romance between two teens from rival gangs in the 1950s.
  • Romeo Must Die, a modern-day retelling moving the action to LA and changing the feud to one between rival black and Chinese gangsters.
  • Tromeo And Juliet, a typically outrageous outing from Troma Films with a rather different ending.
  • Private Romeo, a film which uses an all male cast and the original dialogue of the play. It was released before the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and features Romeo as a cadet desperate to get into West Point and Juliet as the new boy to the military academy they all attend.
  • Romeo et Juliette: De La Haine a l'Amour , a French musical by Gerard Presgurvic, which has played in more or less similar format in Canada, Mexico, Japan and various countries throughout Europe and in a much Darker and Edgier Hungarian adaptation.
  • The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, which followed up the first film's Lighter and Softer African Hamlet with a similarly brighter version of this story.
  • Shakespeare in Love, in which we learn the "real" story behind the production of the play.
  • Reefer Madness isn't actually based on this play, but it deserves honorable mention for how often (in The Musical, anyway) the young lovers Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane compare themselves to Romeo and Juliet. Despite their lack of understanding what this actually means, it turns out to be a tragically apt comparison.
  • Romeo & Harriet, a musical parody of Romeo and Juliet.
  • Romiette and Julio, a 2001 novel by Sharon Draper about two teenage lovers dealing with the taboos of interracial dating.
  • You Never Dreamed, a 1980 Soviet film.
  • November 30, a 1995 Swedish movie with a Nonindicative Name where the Official Couple consists of a Peruvian immigrant and repentant neo-Nazi.
  • Romie O and Julie 8, a 1979 animated TV adaptation with robots.
  • Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss, an animated adaptation with seals playing the roles.
  • Gnomeo and Juliet, a 2011 CGI animated family comedy film with living garden gnomes in place of the original characters.
  • Naturally, it was the subject of an episode of Wishbone as well.
  • The Sims 2 features the "Veronaville" neighborhood, with the Montys and the Capps as major players, complete with a feud and teenagers from both families in love.
  • Prince of Cats, a short 2012 comic by Ron Wimberly set in a mid-Eighties Brooklyn crossed with samurai films and centered around secondary characters Tybalt and Rosalyn.
  • Romeo And Julieta, a very, very loose adaptation of the work starring two sentient llama piñatas. Yes, really.
  • Warm Bodies, a novel by Isaac Marion where the Montagues and Capulets are replaced with zombies and humans. Also made into a film.
  • Often done as a Show Within a Show when a film production or School Play is needed (because it's a play that most people, even those who have never read Shakespeare, are familiar with). If at least one of the two leads is a major character, expect Ship Tease. This includes an episode of Hey Arnold!, an episode of Pokémon, two episodes of K-On!, the second OVA to Cardcaptor Sakura, and an ongoing arc in the first part of Season 12 of Degrassi.
  • Diana Wynne Jones used the story as a subplot in The Magicians of Caprona in which the feuding families of Casa Montana and Casa Petrocchi eventually learn that two of their younger members have fallen in love with each other.


This play contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The two main characters, who are just kids (Juliet is thirteen in the play - Romeo's age isn't given, but he's most likely in his late teens), take their own short lives for each other. While many people may have thought it romantic or stupid when they were teenagers, it's pretty unsettling to any parent (particularly since teen suicide is a far more publicized issue today that it ever was in previous decades).
    • Note: In the original poem, Juliet and Romeo were both about sixteen, while in the Bandello novel, she was 18 and he was 20.
  • An Aesop: Grudges are bad; don't hold them.
    • There's also "love in moderation" and "do not jump into things you're not ready for."
    • Lost Aesop: If Romeo And Juliet was intended as condemnation of hormonal teenagers who think their first relationship is true love and go to melodramatic extremes to prove that it is love rather than simply lust, it failed horribly.
    • Extremes in anything, love or hate, can lead to tragedy.
  • All Part of the Show: Variant in the Zeffirelli movie. Everyone thinks Mercutio, the local Sad Clown, is joking around after being injured by Tybalt; it is only when they check on him they realize his injuries are fatal.
  • Amazingly Embarrasing Parental Figure: The Nurse to Juliet. In particular, the whole story of Juliet's weaning. Juliet's comment, "Stint thou too, I pray thee, Nurse," should be translated as, "Dang it, will you please stop telling stories about the embarrassing things I did when I was three?"
  • Ambiguously Gay: Mercutio, in some modern productions, notably the 1996 film version, in which he's a drag queen.
  • Anti-Villain: Depending on your view Paris could count as a Type IV. He's Romeo's rival for Juliet's hand but is a good man who would have made a good husband for Juliet.
  • Anyone Can Die: Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Lady Montague, Romeo and Juliet all kick the bucket.
  • Apothecary Alligator: Mentioned in the description of the apothecary's shop in Act V Scene I.
    And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
    Of ill-shaped fishesnote 
  • Betty and Veronica: Juliet's decision between her two suitors. Paris courts her in the 'proper' way, by asking her father's permission. Romeo falls in love with her, marries her in secret and kills her cousin.
  • Black Comedy: Sometimes performed this way, as noted above. Mercutio provides black comedy in-story as he dies.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Act 1 Scene 1 is filled with constant rape jokes.
  • Break the Cutie: Both of the lovers, but especially Juliet.
    Alack, that Heaven should practice stratagems
    Upon so soft a subject as myself!
  • Bromantic Foil: Mercutio to Romeo.
  • Bus Crash: Lady Montague, who has an important role in the first scene, then disappears almost entirely until the last scene where Montague mentions she died offstage.
  • Cargo Envy: From Romeo:
    See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
    O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
    That I might touch that cheek!
  • Cannot Spit It Out/Poor Communication Kills: Tybalt might not have killed Mercutio and subsequently gotten himself killed by Romeo if he'd kept calm long enough for Romeo to explain that the reason Romeo didn't want to fight him is that Romeo and Juliet had recently gotten married.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Balthasar, a servant who has a small appearance in the first scene of act 1, ends up indirectly causing Romeo's suicide in act 5.
  • The Chessmaster: Friar Lawrence only agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in order to stop the feud, and puts their lives at risk in the process. Tragedy ensues.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Benvolio, one of the main characters in the first three acts, does not appear in the fourth or fifth. Nobody seems to notice this, which is weird since he's just about the only young person left alive at the end.
    • Many adaptations correct this by having him take the roles that random Montagues take in the final acts, and at the very least he's generally included in the final scene when the Montagues and Capulets come together.
  • Child Marriage Veto: Juliet refuses to marry Paris. She's already married to Romeo, but her parents don't know that...
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Romeo during the scene with Tybalt.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Faking Juliet's death... wasn't.
  • Courtly Love: Subverted. Romeo abandons his courtly love for Rosaline as soon as he meets the much more... open... Juliet.
  • Dance of Romance: Though Juliet off-handedly mentions that Romeo doesn't like to dance, some renditions have the duo dance together before they exchange dialogue.
  • Death by Despair: Lady Montague, who died after learning of Romeo's exile. Also the presumed cause of Juliet's first "death" by those who don't know about the Friar's potion.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Mercutio dies offstage, but there is no lack of drama there.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most adaptations seem to forget Paris. His death is one of the most frequently omitted sequences, even though it makes a nonsense of the Prince's "I have lost a brace of kinsmen" lines. (This may be because of the way Paris dies; as noted in Moral Dissonance below, Romeo pretty much murders him, which is odd coming from the hero.)
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Repeatedly. The line about "star-crossed lovers" in the opening narration is a Lampshade Hanging; the stars - meaning Fate - are going to make sure everyone ends up miserable.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tybalt's initial response to Romeo's showing up at the party, at least in some versions, involves killing him. Lord Capulet thinks it's a bit much.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Juliet stabs herself to death with a dagger. Fine. "O happy dagger, this is thy sheath." Huh.
  • Downer Ending: There is the glimpse of a Bittersweet Ending, as the rival families finally reconcile their differences. Of course, everyone who actually cared about the feud is dead by that point.
  • Double Entendre: Some of Mercutio's lines, overlapping with Get Thee to a Nunnery.
  • Driven to Suicide: The two leads, and arguably, Lady Montague.
  • Due to the Dead: Romeo honors Paris' request to lay him beside Juliet, after having killed him because Paris thought that Romeo was coming to do the evil version of this trope.
  • Dramedy: While best known as a tragedy, it incorporates many comedic elements such as the opening scene and everything Mercutio says.
  • Dying Curse: Uttered by Mercutio when he was dying from a wound delivered from Tybalt.
  • Elopement: Romeo and Juliet run away to Friar Lawrence to get married, and apparently plan to run further away to get away from their families.
  • Emo Teen: Romeo is this at first, moping around and reading emo poetry because of his one-sided love on Rosaline. And when he has to be separated from Juliet, he gets even worse than he was at the beginning.
    • It is also worth noting that Romeo's lines regarding his romance of Rosaline are very over-used cliches at Shakespeare's time, but as soon as Romeo starts describing Juliet, his lines become very creative and much more poetic.
  • Enter Stage Window: Probably the Ur Example.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Prince and the Nurse. (Although on the character list the Prince's name is given as "Escalus" and Capulet calls the Nurse "Angelica" at one point.)
  • Exact Time to Failure: Juliet wakes up from her potion right on schedule. If she'd woken up five minutes later, then the Capulets and Montagues would have discovered her alive. If she'd woken up five minutes earlier, Romeo would have met her.
  • Faux Death: Juliet.
  • Feuding Families: Montagues and Capulets.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Mercutio's description of Tybalt's ornate fighting style implies that Tybalt may fit this trope.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Arguably the whole basis of Romeo and Juliet's relationship.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Even if, by some strange power, you've never heard of the plot of this thing, it's stated in the very beginning that the title characters die... on line six of the Prologue, to be precise. Supposedly, there was a happy alternate ending that contemporary audiences could vote for in lieu of the tragic ending. No one has ever discovered it, though.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Romeo is heartbroken about Mercutio's death...at least during the scene where Mercutio actually died. After Romeo kills Tybalt to avenge him, Mercutio is pretty much forgotten. Romeo expresses far more grief over Tybalt's death than Mercutio's.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: The titular characters get married less than 24 hours after meeting, and plan their marriage the night they meet. The entire plot unfolds over all of four days.
  • Gallows Humor: "Ask for me in the morning, and you will find me a grave man."
  • Genre-Busting: It was the first play to combine the idea of comedies and tragedies. In a typical comedy, there are young lovers who live Happily Ever After. In a typical tragedy, there are political figures and families that feud and kill people. All of this happens in Romeo and Juliet. Except the happily-ever-after part.
  • Genre Shift: It looks exactly like your typical Shakespearian comedy (two teenagers are in love, but they're kept apart by the stubbornness of unhappy old men; servants and outsiders conspire to help them; their fathers are convinced to let go of their silly feud, and everyone lives happily ever after) until Mercutio kicks it in Act III, at which point a Cycle of Revenge screws everything up. The only other comedic character was the Nurse, and even then, after Mercutio dies, she and Juliet have a falling out. This is given a subtle nod in Shakespeare in Love, in which the story is a hastily re-written script of a romcom called Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter.
  • The Ghost: Rosaline. Though she's not even that important anyway.
  • Grey and Gray Morality
  • Hanlon's Razor: Two teens in "love" die because of a problem with the post. Not much malice against them from anybody except Tybalt, who proves pretty pathetic.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Some of the archaic uses of the word "ho" become a tad awkward in this day and age. Such as "Fetch me my long sword, ho!" Even funnier because, as mentioned previously, at this point in the play, his wife is trying to stop him from jumping into the fight.
    • "Aqua Vitae, ho!" Note that Aqua Vitae is archaic for Whiskey. What's worse, the Nurse says it, and Lady Capulet was the next to speak.
    • Also Romeo talking about his "Well-flowered pump." "Pumps" were shoes, which would be adorned with flowers at dances and other gatherings.
    • There are several with Capulet as well, such as "You are a saucy boy" and "You are too hot," the latter being said to him by his wife.
  • The Hero Dies: Both Romeo and Juliet themselves at the end.
  • Hot-Blooded: Tybalt. He's responsible for most of the fighting that goes on... and his aggression can be seen as what turns this otherwise traditional romantic comedy story into a tragedy.
    • Romeo, too. When Mercutio kicks the bucket, his immediate reaction is going to Tybalt and fight him.
    • Romeo's reaction to Paris threating to arrest him was to fight him. He won, as well.
    • Hell, even Mercutio has a little of this. Basically every young guy in this play who's not Benvolio.
    • It's beyond the young people. Capulet and Montague wanted to fight each other, but their Ladies held them back. In Act III, Capulet went berserk when Juliet refused to obey him.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mercutio and Benvolio are typically viewed as these in the Fanfiction universe.
  • Hypocrite: Mercutio really has no right to be angry about the feuding of the Capulet and Montague families leading to his death, seeing as he threw himself into their feud quite willingly and displays many signs of being a Blood Knight.
  • Hufflepuff House: There's actually a third clan- the Prince's family (historically, the Scaligers or Della Scala- the Prince's name, Escalus, is a Latin version of this), consisting of the Prince himself, Mercutio, and Paris. This being Shakespeare, the Prince loses his two kinsmen over the course of the play too, leading him to say in the final scene that he has also been punished for the violence in Verona alongside the Capulets and Montagues.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The beginning of the first scene, or act 2, scene 4. Despite it's hidden in Shakespeare's archaic English, they're in there.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Romeo. If he had turned in Tybalt for killing Mercutio instead of going after him himself, the entire rest of the play would not have happened.
    • Friar Lawrence for coming up with faking Juliet's death.
    • Juliet for thinking it would work. To be fair to her and Lawrence, it is amazing how close the plan was to working out perfectly.
  • Impeded Messenger: Due to the black plague sweeping through Europe, a priest carrying a vital message to Romeo never reaches him. Many places would close their doors to priests, who were believed to carry the plague as they visited those with it for religious ceremonies.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Whenever the Nurse asks for "aqua vitae", it's pretty much this...
  • Informed Attribute: Mercutio describes Benvolio as Hot-Blooded, willing to start a fight for any reason at all. In practice, Benvolio is a level-headed Nice Guy.
  • Informed Friendship: Juliet reacts to the news of Tybalt's death with heartbreak and tears, her beloved cousin. The Nurse exclaims that Tybalt was her best friend. Tybalt never spent time on-stage with any of these women. All of his stage time was consumed in proving himself a Hot-Blooded and pitiless fighter.
  • In Love with Love: Romeo, particularly with Rosaline.
  • Large Ham: Mercutio loves to make dramatic speeches.
  • Love at First Sight: The title characters fell in love like this. They fell HARD.
  • Love Triangle: A Type 4 with Paris (a), Juliet (b) and Romeo (c).
  • Lost in Imitation: The two are a pair of shallow barely teens who want to have sex. Good luck finding anyone who realizes this today.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: By their times's standards. Compare their behaviors: Romeo is the one with emotional reactions for better or worse, whereas Juliet is more practical and stages their doomed escape.
  • Matron Chaperone: The Nurse.
  • Masquerade Ball: Capulet holds one, which just so happens to be the place Romeo and Juliet fell in Love at First Sight.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Lady Montague may have had a Bus Crash, but she evened the death toll to 2:2:2- 2 for the Capulets (Juliet and Tybalt), 2 for the Montagues (Romeo and Lady Montague), and 2 for the Prince's family (Mercutio and Paris)
  • Meaningful Name: Tybalt/Tybert/Tibert is the name of the hot-blooded prince of cats from the folk tales of Reynard the Fox. Tybalt is frequently made fun of for this, and is indeed hot-blooded.
  • Moral Dissonance: Romeo's murder of Paris, who commits the terrible crime of putting flowers on his fiancée's tomb. Although considering Romeo's mental conditions at the time, it doesn't come off as much of a surprise.
    • Romeo actually kills Paris because he tries to arrest him for breaking his exile (and breaking into the Capulet tomb). Although Paris is basically doing the right thing.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Mercutio's death is often played as this in modern versions - crops up in both Baz Luhrmann's and Franco Zeffirelli's screen adaptations.
  • Name and Name
  • No Antagonist: Tybalt is the closest thing the play has to an antagonist, and he dies in Act 3 of a five-act work.
  • Nice Guy: Paris, although how nice he is depends on the staging.
    • Romeo is also implied to be this, considering the fact that Lord Capulet doesn't actually care when he's told that Romeo is at his party and says he's heard nice things about the boy. Keep in mind, this is the guy that was trying to kill said boys father less then 24 hours earlier for no other reason than some old rivalry that no one remembers the cause of.
  • Noodle Incident: During his "Queen Mab" speech, it soon becomes clear that Mercutio was once greatly hurt by a woman.
  • Only Sane Man: Benvolio. No wonder he disappears after Act III.
    • And is the only major surviving character of the younger generation.
  • Parental Substitute: The Nurse for Juliet.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Mercutio, when he died, things went to hell real quick.
  • Plucky Girl: Juliet, especially considering the time period it's set in. She disobeys her parents, follows her heart and braves disownment and being trapped in a tomb to stay true to the man she loves.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This is one of the major things that contributed to Romeo and Juliet's deaths.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Probably the main reason people think Romeo and Juliet are the model for a good relationship, and probably the reason a surprising number of people forget the ending in the prologue.
    • Ironically, the title has become a kind of shorthand for idolizing the very behaviors it exists to make fun of.
  • Power Trio:
    • The Montague lads:
      • Romeo - passionate, somewhat emo guy, and romantic (Id)
      • Mercutio - cynical and snarky (Superego)
      • Benvolio - nice guy / The Generic Guy (Ego)
      • Another way to look at is in their reactions to the Tybalt situation: Mercutio's quick to fight (Id), Romeo resists until he can't any longer (Ego), Benvolio tries to keep the peace and stay out of it (Superego)
    • Also, the women of the Capulet family fit into this:
      • Lady Capulet, trying to get her daughter married to someone rich and suitable (Superego)
      • Juliet, especially at the beginning when she tries to please others rather than herself (Ego)
      • The Nurse, trying to get Juliet laid (Id)
  • Pun: A good handful of the characters, though Mercutio seems to live off of them. He even belts them out as he lay dying...
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Yes, really. Lord Capulet is portrayed as not taking the feud nearly as seriously as the younger generation; when Tybalt informs him that Romeo has snuck into their ball, his response is to shrug and say that he's heard the boy has a good reputation, and tells Tybalt to leave Romeo alone and not do anything since, after all, Romeo hadn't done anything wrong to him.
    • The Prince as well, he just wants to stop the two families from fighting in the streets of his city and it's explicitly stated he's showing Romeo mercy by banishing him instead of having him executed for Tybalt's death.
  • Red Herring: After Romeo kills Tybalt, Lady Capulet tells Juliet that she plans to send someone to Mantua to give Romeo "an unaccustomed dram" (or in other words, an assassin will poison him). Because the audience knows that Romeo and Juliet are going to die, but not exactly how, this line suggests that Romeo may be murdered at the end (which, of course, is not the case).
  • The Reliable One: Benvolio, (notice a pattern to his tropes yet?) the Nurse.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Juliet for the nurse's deceased daughter. Also probably Tybalt for Capulet's deceased children, and/or the Capulets for Tybalt's dead parents. While never explicitly stated to be dead, his parents never show up, and when he dies himself, Lord and Lady Capulet do all the mourning for them.
  • Romantic False Lead: Paris shows up asking for Juliet's hand before she meets Romeo.
  • Runaway Fiancée: The Faux Death set up by Juliet was an attempt to get out of marrying Paris.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Mercutio, for Romeo, and Tybalt, for the Capulets.
  • Sad Clown: Mercutio, in some versions.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: One could say that this is Friar Lawrence's intention (although it's more like "screw societal tradition" than "screw rules"), although he ends up failing miserably.
  • Secret Relationship: The root of the tragedy.
  • Serial Romeo: Romeo, naturally. His object of hopeless affection changes on a dime in the play, and it's implied he's done this sort of thing before. He knew Juliet for about a minute, and was already making out with her.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: After Mercutio's death, the play turns into a tragedy.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Tybalt has about 3 scenes in the play, but without him it would be a vastly different story.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The play never reveals what happened to the apothecary, but the source story ends with him being sentenced to death.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Trope Namer. Possibly an Unbuilt Trope, as the play can be read as a deconstruction of same.
  • Tag Team Suicide: Juliet uses Romeo's dagger to kill herself.
  • Tempting Fate: Just before his wedding Romeo says this:
    • Do thou but close our hands with holy words,
      Then love-devouring death do what he dare
      It is enough I may but call her mine.

      In modern English that can be summed up as "I'm so happy right now, after I'm married to Juliet death can do whatever he wants. I'll die happy." Death must have taken that as a challenge.
  • Together in Death: Romeo and Juliet.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It's probably easier to list the characters who don't act like idiots...
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Impulsiveness is the downfall of many characters, up to and including the lovers themselves.
  • Tragic Mistake: Romeo's killing of Tybalt in vengeance for Mercutio, leading to his banishment. Everything goes straight to hell for both lovers because of it.
  • Translation Convention
  • Trope Breaker: Any and all of the many attempts to update it have to work their way around the fact that the story hinges around two teenagers from well-off families being unable to communicate in time. Even just setting it post-plague raises issues; accept that the main characters would have the latest smartphones, Twitter and Facebook accounts and you have some serious plot-preservation problems.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Romeo's servant Balthazar tells Romeo that Juliet is dead, oblivious to the fact that the death has been faked. Romeo takes this badly.
    • Friar John is another Unwitting Instigator of Doom, although, ironically, this stems from his failure to deliver a letter. He doesn't know what it contains.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Tybalt sees Romeo as this; when Tybalt tells Lord Capulet that Romeo has come uninvited to the Capulet masquerade ball, Lord Capulet lets it slide because Romeo has a decent reputation (not to mention Lord Capulet didn't want any trouble).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Friar Lawrence's speech to Romeo in Act III is basically him calling Romeo out for crying like a baby, not realizing how lucky he is that he's not dead as a result of his idiocy, and for generally not manning up.
  • Women Are Wiser: Juliet is far and away the more sensible and level-headed one of the title duo. Also, when a street brawl breaks out, Lords Montague and Capulet try to fight, and their wives have to hold them back.
    • Even between the Nurse and Friar Lawrence, this trope is applicable - although in a darker way. Friar Lawrence sets about making tons of risky plans that, although well-intentioned, have a thousand ways to go wrong. The Nurse tells Juliet to be sensible and marry Paris, and give up Romeo for dead, because it involves less risk and heartache.
  • Young Love Versus Old Hate: The young lovers come from families that have been at war with each other for generations. The hatefulness of the older generation eventually led to the death of both characters.
    • Subverted in some readings, that read the feud as carried on by the younger generation, while the older generation is seen a few times trying and failing to make everyone stop (although they will try to jump in if the fight is right in front of them, like in the very beginning).
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: The fights are often portrayed as this.

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

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alternative title(s): Romeo And Juliet
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