Act IV, Scene 1
Paris sets up his wedding plans with Friar Laurence. The Friar is hesitant to move forward (with obvious reasons) asks about what Juliet thinks. Paris isn’t worried about that. She definitely loves him, she’s just too wound up in her own grief…over her cousin…who died yesterday. Silly girls.
Juliet comes in and Paris tells her that she loves him. Juliet does everything but outright deny this fact. Paris steals a kiss before he leaves.
Once they’re alone, Juliet begs Friar Laurence for advice because she doesn’t know how to put off this marriage and be faithful to Romeo. Her solution is to just kill her self. Friar Laurence instead suggests that she just pretends to die. He will give her a sleeping draft that will mimic death for 42 hours. By then she will be in the Capulet tomb, where Romeo can take her away to Mantua.
Juliet completely agrees and the Friar prepares to send a message to Romeo.
Act IV, Scene 2
Lord Capulet prepares for the wedding. He sends forth his servants to secure the extra hands needed for the big event.
Juliet returns from seeing Friar Laurence, completely repentant. She asks her father’s forgiveness and promises to be more obedient. He’s overjoyed at this fact and says “Forget Thursday. Let’s get these kids married tomorrow!” Lady Capulet isn’t thrilled at this idea, but he promises to do all the work and goes to fetch Paris.
Act IV, Scene 3
Juliet and her Nurse have picked out the perfect wedding outfit for tomorrow. Juliet asks to sleep alone. Lady Capulet asks if they need any help. Juliet says no and asks again to sleep alone. They oblige and leave.
This is when Juliet starts to question everything that could go wrong. What if the draft doesn’t work? She decides to keep her dagger handy just in case. What if Friar Laurence is just poisoning her? No, he’s a priest. He wouldn’t do that. What if she wakes up too soon and suffocates in the tomb? What if she goes mad being locked up in the tomb with all those corpses and beats herself to death with their bones?
She drinks the sleeping potion before she can doubt her course any more.
Act IV, Scene 4
Lord and Lady Capulet have stayed up all night preparing for the wedding. The Nurse urges them to try and sleep, but there is too much to do. Lord Capulet checks in with his servants as they get ready. That’s when they hear Paris approaching with the musicians.
Act IV, Scene 5
The Nurse goes in to wake Juliet and can’t get her to stir. She cries out for help when she discovers Juliet is dead. Lady Capulet comes in and then Lord Capulet. They mourn the loss of their daughter.
Paris and Friar Laurence enter to take Juliet to church. When it is revealed that she died, they curse the day and curse Death for taking her. Friar Laurence comforts them with the usual priestly platitudes of being happy she is in heaven.
They prepare to change the wedding feast into a burial one. The Nurse dismisses the musicians, but before they can leave Peter asks them for a jolly song. They refuse because that would be wildly inappropriate. He keeps trying, but ultimately fails.
Act V, Scene 1
Romeo strolls the streets of Mantua, fondly remembering a dream he had of Juliet kissing him back to life. He is excited to see his man-servant Balthazar because he will surely bring good news from Verona.
Balthazar has news, but not good news. He tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Romeo asks if there are any letters from Friar Laurence. There’s not. Romeo instructs Balthazar to ready the horses because he will be going to Verona to be with Juliet.
As Balthazar prepares to leave, Romeo goes to a poor apothecary (he comments quite a bit on the clear poor-ness of the apothecary). He pays the man to open his shop on a holiday to give Romeo a strong poison. The apothecary agrees because who could say no to a whole bunch of money. Romeo, being his cheerful self, says some weird stuff about gold being poison to men’s soul and then leaves.
Act V, Scene 2
Friar Laurence finds out that Romeo never received his message because the priest that was supposed to deliver the message was put into quarantine after visiting the sick. It’s an honorable cause and all, but this message was real important. The Friar prepares to go to the tomb himself to get Juliet when she wakes up.
Act V, Scene 3
Paris approaches the tomb to lay flowers at Juliet’s grave. He orders his page to lie on the ground to listen for footsteps and warn him if anyone is coming. While he says a tearful goodbye to his love, the page whistles his warning.
Romeo approaches and asks Balthazar for the crowbar to open the tomb. He gives Balthazar a letter to his father that should be delivered in the morning. Romeo also wants him that should he hang around and eavesdrop on whatever Romeo is doing, Romeo will rip him apart. Balthazar pretends to leave, but just hides instead because this whole thing is alarmingly weird.
Romeo pries open the tomb and Paris confronts him. Romeo tells Paris to just go away. He’s there to kill himself and isn’t really in the mood to fight. Paris continues to push for a fight anyway. The page runs off to fetch the night watch. Paris and Romeo fight, and Romeo kills him. Paris asks to be buried next to Juliet. Romeo obliges and drags his dead body into the tomb.
Romeo sees Juliet and comments on how beautiful she looks. He apologizes to Tybalt for killing him. Then, he mourns the loss of his love. He takes out the poison, drinks it, and promptly dies.
Friar Laurence shows up with his shovel and asks Balthazar what’s going on. Balthazar explains that Romeo went into to Juliet’s tomb a while ago and hasn’t come out. Friar Laurence approaches the tomb alone because Balthazar was too afraid of Romeo murdering him. The Friar sees Paris and Romeo, both dead.
This is the moment Juliet wakes up. Literally the worst moment she could have woken up: after Romeo is dead, but before the Friar could take her from the tomb. Friar Laurence explains that Romeo is dead and begs her to come with him. He’ll hide her in a nunnery. Juliet refuses and a noise scares Friar Laurence off.
Juliet realizes that Romeo took poison, but left none for her. She tries to kiss him, but there’s no poison there either. She decides to stab herself real quick before the night watch comes over.
The night watch see Paris, Romeo, and Juliet all dead. Juliet is particularly surprising because she appears to be freshly dead, not super dead like she should be. They send people to search the grounds, fetch the Prince, the Capulets and the Montagues. They find Balthazar and Friar Laurence.
The Prince shows up and wonders what has everyone up so early and his men explain what they found. The Capulets show up and are surprised to find their daughter recently dead. Montague shows up, explains his wife died of grief last night, and then mourns his son.
Friar Laurence explains everything that happened with a little help from Balthazar and the Page: the wedding, faking Juliet’s death, Romeo kills Paris and then himself, Juliet refused to leave and kills herself. The Prince basically asks the Capulets and Montagues if they’re happy now. They decide to end their feud and “never was there a tale of more woe/ than that of Juliet and her Romeo.”