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Skip to 0 minutes and 16 seconds The story of Romeo and Juliet takes place in Verona in Italy. Two families– the Montagues and the Capulets– hate each other so much that they fight on the street whenever they meet. One of these families, the Capulets, organises a big party so that they can introduce their daughter, Juliet, to a rich nobleman– Count Paris, who has asked to marry her. Juliet is nearly 14, and her parents are keen for her to marry soon. Romeo is the son of the Montague family. Romeo and his friends decide that it would be exciting to go to the Capulet’s party, too.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds But they agree that they must go in disguise, because if they are recognised at the party by the Capulets, they might be killed. That night at the party, Romeo meets Juliet, and they fall in love at first sight. However, Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, recognises Romeo, knows he is from the Montague family, and wants to kill him. Romeo hides in the garden, and talks to Juliet when she appears on her balcony. They realise that they are perfect for each other, and decide to get married. The next day, they go to a priest called Friar Lawrence, who marries them in secret. Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, gets angry very easily. He starts a fight with Romeo’s best friend.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 seconds When Romeo steps in to break up the fight between the two men, his best friend is accidentally killed. Romeo runs after Tybalt in anger and kills him. Romeo is sent away from Verona. But Friar Lawrence, the priest who organised the secret wedding between Romeo and Juliet, arranges for them to spend one night together as husband and wife. Meanwhile, the Capulets decide that Juliet must marry Count Paris immediately. When she says that she doesn’t want to, her parents are very angry with her, and her mother says that she will never speak to her again. Of course, they do not know that she is already secretly married to Romeo.

Skip to 2 minutes and 50 seconds Juliet asks Friar Lawrence to get her out of this difficult situation, so that she can see her beloved Romeo again. Friar Lawrence has an idea. He gives Juliet a drug, which will make everyone think that she’s dead. When in fact, she is only in a long, deep sleep. While Juliet is sleeping, Friar Lawrence sends a message to Romeo to tell him to come to her tomb and take her away. When the guests arrive for Juliet’s wedding the next day, her lifeless body is discovered. Believing she is dead, her family puts her in their tomb. Tragically, Romeo never gets Friar Lawrence’s message that Juliet has taken a drug, and is really alive. He only hears that she is dead.

Skip to 3 minutes and 45 seconds Romeo returns to Verona and goes to Juliet’s tomb. There, inside the tomb, he meets Count Paris, who has also come to say goodbye to Juliet. The two fight and Romeo kills him. Romeo still believes that Juliet is dead, so he drinks poison and dies. But soon after this, Juliet’s drug stops working, and she wakes up. She sees that Romeo is dead, takes his knife, and kills herself, too. When the Capulets and the Montagues discover both their children, dead, they are united in their sadness. The two families decide to make peace with each other, and promise to build a monument to the memory of both Romeo and Juliet.

The story of Romeo and Juliet

Watch the video and listen to actor Jade Anouka tell the story of Romeo and Juliet.

As you watch, make notes. What do you learn about:

  • The Montagues
  • The Capulets
  • Juliet
  • Romeo
  • Count Paris
  • Tybalt
  • Friar Lawrence

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council