In Verona, Italy, the longstanding feud between the Montague and the Capulet clans breaks out in a street brawl, broken up by the Prince of the city. The same night, two teenaged children of the two families — Romeo (Montague) and Juliet (Capulet) — meet at a Capulet feast and become deeply infatuated. Later, Romeo stumbles into the secluded garden under Juliet's bedroom balcony and the two exchange impassioned pledges. They are soon secretly married by Romeo's confessor and father figure, Friar Laurence, with the assistance of Juliet's nursemaid. Unfortunately, another street duel breaks out between Juliet's first cousin Tybalt and Romeo's best friend Mercutio when Tybalt insults Romeo. Since Tybalt is Juliet's cousin and Romeo has just been married to Juliet, he sees Tybalt as family and refuses to fight him, leading Mercutio to be a loyal friend and fight for him. This leads to Mercutio's death. Romeo retaliates by fighting Tybalt and killing him, and is punished by the Prince with banishment instead of the death penalty. Romeo, however, sees his banishment as worse than death, as Verona is the only home he has known and does not want to be pulled away from Juliet. Friar Laurence eventually convinces Romeo that he is very lucky and should be thankful for what he has. Romeo and Juliet secretly spend their wedding night together and consummate their marriage.
Unaware of Juliet's secret marriage, her father has arranged for her to marry wealthy Count Paris. In order to escape this arranged marriage and remain faithful to Romeo, Juliet consumes a potion prepared by Friar Laurence intended to make her appear dead for forty-two hours. Friar Laurence plans to inform Romeo of the hoax so that Romeo can meet Juliet after her burial and escape with her when she recovers from her swoon, so he sends another Friar, John, to give Romeo a letter describing the plan. However, when Romeo's servant, Balthasar, sees Juliet being buried, under the impression that she is dead, he goes to tell Romeo and reaches him before Friar John. In despair, Romeo goes to Juliet's tomb and kills himself by drinking poison. Awakening shortly after he expires, Juliet discovers a dead Romeo and proceeds to stab herself with his dagger, piercing her abdomen. Later, the two families attend their joint funeral and agree to end the feud.