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Romeo and Juliet Characters

by William Shakespeare

Character List

Romeo

Sixteen-year-old Romeo Montague falls in love with Juliet Capulet at a masquerade, thus igniting their tragic affair. Romeo is defined by a self-indulgent melancholy at the beginning of the play, but later becomes a much more active and committed character, which is clear when he kills Tybalt. Romeo's final act of passion is when, believing his beloved Juliet is dead, he takes his own life. Throughout the play, Romeo embraces an idealistic view of love, which explains why he falls for Juliet so quickly and passionately.

Lord Montague

Romeo's father and a mortal enemy of the Capulets.

Lady Montague

Romeo's mother, who dies from a broken heart after Romeo is banished from Verona.

Benvolio

Romeo's cousin, and a staunch pacifist.

Abram

A Montague servingman involved in the street brawl in 1.1.

Balthasar

Romeo's servant, who is involved in the street fight of 1.1, and later assists Romeo in the final Act.

Friar Laurence

A older man and a friend to Romeo. He officiates the wedding of Romeo and Juliet, hoping to gain political peace through the union. When that doesn't work out, he concocts the plan to reunite the star-crossed lovers by giving Juliet a sleeping potion - but the plan backfires.

Juliet

Juliet Capulet is a thirteen-year-old girl who falls in love with Romeo Montague. She has a strong will and a rebellious streak - she knows what she wants. Defined by a shrewd intelligence and pronounced agency, Juliet is in many ways a more masculine character than Romeo is, even if the patriarchy of her family limits her power. Her final decision to kill herself speaks to her pronounced focus and commitment.

Lord Capulet

Juliet's father and a temperamental bully who initially pretends to consider his daughter's welfare while arranging her marriage, but later demands her quick union with Count Paris. Her father's pressure is a catalyst in the final sequence of events that ends in Juliet's suicide.

Lady Capulet

Juliet's mother is submissive to her husband, and refuses to intercede for Juliet when their daughter expresses concern over the arranged marriage to Count Paris.

Tybalt

Juliet's hot-headed cousin, whose penchant for violence leads to the Act III street fight - ending in his own death as well as Mercutio's.

Pertruccio

Tybalt's page

Nurse

Juliet's nurse is ostensibly the young girl's confidante, but also harbors a certain amount of resentment that makes her useless when it comes to saving the girl. Nurse often makes trouble for Juliet by refusing to give her information quickly, and later turns into a traitor by arguing Juliet should marry Paris, even though she knows about her secret marriage to Romeo.

Peter

A Capulet servingman who serves as great comic relief in Act I when he is unable to read the list of invitees to the Capulet ball.

Sampson

A Capulet servingman who is involved in the street brawl in 1.1.

Gregory

A Capulet servingman who is involved in the street brawl in 1.1.

Prince Escalus

The ruler of Verona who provides for and represents law and order in the city. He frequently attempts to cede the violence between the Montagues and Capulets, but he finds himself powerless against true love.

Mercutio

Romeo's friend, a kinsman of the Prince, and one of the play's most colorful characters. In the early Acts, Mercutio displays a pronounced wit and colorful language. However, by Act III, as he lies dying after the street fight, he delivers a damning speech on the feuding houses. Mercutio's death marks the play's turn into tragedy.

Paris

Count Paris is Juliet's suitor - Lord Capulet supports the union but Juliet despises him. Though never as insidious as Lord Capulet, Paris behaves arrogantly once the marriage date is set. He confronts Romeo in Act V, which leads to the Count's death in battle.

Apothecary

Shakespeare describes the apothecary of Mantua as a skeleton - so he appears to personify Death itself. A poor man, he is easily convinced to sell Romeo the poison that he uses to kill himself.

Citizens of the Watch

These unspeaking characters often arrive at the scene of a street brawl, representing the forces of law and order that combat the disorder wrought by the family feud.

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