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Romeo and Juliet Commentary - Act V.

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Act V. Scene I. - Mantua. A Street.

Romeo: "There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls, / Doing more murders in this loathsome world / Than these poor compounds...."

In Mantua, Romeo learns of Juliet's death, deciding to risk his own life by returning to Verona at once to see Juliet one last time. Romeo also buys some poison from a local Apothecary...

Now in Mantua, Romeo recounts a dream he has, believing it foreshadows some good news, "My dreams presage [foretell] some joyful news at hand:" (Line 2).

Balthasar, Romeo's servant now enters with "News from Verona!" (Line 12). Balthasar hesitatingly takes his time to explain it, but Romeo soon learns that Juliet is dead (Lines 17-23). Devastated, Romeo remains calm, telling his servant to hire post-horses so he can return at once to Verona, the very place Romeo has been banished from (Line 26).

Discovering from Balthasar that there are no letters for him from the Friar, Romeo immediately off for Verona (Lines 29-33). Romeo decides to die: "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee [you] to-night" (well Juliet, I will lie with you tonight), (Line 34). Romeo speaks to a local Apothecary. Romeo wants poison from him, offering forty ducats (Lines 58-65).

The Apothecary will not supply the poison; there is a death penalty in Mantua for such activities. Romeo tries again, this time succeeding. The Apothecary says that "My poverty, but not my will, consents" (my poverty but not my will or conscience, agrees to this), (Line 75).

Romeo is told by the Apothecary that were he as strong as twenty men, this poison would still kill him dead and that Romeo should add this poison to anything he so chooses to drink. Romeo gives the gold to the Apothecary saying, "There is thy [your] gold, worse poison to men's souls, / Doing more murders in this loathsome world / Than these poor compounds" (there is gold, a worse poison doing more harm to men's souls in this loathsome world than these poor compounds or chemicals), (Line 80).

Act V. Scene II. - Verona Friar Laurence's Cell.

Friar John explains to Friar Laurence that his letter informing Romeo that Juliet is not dead, did not reach Romeo. Friar Laurence tries again to inform Romeo of his plan and heads off to the Capulet burial chamber where Juliet will soon awake.

Friar Laurence meets his holy brother Friar John. Friar John was to have informed Romeo in Mantua that Juliet is not really dead. Unfortunately, as Friar John tells Friar Laurence, when he was tending to the sick , he held for some time for fear of spreading an existing epidemic (Lines 10-12). As such, Romeo is still unaware that Juliet is not really dead.

Remembering that Juliet will awaken within three hours, Friar Laurence heads of to the ancient burial vault of the Capulet's. He will try again to inform Romeo of Juliet's good health by letter, and will keep Juliet with him in his cell until Romeo arrives.

Act V. Scene III. - The Same. A Churchyard; in it a Monument belonging to the Capulets.

Juliet: "Where is my Romeo?"

Paris mourns his bride that never was. Romeo arrives, opening Juliet's coffin to look at his love one last time. Paris fights Romeo whom he believes is desecrating Juliet's grave. Paris dies, Romeo placing him beside Juliet.

Romeo takes his poison, kisses Juliet and then dies. Friar Laurence arrives too late and quickly leaves. Juliet, alone, awakens asking for her Romeo. Juliet kisses the now dead Romeo and stabs herself, dying.

The Prince, Capulets, and Montagues arrive, Balthasar and Friar Laurence explaining all. Escalus scolds the two families who finally end their tragic feud.

The play ends in this Churchyard. We find Paris mourning the loss of Juliet, "Sweet flower, with flowers thy [your] bridal bed I strew, / O woe! thy canopy is dust and stones;" (Line 12).

Paris departs, and now Romeo with Balthasar enter, carrying torches and equipment (mattocks and a wrenching iron) to prise open Juliet's tomb. He instructs his servant to deliver a letter to his parents "early in the morning" and to not disturb him now, no matter what he hears (Line 23).

Romeo pretends that he wishes to open the tomb to gaze once more upon his beloved Juliet and to also take a ring from Juliet's finger. He threatens Balthasar with a painful death, should he not leave at once. Nonetheless, the suspicious servant hides, watching events unfold. Says Balthasar: "For all this same, I'll hide me here about: / His [Romeo's] looks I fear, and his intents [intentions] I doubt" (Line 44).

Paris sees Romeo opening Juliet's tomb. Fearing that Romeo must be intending to desecrate the bodies of those who belong to Juliet's family (Lines 52-53), Paris immediately challenges Romeo to a duel. Unfortunately for Paris, he is slain (killed). Seeking mercy, Paris asks that he be placed next to body of Juliet before dying: "Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet" (Line 73). Romeo will grant his wife's would be husband this last request, saying, "In faith, I will" (Line 74).

Romeo is amazed that Juliet still captivates him with her beauty, even in death. "Why art thou yet so fair? (Why are you yet so beautiful?)", he asks himself (Line 102). Now Romeo has one last deed to perform...

Taking his poison, Romeo exclaims, "Here's to my love! [Drinks] O true apothecary! Thy [your] drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die", Romeo kissing Juliet before dying (Line 120).

Just moments later, Friar Laurence arrives. After speaking to Balthasar, the Friar sees blood. Both Paris and Romeo are dead. Juliet now awakens. "Where is my Romeo?" she asks (Line 150).

Friar Laurence informs Juliet of the worst: "A greater power than we can contradict / Hath thwarted our intents: come, come away. Thy [your] husband in thy bosom there lies dead; / And Paris too:" (Lines 153-156).

Hearing noise, the Friar leaves, daring not to stay. Now alone and unwilling to leave, Juliet finds a cup: "What's here? a cup, clos'd in my true love's hand? Poison, I see, hath [has] been his timeless end" (Lines 161-162).

Disappointed that not a drop is left, Juliet decides to kiss Romeo, remarking that his lips are warm (Line 165). Hearing noise, Juliet grabs Romeo's dagger and stabbing herself, falls on Romeo's body and dies. "This is thy [my] sheath; [stabs herself.] there rest, and let me die" Juliet finally says before falling on top of Romeo's body and then dying (Line 170).

The Prince later enters as do the Capulets and the Montagues. The Capulets are devastated by the sight of their bleeding daughter. We learn that Montagues' wife had died from the grief that her son was banished. "Grief of my son's exile hath [has] stopp'd her breath" Montague explains (Line 211). Friar Laurence explains what has happened, expecting his life to now be brief (Lines 223-269).

The Prince will not have Friar Laurence's life however, explaining that "We still have known thee [you] for a holy man" (we still know you to be a holy man), (Line 270).

The stories of Balthasar and a letter from a Page confirm Friar Laurence's story and now the Prince turns his attentions to the feuding families, explaining that this tragedy is largely their own fault (Lines 281-295).

Capulet and Montague now finally end their feud with each other and their ancient war is at last laid to rest. Montague will raise a gold statue of his former enemy's daughter Juliet and Capulet matches this sentiment: "As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie; / Poor sacrifices of our enmity!" (Line 304).

The play ends with the Prince summarizing this tragic love story.

"For never was a story of more woe [sadness] / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

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