The play begins with a formal prologue telling of the quarrel between the
families and announcing the lover's fate. It serves
to make it clear that the fate or the two young lovers is not their fault;
instead, it is their misfortune for which they are not entirely responsible.
The first scene emphasizes the age-youth theme. Capulet is mocked by his
wife when she tells him that a crutch would be more appropriate for him than
a sword. Montague's wife cries, "Thou shalt not stir a foot to seek a
The second scene consists of two sets of conversations: that between Capulet
and Paris, and that, between Romeo and Benvolio. In the former, we again find
the age-youth theme. Walking beside young Paris, Capulet, talks of his old
age, and of his daughter's youth.
Scene three introduces Juliet and shows her to be polite and obedient. She
is thirteen years old, and marriage for her is already being discussed. Again
the emphasis is on youth as the idea of love and marriage is new to her.
Scene four shows Romeo, Benvolio and another friend, Mercutio on their way
to Capulet's house to attend the masked ball. Mercutio attempts to cheer up
Romeo by telling him a delightful story about Queen Mab, who brings strange
dreams to mankind.
Scene five brings Romeo and Juliet together and has them fall in love. Their
meeting is couched with a bit of irony: both Juliet and Romeo were reluctant
to attend the ball, but consented - Romeo to see Rosaline and Juliet to see
Paris. They both realize the danger of their situation being from two rival
Their meeting sets the story moving and is the initial incident of the tragedy.
When Tybalt threatens to duel with Romeo, Capulet, as head of the house,
refuses to allow it. He appears to be more angry with Tybalt's bad manners
that would ruin the party than he is with Romeo's intrusion. Verona speaks
well of him, and Capulet is doing his best to obey the Prince's command to
keep the peace.