Act I, Prologue: The prologue
to Act I is written in the form of a sonnet and provides a clear, concise summary of the play.
Romeo and Juliet will fall in love but their fate is death. The feuding of their families is at
fault. Only the deaths of their children will bring peace and cleanse Verona of its sin.
Act I, Scene 1: The scene opens
in the streets of Verona. Gregory and Sampson, servants of the house of Capulet, are discussing
their enemies, the Montagues, when two of the Montague servants, Abram and Balthasar, enter. The
four servants promptly begin to quarrel. Benvolio, of the house of Montague, enters and is attempting
to break up the fight when Tybalt, a Capulet, enters. Tybalt mistakenly assumes that Benvolio
has drawn his sword on the Capulet servants and challenges him to a duel. Benvolio tries to resist
but is drawn into the fight. The Capulets and Montagues are drawn into the streets by the noise.
Capulet calls for his sword to join in the fray but is instead taunted by his wife because of his old
age. The Prince Escalus is also drawn to the scene. The Prince is angry, as the feuding
families have previously disturbed the peace in the streets. He threatens death to anyone who
creates a problem again. Everyone exits except for Montague, his wife, and Benvolio. Montague
questions Benvolio as to the cause of the fight. His wife then asks about the whereabouts of their
son, Romeo. Benvolio reports that he has seen Romeo walking around alone and unwilling to socialize
with anyone. Montague confirms this and Benvolio asks what the cause is of Romeo's melancholy
attitude. Montague says that Romeo refuses to discuss his problem. Just then, Romeo enters
and Benvolio determines to find out what is wrong. He discovers that Romeo is in love with a girl
who will not respond to his advances. Benvolio advises him to forget her and to look elsewhere
for someone better but Romeo swears that no one will surpass her in beauty and his favor.