Romeo and Juliet: Act Three

Another fight breaks out between the Capulets and Montagues in Act three. Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin provokes Romeo into fighting. Eager to maintain their honour Mercutio draws his sword and fights Tybalt. Romeo steps between the two in order to restore peace. Tybalt sneakily stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm. Before  Mercutio dies he wishes “A plague o’ both your houses” implying the family conflict is the reason for his death. Romeo then seeks revenge and kills Tybalt. Escalus the Prince of Verona enters the scene and learns of the fight between the two families. He banishes Romeo from the city of Verona, and promises him the death penalty should he return. Romeo blames fate stating “O, I am fortune’s fool!” Meructio, on the other hand, doesn’t blame fate for the outcome of events but rather places blame on the actions of others. Romeo begins to mourn the fact that he will be unable to see Juliet and seeks Friar Lawrence’s help.

In the Capulet household, the nurse rushes into Juliet’s chamber to inform her of a fight that took place between Romeo and Tybalt. Juliet hears of Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment and despite Tybalt being her cousin, she is more upset by the news of her husband’s exile. The Nurse tells Juliet that she knows where Romeo is hiding, and Juliet gives the nurse a ring to gift to Romeo as a symbol of their love.

In Friar Lawrence’s cell, Romeo remarks that his banishment is worse than death and fears he will never be able to see Juliet again. He becomes anxious and threatens to kill himself. He becomes hopeful again when the nurse arrives at the cell and gives Romeo the ring from Juliet. 

Friar Lawrence arranges for Romeo and Juliet to spend the night together to consummate their marriage. When Romeo climb into her bedchamber, they elaborately profess their love for one another. In the morning the nurse informs them that Lady Capulet is approaching and Romeo hastily leaves, promising Juliet that he will return. When Lady Capulet enters Juliet’s room she finds her sobbing and assuming she is crying over the death of Tybalt, slanders Romeo unaware Juliet is married to him. This scene conveys Juliet’s maturity and growing confidence to stand by her husband, despite opposition from her family and the state (Prince of Verona). Lady Capulet believes informing Juliet of her arranged marriage to Paris will lighten her grief. Juliet refuses to marry Paris and this angers Capulet who threatens to disown her, calling her ”young baggage.”

Juliet is so upset by the arrangement that she considers committing suicide to escape living a life without her husband. Juliet then turns to her nurse for advice, who betrays her, insisting she goes through with the marriage to Paris. This marks a turning point for Juliet, as the nurse’s refusal to help symbolises Juliet moving away from her childhood and into adulthood. The nurse informs Juliet that herself and Paris are better suited. Juliet, outraged calls her an “Ancient damnation!”