Romeo and Juliet Summary Act V

The climactic scene of the play, where Romeo learns from Balthazar that Juliet is dead.  Maddened by the news he buys poison and risks his life to venture into Verona at the risk of death. It is in such a condition that shakespear sums up Romeo’s grief akin to a madman who in a literary apostrophe shouts “I defy you stars” (5.1.24) suggesting that he cares little of his fate. Friar Lawrence is informed by another friar that his letter informing Romeo that Juliet isn’t really dead had not reached him. The Friar speeds off to Juliet’s burial chamber hoping to catch Romeo in time knowing that Juliet will soon awaken from the effects of the potion.

Romeo soon arrives at the burial chamber and proceeds to open the coffin in which Juliet is peacefully sleeping. Paris who was there earlier engages Romeo in a duel accusing him of desecration but Romeo kills Paris. Romeo drinks the poison while lying aside Juliet.

It is here where the tale takes its most bizarre and tragic twist. Romeo in believing Juliet to be dead drinks the poison and uttering his last words ‘Thus with a kiss I die’ he kisses Juliet and dies. When Juliet awakes, she sees Romeo dead. Friar Lawrence is too late and hence leaves Juliet to grieve alone. Instead, Juliet out of grief kisses Romeo and stabs herself with his dagger. Thus ends the tale of the two lovers. Shakespeare paints a vivid tapestry of death in Romeo’s  speech where his parting words are a  personification of death likening it  to an “abhorred monster” that “keeps/Thee here in dark to be his paramour.” (5.3.113)

The play ends with a harsh rebuke on the two families by the Prince Escalus blaming their feud for the lover’s deaths. While they agree to end their feud, the Prince again heaps scorn and words upon them explaining how such a fate had befallen them where even the heavens found ways and means to bring them misery through the scourge of love.

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