Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, Scene 1

Sampson and Gregory, from the house of Capulet are walking through the streets of Verona, talking about how much he hates the Montagues. They see two Montague servants coming their way and discuss how best to provoke them into a fight.

Sampson bites his at the Montagues, which is a highly insulting gesture. The confrontation quickly turns violent when Benvolio from House Montague enters and draws his sword in an attempt to stop the fighting. Upon seeing this, Tybalt from House Capulet attacks Benvolio unwilling to believe that he is trying to break up the fight. Tybalt has a strong hatred for the Montagues(foreshadowing what is later to come in the play) and as a result the brawl spreads all over the street. Montague and Capulet, the heads of the respective households enter and have to be restrained by their wives from fighting until Prince Escalus arrives and demands that everyone ceases fighting immediately. He threatens the death penalty on anyone who disturbs the peace in future.

The crowd disappear and Benvolio is left with Monatague and Lady Montague, who enquire about the whereabouts of their son, Romeo. They tell Benvolio that they are worried about their son, who has seemed sad of late and ask him to find out what is wrong with Romeo.

They depart when they see Romeo coming and Benvolio is able to ask Romeo what the matter is and he tells him that he is love with a girl called Rosaline but that she does not love him. Benvolio tells Romeo that the best way to get over a woman is to look at other beautiful women but Romeo tells Benvolio that no one can match the beauty of Rosaline. Benvolio leaves but is determined to prove Romeo wrong.

  1. How do the Capulets begin the fight with the Montagues?
  2. What was Benvolio doing when he entered with his sword?
  3. What does Tybalt do when he sees Benvolio with his sword drawn?
  4. What is your impression of Tybalt from what you have seen so far?
  5. What threat does Prince Escalus make to both the Capulets and the Montagues?
  6. Why are Romeo’s mother and father worried about him?
  7. Why is Romeo feeling so sad?
  8. What is Benvolio’s cure for Romeo’s sadness?
  9. “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs/Being purged, a fire sparkling in a lover’s eyes./Being vexed, a sea nourished with a lover’s tears./What is it else? A madness most discreet,/ a choking gall and a preserving sweet.” What things does Romeo compare love to in these lines?
  10. Has the playwright used foreshadowing in this scene? Explain your answer with reference to the text.
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