Romeo and Juliet: Act 5, Scenes 1-2

Act 5, Scene 1

Romeo is walking happily through the streets of Mantua talking about a pleasant dream he had where he was dead and Juliet kissed him back to life.

Balthasar enters and tells Romeo that Juliet is in heaven, found dead in her bed that morning. Romeo shouts out, “Then I defy you, stars.”

He orders Balthasar to get him a pen and paper and writes a letter to be given to his father. Balthasar is worried about Romeo but Romeo insists that he leaves. Romeo asks him if he has a letter from Friar Lawrence but he does not, so Romeo sends him on his way.

Once he is gone, Romeo tells the audience that he will lie with Juliet that night. He goes off to find an apothecary to find poison that will kill him and allow him to die with his beloved Juliet.

Romeo tells the apothecary that he looks poor and that he will pay well for a deadly poison. The apothecary does not want to sell Romeo the poison but finally relents. Alone, Romeo speaks to the vial and says he will go to Juliet’s tomb and kill himself. Note the dramatic irony at play here. We know that Juliet is alive but Romeo doesn’t. It makes us want to speak to Romeo to tell him not to take the poison, thus involving us more in the play.

Act 5, Scene 2

Friar Lawrence in his cell is talking to Friar John, who he sent to Mantua with a letter for Romeo. He asks Friar John how Romeo responded to the letter about the plan to fake Juliet’s death but Friar John tells him that he was unable to deliver the letter because he was quarantined in his house due to an outbreak of plague.

Friar Lawrence panics because he realises that if Romeo does not know about the plan, there will be no one to take Juliet from the tomb when she awakes. He is unaware that Romeo knows of Juliet’s death. He sends for a crowbar and says that he will have to get Juliet himself. He sends another letter to Romeo explaining the new plan, where he plans to keep Juliet in his cell until Romeo comes for her.

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