Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

Description

A tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young ‘star-crossed lovers’ whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers. She is only fourteen, he is only a few years older. Their families are bitter enemies, sworn to hatred. Yet Romeo and Juliet meet and fall passionately in love. Defying their parents’ wishes, they are secretly married, but their brief happiness is shattered by fate.


102 pages, with a reading time of ~3.25 hours (25,640 words), and first published in 1596. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

SAMPSON

Gregory, o’ my word, we’ll not carry coals.

GREGORY

No, for then we should be colliers.

SAMPSON

I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.

GREGORY

Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o’ the collar.

SAMPSON

I strike quickly, being moved.

GREGORY

But thou art not quickly moved to strike.

SAMPSON

A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

GREGORY

To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand: therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.

SAMPSON

A dog of that house shall move me to stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.

GREGORY

That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest goes to the wall.

SAMPSON

True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall: therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

GREGORY

The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.

SAMPSON

‘Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant: when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids, and cut off their heads.

GREGORY

The heads of the maids?

SAMPSON

Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.

GREGORY

They must take it in sense that feel it.

SAMPSON

Me they shall feel while I am able to stand: and ‘tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.

GREGORY

‘Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor John. Draw thy tool! here comes two of the house of the Montagues.

SAMPSON

My naked weapon is out: quarrel, I will back thee.

GREGORY

How! turn thy back and run?

SAMPSON

Fear me not.

GREGORY

No, marry; I fear thee!

SAMPSON

Let us take the law of our sides; let them begin.

GREGORY

I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.

SAMPSON

Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.

[Enter ABRAHAM and BALTHASAR]

ABRAHAM

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON

I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAHAM

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON

[Aside to GREGORY] Is the law of our side, if I say ay?

GREGORY

No.

SAMPSON

No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.

GREGORY

Do you quarrel, sir?

ABRAHAM

Quarrel sir! no, sir.

SAMPSON

If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

ABRAHAM

No better.

SAMPSON

Well, sir.

GREGORY

Say ‘better:’ here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.

SAMPSON

Yes, better, sir.

ABRAHAM

You lie.

SAMPSON

Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.

They fight

[Enter BENVOLIO]

BENVOLIO

Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do.

Beats down their swords

[Enter TYBALT]

TYBALT

What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

BENVOLIO

I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword, Or manage it to part these men with me.

TYBALT

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward!

They fight

[Enter, several of both houses, who join the fray; then enter Citizens, with clubs]

First Citizen

Clubs, bills, and partisans! strike! beat them down! Down with the Capulets! down with the Montagues!

[Enter CAPULET in his gown, and LADY CAPULET]

CAPULET

What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

LADY CAPULET

A crutch, a crutch! why call you for a sword?

CAPULET

My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

[Enter MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE]

MONTAGUE

Thou villain Capulet,–Hold me not, let me go.

LADY MONTAGUE

Thou shalt not stir a foot to seek a foe.