Act 3 Scene 1
Benvolio tries to convince Mercutio to go indoors as the Capulets are on the look out for a fight. Sure enough, Tybalt arrives looking for Romeo. When Romeo does arrive he refuses to fight with Tybalt, who he is now related to by marriage saying to him ‘I do protest, I never injured thee, / But love thee better than thou canst devise’. A fight breaks out between Mercutio and Tybalt which ends with Mercutio being stabbed after Romeo gets in the way. While dying Mercutio curses both houses of Capulet and Montague exclaiming ‘A plague o' both your houses! I am sped’. In revenge for his friend’s death, Romeo seeks out Tybalt and kills him. When the Prince arrives he announces ‘And for that offence / Immediately we do exile him hence.’
- Mercutio suggests that Benvolio is as quick to fight as Tybalt is.
- Romeo gets in the way of Mercutio and Tybalt which allows Tybalt to kill Mercutio and makes Romeo partly responsible.
- When he takes revenge for Mercutio's murder by killing Tybalt, Romeo puts his friendship before his marriage to Juliet.
- Romeo is banished from Verona’s walls rather than being killed for what he has done, as the Prince proclaimed would happen.
Act 3 Scene 2
Juliet waits for Romeo to join her after their marriage impatiently saying ‘Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds, / Towards Phoebus' lodging’, but the Nurse arrives with news of Tybalt’s death. At first, Juliet curses Romeo’s name but when she discovers what happened she asks ‘Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband? / Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name, / When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?’ and realises she needs to stand beside her husband. The Nurse agrees to get a message to Romeo.
- Juliet is very impatient to be with Romeo.
- Juliet is angry at Romeo for killing Tybalt, but then feels sorry for hating him.
- Juliet refuses to see her parents who she knows are mourning Tybalt.
Act 3 Scene 3
Romeo is hiding at Friar Laurence’s cell and is given the news he has been banished. He is distraught and says that being banished is worse than being killed as he won’t be able to see Juliet, telling the Friar ‘There is no world without Verona walls, / But purgatory, torture, hell itself’. The Nurse arrives with news that Juliet still loves him and the Friar convinces Romeo to run away to Mantua while things settle down in Verona. He tells him to go to Juliet first, to consummate their marriage, saying ‘Go, get thee to thy love, as was decreed, / Ascend her chamber, hence and comfort her”.
- Romeo thinks death would be better than being banished.
- Romeo cries and weeps and doesn't want to live without Juliet.
Act 3 Scene 4
Paris visits Lord Capulet to seek Juliet’s hand in marriage. At first Capulet suggests that everyone is too full of grief to entertain the idea of a wedding. But as Paris is about to leave he has a change of heart and suggests they get married in three days' time 'Thursday be it, then. / Go you to Juliet ere you go to bed, / Prepare her, wife, against this wedding-day'.
- Paris once again tries to get Lord Capulet to agree to the wedding even though Tybalt has just died.
- Lord Capulet suggests he knows his daughter’s mind and that she will agree to marry Paris.
- Lady Capulet is left to deliver the news of the proposed marriage.
Act 3 Scene 5
Romeo and Juliet say goodbye to each other with Juliet asking, 'Art thou gone so? Love, lord, ay, husband, friend! / I must hear from thee every day in the hour, / For in a minute there are many days'. Lady Capulet enters and tells Juliet that she is to marry Paris. Juliet refuses and when she tells Lord Capulet this he threatens to disown her if she doesn’t agree saying, 'For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee, / Nor what is mine shall never do thee good'. When they are alone, the Nurse tries to convince Juliet to forget Romeo and marry Paris. Juliet decides to visit Friar Laurence.
- In Juliet and Romeo's last moments together there are several references to death and Juliet foreshadows Romeo's death by saying he looks as though he is in a tomb.
- Lord Capulet used to believe Juliet’s opinion was important in deciding who she should marry but he now says he will disown her if she refuses to marry Paris.
- Lady Capulet tries to calm her husband down but ends the scene telling Juliet she is also 'done with thee'.
Things to notice in Act 3
Notice Romeo’s punishment for killing Tybalt. The Prince claimed in Act 1 Scene 1 that anyone who disturbed the peace would pay with their life so why do you think he banishes Romeo instead of having him killed? What effect does this have on the play?
Take a look at Juliet’s reactions and behaviour in Act 3, Scene 2. What different emotions does she experience in this one scene? Can you find any directions in her lines that might help an actor playing the role, or show them how to respond?
Take note of Lord Capulet’s plan to marry Juliet to Paris. Why do you think he has changed his mind and now wants the couple to marry that same week, when he wanted to wait two years in Act 1? What does this change of pace do to the plot? This is the first time we see Juliet disobey her father and mother. Does this change how you view her character?
Act 3 is important because Romeo and Juliet are separated – with Romeo being banished and Juliet’s proposed marriage to Paris being brought forward. Why do you think Shakespeare does these at the same point in the play?