What is the first action Romeo takes at the Capulet party in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romeo does not even want to go to the Capulet banquet, and that is not because his family, the Montagues, are the sworn enemy of the Capulets. In fact, he is so depressed that the woman he professes to love, Rosaline, does not love him in return, that he is not in the least interested in partying--or looking at other girls, which is why his friends want him to go to the party with them.

In Act I scene v of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Romeo and his friends show up in masks at the Capulet ball and are allowed to enter. It is a festive night for everyone, and Juliet's father just wants everyone to have a good time.

Once Romeo enters the party, the first thing he does is ask a servant the identity of Juliet who he sees in the distance but who he doesn't yet know, as this quote shows:

What lady is that which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?
Obviously the very first thing he does is notice Juliet, as she is dancing with her partner. The first action after that is to ask who it is, as he has never seen her before tonight (remember their families are feuding). It is not a particularly significant act; however, it is a moment which sets in motion the action for the rest of the play. If Romeo does not see her and become attracted to her, he would not have asked about her and all would have been well.
If he had seen her, asked about her, and gotten a different answer (the servant said he did not know, so perhaps he was simply hired to serve at this party), things might have been different. Another servant could have told him she was the daughter of Capulet, and that might have changed things; however, Romeo's next words demonstrate that all is lost in terms of his heart; he is in love:
Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
In the shortest terms, then, the first thing Romeo does when he enters the Capulet party is fall in love with an unknown woman named Juliet Capulet, the daughter of his father's worst enemy.