In Romeo and Juliet, how did Romeo get the bottle of poison?  

6 Answers

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Romeo, believing Juliet is dead, visits an apothecary in Mantua to buy poison.

Through the unfortunate misadventures of these "star-crossed lovers," Romeo is unaware that Juliet has taken a sleeping potion provided by Friar Lawrence so she can avoid marrying Paris. (This all takes place after Romeo has been banished from Verona for killing Tybalt.)

"Apothecary" is another name for a druggist. It is important to note that it is illegal for an apothecary to sell poison in this city.

Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua's law

Is death to any he that utters them.  (66-67)

However, Romeo, upon entering the man's shop in Act Five, scene one, notices how poor business has been. In fact, the man is starving.

Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,

and fear'st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,

Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,

Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back.  (68-71)

Romeo argues that the druggist will definitely die of starvation by not taking Romeo's money, or he can take a chance, not get caught, and live. The apothecary, on principle, dislikes taking Romeo's gold, but in light of his condition of near-starvation, he accepts, selling Romeo a potent potion that will quickly end one's life.

It is this poison, of course, that will end Romeo's life.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You will find the answer to this question in Act V scene 1. Here we see a grief-stricken Romeo, determined to "lie" with his Juliet that very evening. He is planning to commit suicide and die next to her body, which he thinks is already dead. For this purpose, he looks out an Apothecary, who has poison to sell, even though it is illegal to sell it is Mantua:

I do remember an apothecary,

And hereabouts 'a dwells, which late I noted

In tattered weeds, with overwhelming brows,

Culling of simples. Meager were his looks,

Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;

And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,

An alligator stuffed, and other skins

Of ill0shaped fishes; and about his shelves

A beggarly account of empty boxes...

Because of the poverty of the Apothecary, Romeo knows that he will be able to buy the poison he is after because the Apothecary will want the money. It is therefore the Apothecary that supplies Romeo with the poison that he needs to take his own life and be united with his true love Juliet for all eternity.

taangerine's profile pic

taangerine | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo received the bottle of poison by going to the apothecary. 

crystaltu001's profile pic

crystaltu001 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Selling poison is illegal so Romeo went to an apothecary to get the poison. The reason Romeo buys the poison because he didn't know about Juliet faking her death to be with him, and he would do anything to be with her. So he buys the poison and drinks it. 

jess1999's profile pic

jess1999 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Romeo goes to an apothecary to get the poison . Since selling poison is basically illegal , Romeo had to bribe the apothecary in order to get the poison .