How is Romeo and Juliet suspenseful throughout the whole play?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The plot of Romeo and Juliet is suspenseful throughout the drama because of fast action and several conflicts.

  • Action

The entire drama takes place in only five days: It begins on a Sunday morning and ends on Thursday evening. During this short time the following things happen:

  1. On a Sunday morning a street fight between the feuding Capulets and Montagues takes place
  2. The Prince arrives to stop the feuding, and he threatens to put to death anyone who fights again.
  3. The Capulets have a masqued ball in honor of Juliet's birthday. There Romeo, who is trying to forget Rosaline, first sees her. Tybalt also spots Romeo and wants to kill him.
  4. Romeo gets near Juliet, the touch hands and fall in love, later pledging their love and deciding to marry.
  5. Friar Laurence marries them, hoping to end the feud between the two families. The Nurse obtains ropes so that Romeo can later climb to Juliet's bedroom.
  6. On a very hot day, Benvolio and Mercutio run into Tybalt and Mercutio and Tybalt argue. Romeo enters, tries to end the heated exchange and ends up slaying Tybalt because Tybalt has reached through him and killed Mercutio.
  7. Romeo must hide after this murder Tybalt because of the Prince's order. He is banished to Mantua.
  8. Romeo and Juliet consummate their marriage.
  9. Juliet's father tells her she must marry Paris; however, she refuses her father's wishes and runs to Friar Laurence, telling him she will commit suicide.
  10. Friar Laurence devises a plan to simulate Juliet's death (she drinks a potion) for a few days so that they will be so happy when she comes "back to life" that they will agree to her marriage to Romeo.
  11. Juliet drinks the potion which will simulate her death.
  12. A plague comes to Mantua and the town is quarantined, so Friar Laurence's message about his plan with Juliet does not reach him.
  13. After the Nurse discovers the "dead" Juliet, the wedding plans with Paris are forgotten.
  14. Romeo learns of Juliet's "death." He plans to visit her tomb and kill himself in order to join his wife. Friar Laurence, who has come for Juliet, runs away from the tomb and does not wait for Juliet to wake.
  15. Romeo visits Juliet's tomb and finds Paris there; they fight and Romeo kills Paris. When Romeo cries as he sees Juliet "dead" and then commits suicide himself.
  16. The families Capulet and Montague end their feud on Thursday evening
  • Conflicts

There are several conflicts:

  1. The servants of the Capulets and Montagues do not like each other.
  2. Rosaline rejects Romeo
  3. The Prince conflicts with his subjects
  4. Juliet does not want to marry Paris, but promises to look at him.
  5. Romeo meets Juliet, but realizes that their families are enemies.
  6. Friar Laurence does not want to perform the marriage of Romeo and Juliet.
  7. After the friar does perform the marriage, Romeo tries to be with his new wife.
  8. Tybalt and Mercutio argue and fight. Tybalt kills Mercutio
  9. Romeo and Tybalt conflict and fight; Romeo kills Tybalt.
  10. Juliet's father tells her she must marry Paris; Juliet argues with the Nurse. 
  11. Juliet runs in desperation to Friar Laurence, saying she will kill herself.
  12. Romeo wants to see Juliet when he hears what has become of her. He tries to buy poison.
  13. Romeo kills Paris, who also enters the tomb, shortly after Romeo arrives.
  14. Friar Laurence is too afraid to stay in the catacombs when he hears the guards, so he flees, despite Juliet's needs.
  15. Thinking Juliet is dead, Romeo slays himself.
  16. Juliet awakens and then kills herself.
mck3mama | Student

The story of Romeo and Juliet is tragic as well as suspenseful.  In the beginning of the play, we find that the Capulets and Montagues are feuding families.  During the play, we are curious to find out why are they are feuding but it is never old.  Romeo and Juliet spot each other at a birthday party and although Juliet's parents wants her to marry someone else, she becomes smitten with Romeo.  During this time, Tybalt kills Mercutio, and Romeo kills Tybalt.  Everyone thinks that Juliet is grieving for her cousin, but she is really grieving for Romeo for he was banished. After Romeo and Juliet makes love, Romeo leaves from her balcony, leaving the readers in more suspense because he is playing with fire: he would be in trouble if he is caught by the government for being back in Verona and he would be in trouble with the Capulets if he is caught with his daughter.  Juliet is told by her father that she has to marry Paris, and in desperation, she goes to the friar.  He gives her a potion to drink to make it seem as if she were dead.  Unfortunately, it did not work out.  Romeo saw Juliet's funeral and kills himself because he thought that she was really dead.  Juliet in turn commits suicide.