What happens in Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I Romeo is sad because his girlfriend broke up with him and his family is feuding with the Capulets.  His friends tell him to get on with his life, so he goes to a party and meets Juliet.

Act I of Romeo and Juliet follows the typical Shakespeare timeline.  It is the introduction.  Act I is where we meet the characters, find out the initial problem, and get to know the setting.  We learn that the play takes place in Verona, and mostly involves two young people named Romeo and Juliet.  Their families are feuding, and it upsets them—especially Romeo.

O me! What fray was here?

Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.

Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate! (Act 1, Scene 1)

Romeo does not understand the world.  He doesn’t understand why his girlfriend decided to be chaste, or why his family is feuding with the Capulet family.  He is depressed and sad.  Juliet also has troubles.  Her parents want her to get married, and she is not ready.  Juliet’s reply when asked how she feels about marriage is a bit sarcastic.

It is an honour that I dream not of.(70)  (Act I, Scene 3)

Act I throws these two young people together at the ball, where they meet and instantly fall in love.  At the end of Act I everything is perfect.  Act II is where the trouble starts.