What does Paris do when he sees Romeo outside Juliet's tomb?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The final scene of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet opens with Count Paris and his page outside Capulet's tomb where the body of Juliet, supposedly dead, has recently been placed. Paris tells his page to go under the nearby trees, lay on the ground, and listen for anyone approaching. Paris then busies himself with spreading flowers and sweet water outside the tomb. When the page signals that someone is coming, Paris "retires" from the scene as Romeo and his servant Balthasar come on stage. Romeo dismisses Balthasar and then begins opening the door of the tomb with a "mattock" and "wrenching iron." Paris witnesses this and believes Romeo must be there to vandalize the tomb. He says,

This is that banished haughty Montague
That murdered my love’s cousin, with which grief
It is supposèd the fair creature died,
And here is come to do some villainous shame
To the dead bodies. I will apprehend him.

In a case of dramatic irony, Paris knows nothing about the marriage between Romeo and Juliet, so he jumps to the conclusion that Romeo is a "villain" and must be put to death because he is in Verona after being sentenced to banishment by the Prince. When he attempts to stop Romeo from opening the tomb, the two men fight, and Romeo kills him.

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Romeo and Juliet

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