Who is involved in the conflict that begins Act One of Romeo and Juliet?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act One of Romeo and Juliet begins with an example of the bitter conflict between the Capulets and the Montagues. We have already learned from the Chorus that the feud between the two families has divided the city of Verona for many years, and we see this play out in the first scene. An encounter between Sampson and Gregorio of the house of Capulet and Abram and Balthasar, servingmen of the house of Montague, leads to a violent struggle. When Benvolio (a Montague) arrives on the scene, he attempts to part the two, reminding them that the Prince has forbidden fighting in the streets. Tybalt, the hot-headed Capulet, then shows up, threatening and challenging Benvolio to a fight. The scene descends into chaos as a crowd of angry citizens arrives in advance of the patriarchs of the two families, who themselves are eager to join the fight. The Prince of Verona then shows up, parting the two quarreling parties and threatening death to anyone who started another such fight in the streets of Verona. This scene illustrates the extent of the hatred between the two families, highlighting the dangers inherent in Romeo and Juliet's forbidden love.