Why couldn't they just tell their families? Why did they have to die like that?  Well its hard to explain but they didn't want to hurt their family.

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I believe that it is Romeo and Juliet's PERCEPTION that their families would not accept their union that led them to keep everything secret.  If you remember, at the Capulet party, Tybalt recognizes Romeo 's voice and tells his uncle that a Montague has crashed the party.  Mr. Capulet's...

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I believe that it is Romeo and Juliet's PERCEPTION that their families would not accept their union that led them to keep everything secret.  If you remember, at the Capulet party, Tybalt recognizes Romeo's voice and tells his uncle that a Montague has crashed the party.  Mr. Capulet's response was that Tybalt should not worry about the intruder and that he had, in fact, heard that Romeo was a fine young man.  After the Prince had made his proclamation that the next one to disturb the streets with the feud would be put to death, Mr. Capulet had even remarked to Paris, "'tis not hard, I think,/
For men so old as we to keep the peace", hinting that he would not be as willing to engage in the fighting any lionger.   It was TYBALT who went after Romeo the next day to defend the family's "honor" at having their party crashed by a Montague.  Romeo had not interest in fighting him, but Mercutio decided to goad Tyblat on.  With the slaying of Mercutio, Romeo reacted out of anger, thus feuling the feud with Tybalt's death.

So as to your question, it was the youngsters' perception that the other would not be accepted (based on past performances in the streets of Verona) that led them to keep silent.  If only Juliet had overheard her father remarking about Romeo being a fine young man, the story might have gone from a tragedy to a fairy tale.

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Because their families were enemies.  Their love would never have been approved.  Juliet, most likely, would have been shipped off somewhere to live with a relative, to school, or marriage far away from Romeo.

Romeo's fate may have been similar.  It was not uncommon for young men to be shipped off for studies abroad.

At any rate, the families would have done all within their power (they had a lot of it as they were both affluent in the community) to keep the two separated.

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