Romeo and Juliet Characters

The main characters in Romeo and Juliet are Romeo Montague, Juliet Capulet, Mercutio, Friar Laurence, the Capulets, the Montagues, Paris, and Tybalt.

  • Romeo Montague is a romantic youth who falls in love with Juliet.
  • Juliet Capulet falls in love with Romeo and help form a plan to run away with him.
  • Mercutio is Romeo's friend, who dies in a duel against Tybalt.
  • Friar Laurence is a priest who tries to help Romeo and Juliet.
  • The Capulets are Juliet's family.
  • The Montagues are Romeo's family.
  • Paris is a young nobleman and Juliet's betrothed.
  • Tybalt is Juliet's cousin, who slays Mercutio in a duel and is himself slain by Romeo.

Romeo

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Last Updated on February 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 68

Romeo is one of the titular characters in Shakespeare’s famed romantic tragedy and Juliet’s young lover. He is the only son of Lord and Lady Montague, nobles of Verona. Although intelligent, he is also immature, impetuous, and reckless. His one focus throughout the play is love, though not necessarily the women to whom he alleges his love. (Read extended character analysis for Romeo.)

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Juliet

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Last Updated on February 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 57

Juliet is one of the titular characters in Shakespeare’s tragic love story and Romeo’s lover. The only daughter of Lord and Lady Capulet, Juliet is almost fourteen years old when the play opens. She is characterized early on in the play by her compliance and respect for authority. (Read extended character analysis for Juliet.)

Mercutio

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Last Updated on February 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 46

Mercutio is Romeo’s friend and the prince’s kinsman. His name—which recalls the adjective “mercurial,” meaning volatile; mercury, the ungraspable, fluid metal; and Mercury, the Roman God of messages and trickery—sheds light on his complex character. (Read extended character analysis for Mercutio.)

The Nurse

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Last Updated on February 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 64

Juliet’s nurse is a servant in the Capulet family who wet nursed Juliet as an infant and has raised her ever since. After the death of her infant daughter, Susan, the Nurse treats Juliet as her own daughter. She serves as Juliet’s main confidante and companion; Juliet trusts her nurse with her most intimate secrets. (Read extended character analysis for the Nurse.)

Friar Laurence

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Last Reviewed on February 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 54

Friar Laurence is a good-hearted Franciscan friar who marries Romeo and Juliet in hopes that their union will end the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. He is one of the most peaceful and wise characters, whose well-intentioned efforts ironically lead to the two lovers’ deaths. (Read extended character analysis for Friar Laurence.)

Benvolio

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Last Updated on November 5, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 256

Benvolio is Lord Montague’s nephew and Romeo’s cousin and friend. Benvolio is the calmest and most even-keeled of the Montagues. Throughout the play, he serves as the peacemaker between the two feuding families by advocating against violence and demonstrating common sense. However, his efforts at reconciliation ultimately fail.

Benvolio’s name, which means “good will” in Italian, signals his role within the play. In act I, scene I, he breaks up a fight between the servants of the Capulet and Montague clans, saying “Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do.” When he sees that Romeo is crestfallen, he prods his friend and discovers that he is suffering from lovesickness. Benvolio recommends that Romeo attend the Capulet party to get over Rosaline and meet other women.

Benvolio serves as a foil to Romeo’s hot-headed friend Mercutio. While Mercutio is constantly instigating fights, Benvolio tries to keep the peace. In act III, scene I, Tybalt baits Romeo into fighting him. Romeo refuses to fight, but Mercutio starts provoking Tybalt. Benvolio anticipates a fight in the marketplace, and he tries to de-escalate the argument between Mercutio and Tybalt by asking that they speak together privately. The men ignore Benvolio’s sage advice and fight, resulting in Mercutio's fatal wounding. After the fight, Benvolio urges Romeo to flee the scene to save himself from execution. Benvolio is left to tell the prince what happened in the marketplace, defending Romeo's actions as proper behavior and stating how Tybalt and Mercutio both sought conflict.

Tybalt

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Last Updated on February 3, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 275

Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin and Lord Capulet’s nephew. Despite being a minor character in the play, his belligerence spurs much of the plot’s action. Tybalt acts as one of the main antagonists of the Montagues. Whenever any of the Montagues poses a threat, he is quick to retaliate and fight on behalf of the Capulet family. Tybalt is hostile and belligerent but views his efforts as necessary to protect his cousin and his family.

From his first appearance in the play, he advocates for violence, attempting to undermine Benvolio's efforts to stop the servants of the Capulet and Montague households from fighting and even drawing Benvolio into fighting him. Later, during the Capulet's ball Tybalt is quick to point out his enemy Romeo, stating, “when such a villain is a guest: I’ll not endure him” (act I, scene V). Lord Capulet tries to calm him, but Tybalt is intent to “strike [Romeo] dead.”

Stubborn in nature, Tybalt remains fixed on killing Romeo. In act III, he approaches the Montagues and insults Romeo, saying, “the hate I bear thee can afford / no better term than this—thou art a villain.” Romeo refuses to duel, and Mercutio—who is equally fiery and volatile—steps in for Romeo. Romeo and Benvolio protest the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt, but the two continue anyway. Although Tybalt is a skilled swordsman, he is not ashamed to undermine his opponent. As Romeo steps in to protect his friend, Tybalt fatally stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm. Tybalt flees momentarily but returns to finish off Romeo. However, the furious Romeo avenges his friend’s death and slays Tybalt.

The Prince

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Last Updated on November 5, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 307

Escalus is the prince and ruler of Verona and kinsman to Mercutio. Although he only appears in three scenes—act I, scene I; act III, scene I; act V, scene III—Prince Escalus's presence resonates throughout the play because of his authority to dispense justice.

He serves as the neutral arbiter and peacemaker between the Capulets and the Montagues. He first appears in act I, scene I to break up a fight between the Capulet and Montague servants. During the fray, Prince Escalus interjects, “Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, / Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,— / Will they not hear?” An honest and even-handed ruler, he calls on both sides of the feud to put an end to the fighting. This stops the violence for a short time, even affecting Lord Capulet's truculent behavior, but the Capulets and the Montagues fail to heed this decree until later in the play.

He reappears in act III, scene I to hear Benvolio's account of the fatal fight in the marketplace, in which Tybalt and Mercutio, the prince's kinsman, are slain. For Romeo's failure to obey the prince's call to end the blood feud, he exiles Romeo from Verona under penalty of death. Exile is a softer punishment than death, which the prince had earlier declared the fate for violating his decree. It's possible that this decision is based on his kinsman Mercutio's relationship with Romeo.

After the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, Prince Escalus acts as a judge to determine who is at fault for the tragedy. He examines Romeo’s letter to his father and finds that Friar Laurence is innocent. He wisely proclaims that, due to this tragedy, “all are punish’d” (act V, scene III): the prince has lost his kinsman and both families have lost loved ones. He leads the process of reconciliation between the two families.

Lord Capulet

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 387

Lord Capulet is Juliet’s father and the head of the Capulet family. He is a leading figure in the city of Verona. A bellicose and tempestuous man, he is one of the main instigators in the war between the two feuding families. When he first appears on stage, he sees Lord Montague approaching and draws his sword in preparation for a fight. However, he quickly takes on a more amiable demeanor after the prince forbids fighting between the two families.

Despite his initially aggressive behavior, Lord Capulet remains primarily concerned with keeping his house in order, especially after the prince's promise to execute anyone who disturbs the peace. This concern manifests at the Capulet ball, where Lord Capulet takes pains to ensure that Tybalt does not attack Romeo. He even goes so far as to peaceably accept Romeo's presence at the ball, choosing to compliment the dancers, joke with his guests, and be a good host.

Although he loves his daughter, Lord Capulet displays an inability to relate to her and understand her feelings. He initially rebuffs Paris's asking for Juliet's hand in marriage, claiming that she is still too young. However, as Paris continues to negotiate with him, Lord Capulet gives the marriage his blessing and assumes that Juliet will do what is expected of her. These conversations reveal that Lord Capulet is more concerned about his public image than he is about his daughter's feelings and future well-being. He misinterprets Juliet’s sadness over Romeo’s banishment as a response to Tybalt’s death. He also assumes that Juliet will follow his every command and becomes furious when she refuses to marry Paris, even threatening to throw her out to the streets. Despite Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris, Lord Capulet proceeds to prepare their wedding. Later, when Juliet apologizes for her stubbornness, Lord Capulet focuses only on changing the wedding date and moving forward—further evidence of how out of touch he is with Juliet's desires.

It is only after Juliet’s death that Lord Capulet demonstrates compassion. His sorrow reflects the loss of not only his daughter but also the loss of an heir to the Capulet family name. Recognizing this loss as he grieves his daughter’s death, he takes hold of Lord Montague’s hand as a sign of reconciliation

Lady Capulet

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 119

Lady Capulet is Juliet’s mother and Lord Capulet’s wife. Throughout the play, her main concern is finding Juliet a husband. Lady Capulet married Lord Capulet and gave birth when she was Juliet’s age, so she expects the same path for her daughter. Despite Juliet’s disinterest in marriage—Juliet states, “It is an honour that I dream not of” (act I, scene III)—Lady Capulet encourages her daughter to consider marrying Paris. When Juliet refuses, Lady Capulet vows never to speak to her daughter again. However, despite her preoccupation with marriage and her disappointment in her daughter, Lady Capulet demonstrates tenderness in the last scenes of the play, especially as she mourns her daughter’s death.

Lord Montague

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 125

Lord Montague is Romeo’s father and Lady Montague’s husband. The patriarch of the Montague family and a nobleman of Verona, Lord Montague is at war with the Capulets. He is a good father and seems concerned at the start of the play when his son shows signs of depression. Although he appears infrequently in the play, he seems to be a more loyal and supportive father to Romeo than Lord Capulet is to Juliet. After Mercutio’s and Tybalt’s deaths, Lord Montague defends his son’s actions. When he learns of his son’s death in the final scene, he puts aside his differences with the Capulets. He vows to build a golden statue of Juliet to pay homage to her faithfulness.

Lady Montague

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 54

A docile and tender woman, Lady Montague is Lord Montague’s wife and Romeo’s mother. She is the most peaceful of the parental figures in the play, and she pleads with her husband to show restraint against the Capulets during the war. She dies of grief after learning of her son’s banishment.

Paris

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 290

Paris is a young nobleman, a kinsman to Prince Escalus, and a suitor to Juliet. He is the quintessential noble suitor: handsome, affluent, and well-mannered. Although he claims that he is in love with Juliet, their courtship seems more in line with Elizabethan-era conventions of marrying for wealth and nobility than for pure and authentic love.

Over the course of the play, Paris spends more time speaking with Lord Capulet than with Juliet. When Paris asks Lord Capulet for his daughter’s hand in marriage, Lord Capulet at first refuses, saying that his daughter “hath not seen the change of fourteen years.” He then asks that Paris wait to marry her. Paris, however, does not see their age difference as a problem, and he retorts, “Younger than she are happy mothers made” (act I, scene II).

Juliet is adamant in her refusal to marry the much-older Paris, but both Paris and her parents seem oblivious to her feelings. Paris and the Capulets are more preoccupied with planning the wedding than with Juliet’s well-being. When Paris and Juliet meet with Friar Laurence to make wedding arrangements, Juliet is resigned to the prospect of marrying Paris, saying, “What must be shall be.” Paris glosses over her words, calling her a “poor soul” and repeating his adamance on marrying her “Thursday next.” Furthermore, like Lord and Lady Capulet, Paris mistakenly believes that Juliet cries over Tybalt’s death instead of Romeo’s banishment.

Despite being oblivious to the concerns of Juliet, Paris demonstrates sincerity toward the end of the play. He seems genuinely pleased with the upcoming wedding and calls Juliet his “lady,” “wife,” and “love.” When she supposedly dies, Paris seems genuinely distraught, and he brings flowers to the Capulet tomb.

The Chorus

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 108

The chorus is a group of people who provide commentary about the plot and setting of the play. This dramatic device—which Shakespeare employs frequently throughout his plays—first emerged out of classical Greek drama.

In Romeo and Juliet, the chorus speaks in the prologues of act I and act II, which establish the story and foreshadow the play’s ending. In the first prologue, the chorus sets up the rift between “two households, both alike in dignity,” the setting in “fair Verona, where we lay our scene,” and the impending deaths of the two lovers. The second prologue in act II discusses the passion of “young affection.”

Friar John

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 68

Friar John is a Franciscan friar tasked by Friar Laurence to deliver a letter to Romeo informing him about Juliet’s induced sleep. However, Friar John is quarantined due to the plague and delayed in delivering the letter. This mishap lays the groundwork for the tragedy of the play: Romeo fails to discover that Juliet has taken a sleeping potion and assuming that she is dead, poisons himself.

Abram

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Last Updated on November 5, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 25

A servant of the Montague family, Abram is involved in the brawl between the Capulet and Montague servants in the opening scene of the play.

Balthasar

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Last Updated on November 5, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 72

Balthasar is a loyal servant to the Montagues. He is present in the quarrel between the Capulet and Montague servants in the first scene, though he does not fight. Balthasar reappears later in the play when he reports the news of Juliet’s supposed death to Romeo. In the final scenes, he gives Prince Escalus the letter that Romeo wrote to his father, which corroborates Friar Laurence’s testimony of the tragedy.

Gregory

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 29

A Capulet servant, Gregory jokes around with Sampson in the opening scene. He is dragged into a fight when Sampson bites his thumb at servants from the Montague household.

Sampson

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 23

A Capulet servant, Sampson provokes a fight with the Montague’s servants Abram and Balthasar when he insultingly bites his thumb at them.

Peter

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 71

Peter is the servant to Juliet’s nurse. When Lord Capulet gives Peter the invitation list for the ball, the illiterate Peter looks for someone who can read. He enlists the help of Romeo and Benvolio, who decide to crash the ball once they see that Rosaline, as well as many other women, will be in attendance. Peter, who does not recognize the men as Montagues, invites them to the ball.

The Apothecary

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 18

The apothecary is a thin, destitute potion-peddler who lives in Mantua. He illegally sells Romeo the deadly poison.

Paris's Page

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Last Updated on April 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 31

Paris’s page, a young male servant, joins Paris on his visit to Juliet’s grave in the Capulet tomb. He witnesses Romeo and Paris’s fight before alerting the watch.

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Romeo