Act V – Scene.iii
It is nighttime at the Capulet tomb and Paris enters with a servant.
He starts to scatter flowers on Juliet’s grave. He hears someone approach and hides. It is Romeo carrying a crowbar accompanied by Balthasar. Romeo tells Balthasar that he has come to take back a valuable ring he had given to Juliet and asks him to leave. He is to deliver to Montague his letter in the morning, but Balthasar mistrusts his master’s intentions.
Paris reveals himself, confronting Romeo, the man who murdered Tybalt and
has indirectly murdered Juliet, since he supposes it was grief that killed Juliet. Paris thinks that Romeo wishes to defile the Capulet tomb and dishonor the corpse of Tybalt.
Romeo pleads with Paris to leave him, but a fight is inevitable and Romeo
Paris’ servant runs off to obtain the civil watch. Paris makes a dying request to Romeo that he is laid near Juliet in the tomb. Carrying Paris’ body Romeo descends into the tomb and wonders how Juliet can look so beautiful in death. He kisses Juliet then drinks the poison and dies.
The Friar enters the churchyard and meets Balthasar who informs him that
Romeo is in the tomb. The Friar enters the tomb where he finds the body of Paris and then that of Romeo. Just then Juliet awakes.
Juliet asks for her husband, but the Friar responds that both Romeo and
Paris are dead and that she must leave quickly before the watch arrives.
Juliet refuses and the Friar leaves without her. Looking at the empty vial, she assumes that Romeo has taken poison and hopes that there might be some drops left on Romeo’s lips, but to no avail.
The civil watch approaches and Juliet unsheathes Romeo’s dagger, says ‘O
happy dagger, this is thy sheath’ stabs herself and falls upon Romeo’s body.
There is mayhem in the churchyard when the watch arrives, on the discovery
of bloodstains near the tomb. They apprehend Balthasar and Friar Laurence who are discovered nearby, and then the Prince and Capulets enter.
The three bodies are discovered in the tomb and then Montague arrives
declaring that his wife has died from grief over Romeo’s exile.
There is much confusion until the Friar tells the story of Romeo and
Juliet’s secret marriage and its outcome.
Balthasar gives the Prince the letter Romeo had written to his father, thus
confirming the Friar’s story.
The Prince shows his anger and condemns the two families concerning their
feud, and also the loss of so many kinsmen.
Capulet and Montague clasp hands and agree to put the past behind them and
bury the hatchet. They agree to build golden statues in honor of Romeo and Juliet.
The Prince closes the tragedy with the line ‘A story of more woe than this
of Juliet and her Romeo’.
It is useful to catalogue the events leading up to the final tragedy.
Juliet drinks a sleeping draught, which makes her appear dead.
Romeo thinking Juliet is dead drinks poison.
Juliet regains consciousness. Seeing her dead husband, she stabs
herself through the heart with Romeo’s dagger.
A recurring theme throughout the play has been the possibility of suicide.
The climax of the tragedy is the double suicide in the Capulet tomb.
Shakespeare suggests that where intense love is involved which cannot be
fulfilled then suicide is the likely alternative.
The passion that Romeo and Juliet have for one another cannot be stifled or suppressed and combined with their youth provides a recipe for final and absolute tragedy. Being unable to live for their love, Romeo and Juliet die for it.
Shakespeare makes a comment that the world in which they lived was not
worthy of the love they had for each other, and so the lovers have robbed the world of their special love.
Shakespeare cleverly uses Juliet’s final kiss of Romeo as a weapon of
potential death and when Juliet fails to pick up any poison from Romeo’s lips she is overjoyed to find his dagger, exclaiming ‘Happy dagger’ because this implement of death will reunite her with her love.
The closing scene has all the powerful forces converging on the tragic set.
From beyond the grave the love that Romeo and Juliet had for each other is
sufficient to heal the rift between the two families and perhaps through their sacrifice, the world that they left may become a better place. The Prince recognizes this.
The irony is that this new world in Verona would have allowed Romeo and
Juliet to live and love together.
Romeo and Juliet’s deaths were inevitable because they were products of the
world in which they lived.
Over the centuries, Romeo and Juliet have epitomized true love, because they
were willing to sacrifice their lives in order not to compromise their love.
They are making the statement that their love is not just for this world,
but also for all eternity.