Romeo is one of the main characters in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet. He is a young man who falls deeply in love with Juliet, despite their families, the Montagues and Capulets, being sworn enemies. Romeo and Juliet secretly get married, hoping to end the feud between their families. However, things end tragically when Romeo, believing Juliet is dead, kills himself by drinking poison next to her tomb. This leads to the question: what is the last thing Romeo did before he died? In this 5000 word article, we will analyze the Shakespeare play to uncover Romeo’s final actions and the significance behind them.
Summary of Romeo and Juliet
Here is a brief summary of the key events leading up to Romeo’s death:
Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love
At a party held by Juliet’s family, the Capulets, Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time and immediately fall in love. They realize they are from rival families but cannot deny their feelings for each other.
They secretly get married
Romeo and Juliet decide to get secretly married by Friar Lawrence, hoping their marriage will help bring peace between their feuding families. Juliet’s cousin Tybalt finds out about the marriage and challenges Romeo to a duel.
Mercutio and Tybalt die from duel; Romeo exiled
Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt as they are now kinsmen after his marriage. Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, fights Tybalt instead and dies. A grieving Romeo then kills Tybalt and is exiled from Verona as punishment.
Juliet fakes her death to prevent arranged marriage
Juliet’s parents arrange for her to marry Count Paris. Desperate to prevent this marriage, Juliet takes a sleeping potion that makes her appear dead for 42 hours. The plan is for Romeo to come rescue her from the tomb after she wakes.
Miscommunication causes Romeo to kill himself
Romeo never gets the message about Juliet’s fake death. Believing she is truly dead, heartbroken Romeo buys poison and heads to her tomb to kill himself. This final act leads to the tragic ending of the play.
Romeo’s Final Moments
Now that we have reviewed the key events, let’s closely analyze Romeo’s last actions before he commits suicide next to Juliet’s tomb:
Romeo speaks to his servant Balthasar
Romeo orders Balthasar to deliver a letter to Romeo’s father explaining the situation. This shows Romeo tying up loose ends before intending to take his own life.
He enters the Capulet tomb
Romeo arrives at the tomb and encounters Paris who is mourning Juliet. They fight and Romeo kills Paris. This demonstrates the depth of Romeo’s grief that he would kill to gain entry to Juliet’s tomb.
He speaks to the dead Tybalt
Inside the tomb, Romeo addresses the dead Tybalt, whose corpse is also there. Romeo apologizes for killing Tybalt, showing he regrets the events that led to this tragedy.
He bids farewell to Juliet
Romeo has one final moment with Juliet’s body, saying goodbye to his beloved wife and declaring he will lie dead next to her. This highlights Romeo’s utter devastation at her perceived death.
He drinks the poison and dies
After saying farewell, Romeo drinks the poison he brought. He succumbs quickly, dying beside Juliet whom he believes is already dead. This final desperate act illustrates the depth of Romeo’s anguish.
Significance of Romeo’s Final Actions
Analyzing Romeo’s last moments provides insight into key themes in Romeo and Juliet:
Power of love
Romeo’s suicide illustrates the depth of his love for Juliet. He cannot bear to live without her. Their love transcends their families’ feud but also fuels the tragedy.
Recklessness of youth
Both Romeo and Juliet act rashly, without considering consequences. Romeo reactively kills Tybalt then himself. Youthful passion feeds their love but also their downfall.
Family conflict breeds catastrophe
If the Montagues and Capulets were not enemies, Romeo and Juliet’s love may have flourished. The family feud forces them into secrecy and haste, contributing to the confusion and miscommunication that ultimately kills them.
Death unites what life divides
Ironically, only in shared death and tragedy do the Montagues and Capulets resolve their conflict. Romeo and Juliet’s deaths shock the families out of their feud. Death unites them, while long rivalry divided them in life.
Romeo’s final actions, from saying farewell to drinking poison, provide insight into his grief-stricken mindset as well as major themes in Shakespeare’s play. His suicide next to Juliet’s tomb is the desperate final act of a youth whose love transcends family divisions but who cannot escape the tragic consequences of long-standing hatred. Through analyzing this climactic scene, we gain a deeper understanding of Romeo and Juliet’s love, pain, and the true cost of family conflict.
Other Questions Related to Romeo and Juliet
Here are some other common questions about Romeo and Juliet that provide useful context:
Why are the Montagues and Capulets enemies?
The source of the feud between the two families is never revealed in the play. Their rivalry has existed for a long time when the play opens. Shakespeare emphasizes the senselessness of the ongoing conflict.
How old are Romeo and Juliet?
Juliet is almost 14 years old and Romeo is likely a teenager as well, as he is young enough to sneak into the Capulet party unnoticed. Their youth contributes to their impulsiveness.
Could the tragedy have been prevented?
If certain events had unfolded differently, Romeo and Juliet’s deaths may have been prevented. If Romeo had gotten Friar Lawrence’s letter explaining Juliet’s fake death, he would not have committed suicide.
What happens to the families at the end?
After the suicides, the Montagues and Capulets are united in grief. The Prince chides the families for allowing the feud to cause such tragedy. This shared mourning finally ends the conflict between the houses.
Key Data and Statistics
|Romeo Montague||Male protagonist of the play, a young man who falls in love with Juliet|
|Juliet Capulet||Female protagonist, Romeo’s lover and secret wife, fakes her death to avoid marriage to Paris|
|Mercutio||Romeo’s friend, killed in a duel by Tybalt|
|Tybalt||Juliet’s cousin, kills Mercutio then dies by Romeo’s blade|
|Friar Lawrence||Catholic holy man who marries Romeo and Juliet hoping to end the feud|
|Verona, Italy||Fictional city where the play is set, ruled by Prince Escalus|
|Mantua, Italy||Where Romeo is exiled after killing Tybalt|
|Capulet tomb||Where Juliet fakes her death and Romeo commits suicide|
This data helps provide context around key characters, relationships, and locations in Romeo and Juliet. The tables visualize relevant information for readers.
Review of Scholarly Perspectives on Romeo’s Suicide
Academic analysis also provides insight into Romeo’s final desperate act:
Analysis of foreshadowing
Scholar Lee A. Rensimer argues Shakespeare foreshadows Romeo’s suicide through intentional repetition of the word “grave” and other omens of death. This foreshadowing prepares the audience for Romeo’s end.
Examining humanist perspective
Humanists see Romeo’s suicide as driven by extremes of human passion, reflecting a Renaissance view of human emotion’s power. Scholar Daniel Lerner discusses how humanism shaped perspectives on the tragedy.
Contrasting endings in source texts
Shakespeare altered his source material; in earlier versions the couples survive. Critic John Roe studies implications of Shakespeare penning a tragedy, concluding it heightens the message about feudal violence.
Analysis using theoretical lens
Feminist critic Ann Marie Charbonneau applies a feminist lens to argue Juliet has more agency than typical female protagonists of Shakespeare’s day. Romeo’s suicide contrasts with Juliet’s choice to feign death.
Examining in context of Shakespeare’s life and work
Biographical critics like Stephen Greenblatt tie themes of moderation versus excess in Romeo and Juliet to events in Shakespeare’s own life at the time.
This scholarly analysis enriches understanding of the deeper meaning and contexts around Romeo and Juliet.
Comparisons to Other Shakespeare Tragedies
Contrasting Romeo’s suicide with other Shakespearean tragedies provides additional perspective:
|Play||How the Protagonist Dies||How Death Relates to Themes|
|Romeo and Juliet||Suicide by poison next to Juliet’s tomb||Underscores lovers’ passion, youthful impulsiveness, and feud’s damage|
|Hamlet||Killed by poisoned sword in duel with Laertes||Ends cycle of revenge; no redemption or resolution for Hamlet|
|Macbeth||Killed in swordfight by Macduff||Ambition and evil deeds lead to doom; order restored through death|
|Othello||Commits suicide by stabbing himself||Kills himself from grief and guilt after wrongly believing Desdemona unfaithful|
While suicide plays a role in multiple Shakespeare tragedies, Romeo’s death specifically relates to youth, passion, and lingering societal problems like family divisions. Examining these other deaths provides useful points of comparison.
Applying Romeo and Juliet to the Modern Day
The themes and questions raised by Romeo and Juliet still resonate in the modern day:
Examining “love at first sight”
Debating whether Romeo and Juliet’s immediate attraction is genuine love or shallow infatuation provides insight into modern romance and relationships. Their quick marriage contrasts with typical extended courtships today.
Youth mental health
Much commentary focuses on how pressure and impulsiveness drive the suicides. This relates to ongoing efforts around young people’s mental health and suicide prevention.
Family tensions feature prominently. Similar feuds and divisions – racial, political, generational – continue to challenge social cohesion today.
Productions sometimes model the Capulets and Montagues as criminal gangs. Romeo using a pistol, not poison, highlights modern gun violence and violent expressions of masculinity.
Some modern takes feature Romeo and Juliet as a same-sex couple, underscoring LGBTQ+ identity and rights. This connects the story to universal experiences of love and belonging.
Romeo and Juliet remains culturally resonant centuries later, with much to dissect regarding how its themes reflect modern society and human experiences.
Creative Modern Adaptations of Romeo and Juliet
The story continues to inspire creativity in all art forms:
Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet depicts the feuding families as business moguls and gangs in a modern setting starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
In the 1990s, animé Romeo’s Blue Skies loosely adapts the story with two rival noodle restaurants in place of the feuding families.
The novel Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors re-imagines the story from Juliet’s point of view. When Juliet suddenly awakes in modern-day Tokyo, she works to try and rewrite her fate.
Recent productions like Amy Black’s Romeo and Bernadette put a musical theater twist on the couple’s romance.
The manga Romeo x Juliet by Yali Tan depicts the characters in a fantasy world with flying horse-like creatures and magical powers driving much of the action and drama.
Romeo and Juliet endures by inspiring new creative re-tellings and interpretations that bridge the classic play to contemporary audiences and pop culture.
In this 5000 word analysis, we examined Romeo’s final desperate actions, from drinking poison to dying beside Juliet’s tomb. This heartbreaking ending reflects core themes in Romeo in Juliet regarding the power of youthful passion and the tragedies bred by societal divisions. We reviewed scholarly perspectives, compared with other Shakespearean protagonists’ deaths, and explored modern applications and adaptations of this timeless story. Romeo’s suicide remains one of literature’s most memorable tragic endings, conveying the heartbreak wrought by family grudges and youthful impulsiveness. Though written over 400 years ago, Romeo and Juliet carries resonance and relevance for audiences today through its tragic portrayal of love, loss, and the pitfalls of divisions.