Love’s Labour’s Lost, Abridged

August 4, 2011 at 10:54 am (Love's Labour's Lost, Plot Summaries, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , )

A year after I began… here is a summary of the plot. I began disliking this play very much. I found it very hard to read at first. There is thick satire, intricate wordplay, difficult allusions… it is not easy reading. I was waylaid by other things in my life, but I am glad I had all this time to think about this play. I like it quite a bit now and find it quite light and funny, which was not at all evident to me on first reading.

So, as always, I hope this summary will entice you to read the actual play. There are some wonderfully funny characters here, especially Don Armado and Costard. There are some very funny situations. It is essentially a play about girls versus boys. In this case, the boys are very silly and naive and the girls are more worldly and cynical.

There is very, very little plot to this play, and essentially all the real action happens at the very end. The rest of it is sheer folly (wit and wooing) and words, words, words… or as the introduction in my Penguin edition says, “extravagant excesses of language.”

It makes reading the play a challenge, especially if you take it too seriously! Really, it’s much easier when you do not take too seriously the crazy pig-Latin type lunacy of Holofernes and the over-flowingly flamboyant Armado and the earnest-but-common-sense-lacking King of Navarre. Just go with the flow and enjoy the sexy repartee (when you can understand it).

The ending is very ambiguous… not at all the happily ever after expected in a Shakespearean comedy. No one gets married! Maybe, as some scholars believe, there was a companion play (now lost): Love’s Labour’s Won, that wrapped things up. Or maybe Much Ado About Nothing began in this role and Shakespeare changed his mind. We don’t know. But it’s an intriguing question, because this play ends rather abruptly and with loose ends.

If anyone sees any errors, let me know so I can fix them—this is just based on my casual reading of the text, so I could easily have things out of order or get the details wrong.

Without further ado, here’s… Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Overview
The young King of Navarre and the three young lords, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville, all sign an oath to study for three years with no distraction. They agree to eat and sleep sparingly and to give up the company of women for three years(!), so that they can focus on their serious quest for knowledge.

Berowne points out how difficult it will be to keep these oaths, especially because the Princess of France is due any minute on a diplomatic visit that the King of Navarre forgot about. The King decides to make the Princess and her entourage stay in a field so that the oath that no women come to court isn’t broken.

The Princess and the ladies Rosaline, Katherine and Maria indulge in much girly chatter about the boys who they hear are at court in Navarre. They know them from previous social gatherings and are excited to get reacquainted on this visit. Everyone is in love!

The boys are instantly smitten with the girls when they meet in the field. Thus ensues the silly and extravagant wooing in this play, involving the boys visiting disguised as Russians, and the girls mocking and laughing at the boys as they themselves wear masks and trick the boys by switching places.

There are side stories featuring the rustic clown Costard, the dreamy Spaniard Don Armado and his page Moth, the lusty maid Jaquenetta, and the constable Dull, who lives up to his name. These folks along with the schoolmaster Holofernes (he of the silly Latin) and the cleric Nathaniel, put on the ridiculous play within the play about the “Nine Worthies.”

The poor players are mercilessly heckled during The Nine Worthies, and then Costard and Don Armado prepare to fight when Costard oddly breaks into the play to announce that Jaquenetta is pregnant by Armado. The fight is interrupted by the entrance of a messenger from France, who tells the Princess that her father, the King, is dead.

At this news, the Princess decides to return immediately to France, but the King of Navarre professes his love and asks her to stay. She and the other ladies tell the boys they thought the wooing was all in jest and that if they are in earnest, they must all wait a year and a day and come to France if they still feel the same and want to marry.

The play ends with the singing of a song about Spring (the cuckoo) and Winter (the owl) and Don Armado has the oddly poignant last lines: “The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You, that way: we, this way.” And everyone parts and goes their separate ways. Not the usual celebratory end to a Shakespearean comedy!

The Four Stooges
The play seems so serious at first, as the Earnest (with a capital E!) King of Navarre asks his lords to sign the oaths they have agreed to take in order to focus on their studies and seek Knowledge (with a capital K!). Dumaine and Longaville jump right in, excitedly signing up.

It soon becomes ridiculously apparent that these are impulsive boys and they have agreed to take oaths that will be impossible to keep… even for a day! Berowne, before signing, points out the difficulties of keeping these oaths for three years(!), with the hope that maybe there is some wiggle room. After all, it does not really seem reasonable to get by on one meal a day (with a fast day thrown in each week!), three hours of sleep per night with no napping, and worst of all… to give up the company of all women, who are thereby outlawed from the court.

Giving in to peer pressure (not wanting to appear a wuss), Berowne agrees to sign the oath, but immediately points out that they are going to break it when the Princess of France arrives any minute on her diplomatic mission. Navarre has forgotten about this, and decides that they can break their oath this time “on mere necessity.” Berowne will have none of that, as he says if they do it this time, they will all find a zillion reasons down the road to break the oath “on mere necessity.” So, Navarre decides that if they meet the Princess in the fields outside Navarre, they are not technically breaking the oath.

Three More Stooges
Berowne asks if they will really just study, study, study for three years, with no entertainment, and Navarre points out that the Spaniard Don Adriano de Armado will be around, and he should provide a steady supply of material to mock. Longaville notes that the hayseed Costard will also be around for a good laugh.

Then, the aptly named constable Dull arrives with Costard and a letter from Don Armado tattling on Costard for being caught with the country maid Jaquenetta. Apparently Costard is also supposed to forgo the company of ladies for three years, even though he is not part of the oath. When asked if he knew the new law, he said he’d heard it but didn’t really pay any attention to it. Navarre sentences Costard to a week of fasting under the supervision of Don Armado.

Don Armado converses with his page Moth, who appears to have more common sense than all the other characters combined. Dull delivers Costard to Armado. Armado professes his love to Jaquenetta before Dull takes her away. Moth takes Costard away to “prison,” leaving Armado feeling floridly poetic from his love for Jaquenetta (who you will remember, he just caught in a compromising position with Costard!).

The Princess and her Ladies
The Princess of France and her entourage approach Navarre and send the courtier Boyet ahead for information. He comes back with news of the lords (Berowne, Longaville and Dumain) who are at court with the King of Navarre. This sends the girls all into a flurry of excitement, as they know the boys: Maria has met Longaville, Katherine knows Dumaine, and Rosaline has danced with Berowne. The princess teases them that they are all in love.

Boyet also warns them of the King’s oath and the fact that he intends for them to camp out in the field outside Navarre. Minutes later, the King of Navarre appears and welcomes them to court. The princess rebuffs him for leaving them out in the field. Berowne and Rosaline flirt.

The “Plot”
There is very little plot in this play, but perhaps the diplomatic purpose behind the Princess’s visit to Navarre can be considered the plot. Navarre claims that the Princess’s father, the King of France, owes him money. The Princess claims that it is paid and that she can produce the paperwork to prove it. However, Boyet points out that the papers will not actually arrive until the next day… thus requiring the ladies to stay in Navarre, and providing the opportunity for the extensive wooing that ensues.

Love’s Labours
And then the “courting” begins. Berowne and Rosaline flirt and spar. The boys, like lovesick puppies, take turns asking Boyet about the girls: Dumaine asks about Katherine, Longaville about Maria, Berowne about Rosaline. Then, the girls are all flirting and teasing with Boyet. Boyet tells the Princess that the King is in love with her.

Meanwhile, Armado, who has been writing poetry to Jaquenetta, tells Moth to go get Costard, so he can take the letter to Jaquenetta. There is much punning back and forth between Moth, who stretches every word to its last possible meaning, and Armado, for whom English is a second language, and who has that florid Latin style to his speech.

Don Armado pays Costard to take the letter to Jaquenetta. Costard has a good deal of fun over the word “remuneration” which Armado calls the tip. Costard is then asked by Berowne to take a letter to Rosaline and he flips Costard a coin, which he calls a “guerdon,” leaving Costard to enjoy (verbally) the difference between remuneration and guerdon.

The Thrill of the Hunt
The ladies are out hunting to pass the time. Costard arrives and gives them the wrong letter (Don Armado’s letter intended for Jaquenetta). Boyet reads it (realizing the error immediately) and then there is some rather smutty back and forth between Rosaline and Boyet, with Costard joining in.

Costard and Jaquenetta (who can’t read) take the other letter to Holofernes, the school teacher (also called the Pedant) who reads it and believes since it is from Berowne to Rosaline that it represents treason and should be delivered immediately to the King.

True Confessions
There follows a very comic scene where each of the boys, in turn, enters and thinking themselves alone, declare their undying love for their lady. First Berowne sees the King approach and hides, so he overhears the King say how much he loves the Princess. Then Longaville approaches and the King hides to listen. Then it’s Dumaine’s turn. Longaville calls Dumaine on it (acting all innocent himself). The King comes out of hiding and calls Longaville on it (acting all innocent himself). And Berowne comes out of hiding and calls the King on it (acting all innocent himself).

Costard comes in with the letter Berowne wrote to Rosaline, and so that kind of gives him away, as well. They have all broken their oath to give up women (within hours of making the oath!).

Berowne then eloquently explains that women are actually essential to intellectual achievement, so they all decide it’s fine to break the oath and woo the girls in earnest.

Entertainment
Next is a scene that is truly best not to take too seriously. Holofernes and Nathaniel complain at length about Don Armado’s abuse of the English language (for example, not pronouncing the “l” in calf). And then Costard finds a reason to use the longest word in the English language: honorificabilitudinatatibus. In other words, there is much ado about nothing.

Don Armado finally gets around to asking Holofernes for help planning some evening entertainment for the Princess and the ladies. Holofernes immediately comes up with the idea of presenting a play about the “Nine Worthies” — ancient kings and leaders of note. They decide who will play which parts in the play within the play.

The scene ends with the line that gets the biggest laugh in the play from audiences:

Holofernes: Via, goodman Dull! Thou hast spoken no
word all this while.
Dull: Nor understood none neither, sir.
V.1.139-141

Favors and Masks
The girls get together to gossip about the gifts and letters they have received from the boys. They make fun of the poetry and the Princess tell them they are wise girls to mock their lovers.

Boyet (who has a knack for warning the Princess about whatever is coming next) arrives to tell the Princess that he was eavesdropping and overheard the boys discuss a plan to disguise themselves as Russians and come visit the ladies. They would recognize which lady to woo based on the favors (gifts of jewels) they had just sent.

The Princess immediately decides they should trick the boys by masking themselves and switching favors so that the boys woo the wrong girls. Rosaline will switch with the Princess, and Katherine will switch Maria. Madcap mayhem ensues!

The Muscovites
The men arrive dressed as Russians (Muscovites) and go after the wrong girls, based on the favors. The King goes after Rosaline (thinking she’s the Princess), Berowne after the Princess (thinking she’s Rosaline), Longaville with Katherine (thinking she’s Maria), and of course, Dumaine goes after Maria (thinking she’s Katherine).

The ladies mock the boys. The boys retreat, tails between legs. The girls giggle at the boys’ folly.

Boyet (always the harbinger) tells them that the boys will be back, unmasked. So, the ladies prepare, unmasking themselves and giving the favors back to the rightful owners.

The boys return and ask Boyet to get the girls. Berowne points out that he doesn’t trust Boyet. The girls come out and there is much teasing as it becomes clear that the girls know it was they who were dressed as Muscovites. Rosaline is pretty relentless making fun of them. The boys are humiliated and Dumaine says they should just admit to it.

The King asks the Princess to excuse them for their folly in dressing up. The Princess keeps up the teasing, telling the King he wooed Rosaline and will have to take her now. And telling Berowne all the sweet nothings she heard him say and that now she is his. Berowne blames Boyet for giving the ladies the heads up about the ruse.

The Nine Worthies
Costard arrives and asks if they can now perform the evening’s entertainment: The Nine Worthies. The King worries that the play will be so awful that it will further humiliate them in front of the ladies, however, the Princess intervenes and says she wants to see the play.

Costard comes out in costume as Pompey the Great. Then, Nathaniel does his rendition of Alexander, and is heckled by Boyet. Holofernes portrays Judas Maccabeus, and everyone heckles him. Armado is next, playing Hector, and again he is in the midst of being heckled by the lords and Boyet when Costard interrupts the play to announce that Jaquenetta is two months’ pregnant with Armado’s baby.

Armado challenges Costard, but as they prepare to fight, they are interrupted by the arrival of a messenger from the court of France who tells the Princess that her father, the King of France, is dead.

The Wrap Up with Many Loose Ends
The Princess (now Queen) wants to return to France immediately, but the King of Navarre asks her to stay. She doesn’t understand him and Berowne explains that although they did stupid things, they were serious and are in love with the ladies. The Queen tells them that the girls thought the flirting was all light-hearted pastime and not serious.

The Queen tells Navarre that although she doesn’t trust his oaths (!) that if he is serious, he should become a hermit for a year and if he still feels the same way for her, he can then come to her and she will marry him. Each of the ladies gives her guy a similar put-off for a year… the men are not pleased, but what can they say?

Berowne points out that this is too long for a play. We won’t know if any of them marry (or even see each other again).

Armado enters and says that he has vowed his love to Jaquenetta and will wait three years for her. And then he asks if they would like to hear the song prepared for the end of their play: in praise of the Owl (winter) and Cuckoo (spring). The songs include the bird calls with “cuckoo” sounding like “cuckold” and so not pleasing to married men’s ears. And the owl’s call: “Tu-whit, tu-who!” sounding an awful lot like “To Wit, To Woo” which pretty much sums up the action of this play!

The play then ends with Armado’s parting line: “You, that way: we, this way,” as everyone (including the audience) goes their separate ways.

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Much Ado About Nothing, Abridged

June 9, 2010 at 11:30 pm (Much Ado About Nothing, Plot Summaries, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , , , )

Here is a summary of the plot, and as always, I hope it will entice you to read the actual play. This play is very funny, but there are also some very dark themes. The witty banter between the characters, especially Benedick and Beatrice, can be a bit hard to follow, but it is nonstop and very entertaining. Dogberry and his bumbling cohorts are also very amusing. This play is quite short. I hope you will read it!

If anyone sees any errors, let me know so I can fix them—this is just based on my casual reading of the text, so I could easily have things out of order or get the details wrong.

Without further ado, here’s… Much Ado About Nothing.

Overview
In short, we could call this Three Weddings and a Funeral (although neither the weddings nor the funeral actually take place during the play!). The play is set in Messina (Sicily). The plot centers on Hero and Claudio’s relationship. They plan to marry, but on the night before the wedding, the villainous Don John tricks Claudio into believing that Hero is an unworthy whore.  Claudio jilts her at the altar, causing Hero to faint, and it appears she is dead. Her family hides her, hoping Claudio will miss her and feel remorse. Eventually, thanks to the bumbling Dogberry and the watchmen, the truth comes out, and Hero is proved innocent. Claudio and Hero end up marrying.

It’s interesting because Shakespeare creates the plot around fairly minor, unengaging characters. Hero doesn’t speak much; Claudio is immature and not very likable. Even more interesting is that the plot moves along due to the actions of Don John, an incredibly leaden character who speaks almost not at all in the play!

None of this sounds very funny, does it? The play is quite light-hearted. The fun centers on the banter between the main characters, Benedick and Beatrice. These two have very little to do with the plot, but everything to do with the fun of the play. They begin as bantering adversaries. The other characters see the potential love connection and conspire to bring the two together. Their efforts are fruitful. B&B get married at the end along with Hero and Claudio!

The Soldiers Return
The play opens with a messenger arriving to tell Leonato, the governor of Messina, that Don Pedro and his soldiers are returning from battle and will arrive shortly. Leonato’s niece, Beatrice, asks the messenger if Benedick is returning with the others (he is) and she goes off on a witty tangent about him. She asks who Benedick is hanging out with these days, and the messenger tells her Claudio. This sends the sharp-tongued Beatrice into another tirade.

Don Pedro and his men arrive and Leonato greets them warmly. There is some “guy talk” — lighthearted joking about whether Leonato is Hero’s father (so his wife told him and he didn’t have any reason to doubt her since Benedick was but a child at the time, har, har). Benedick goes on a bit longer than necessary and Beatrice makes fun of him for continuing to talk when no one is listening. This gets the two of them going at each other for the first time in the play. Their witfest is pretty much non-stop whenever the two are near each other. They each profess to being happy if they never marry and neither can stand the other.

In the meantime, Don Pedro has been catching Leonato up on the latest news. Don Pedro agrees to stay in Messina for at least a month. Leonato also invites Don Pedro’s brother Don John, who has been off sulking by himself.

Love Struck
Claudio has seen Hero and has fallen in love. Benedick teases him mercilessly, but Claudio is starry-eyed. Don Pedro thinks she’s a lovely girl and a good match for Claudio.

Benedick makes it clear that he doesn’t trust women and will happily stay a bachelor forever. Don Pedro takes this as a challenge and tells Benedick he’ll see him fall in love. There is much, much, much joking (here and throughout the play) about cuckold horns (referring to women being unfaithful).

Don Pedro and Claudio continue their discussion about Hero, and Pedro offers to help Claudio win her hand. They are attending a masked dance that night, and Don Pedro will pretend to be Claudio, woo Hero, discuss marriage with her father Leonato, and do this all on Claudio’s behalf.

This conversation is overheard and discussed twice. Leonato’s brother Antonio hears it from his servant, and gets it all wrong. Antonio tells Leonato that Don Pedro is going to woo Hero and ask Leonato if he (Don Pedro) can marry her.

Then, Don John, busy telling his man Conrad about how unhappy he is, hears the real story from his man Borachio. Don John is very jealous of Claudio’s closeness with his brother Don Pedro, so hatches a plan to hurt Claudio.

The Masked Dance
Don Pedro makes a beeline for Hero and they dance. A number of other couples dance and chat. B&B spar, with the sharp-tongued Beatrice acting like she doesn’t know that she’s speaking to Benedick, so she says mean things, calling Benedick the prince’s jester and a very dull fool.

Don John tells Claudio that Don Pedro woos Hero for himself. Claudio believes him. When Benedick tells Claudio that Don Pedro was successful in wooing Hero, Claudio leaves in anger to sulk (thinking that Don Pedro wooed her for himself). Benedick tells Don Pedro and Don Pedro says he’ll make it right with Claudio.

Pedro teases Benedick about quarrelling with Beatrice. Benedick is nearly overcome just remembering the conversation with Beatrice. Then, when she approaches, he comes up with a number of hilarious errands he hopes Pedro will send him on to the far reaches of the known world, just to avoid having to hear Beatrice’s voice again. He escapes before she corners him again.

Here Beatrice mentions to Don Pedro that she had once before fallen in love with Benedick and that he deceived her and hurt her. This explains some of her bitterness toward Benedick.

Claudio arrives in a huff and Don Pedro sets him straight, explaining that he wooed Hero in Claudio’s name, as promised, and all is well. While Claudio and Hero get cozy, Don Pedro teasingly proposes to Beatrice. Beatrice turns him down lightly and leaves to run an errand for her uncle Leonato.

Don Pedro tells Leonato that Beatrice would be a fine wife for Benedick. Leonato points out, “O Lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad.” (II.1.333-334)

Leonato asks Claudio to wait a week to marry Hero. Don Pedro hatches a plan to get B&B together while they wait for Claudio and Hero’s wedding. Claudio, Hero and Leonato agree to help.

The Plot Thickens
Borachio tells Don John that Claudio plans to marry Hero, but that Borachio knows how he can put a stop to it. He says Don John should tell Claudio that Hero is disloyal and get him worked up about it. For proof, he should bring Don Pedro and Claudio to stand outside Hero’s window. Borachio says that Hero’s maid Margaret has a thing for him, and that she will go to Hero’s window with him and he’ll call her Hero and it will fool Claudio and Don Pedro. Don John loves the plan and promises to pay Borachio well if it works.

Baiting the Hooks
Benedick is busy talking to himself about how happy he is being a bachelor and how no woman will ever catch him. He hides when he hears others approach.

Don Pedro and Claudio see Benedick hiding. They ask Balthasar to sing. He sings his song:

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never:
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leafy:
Then sigh not so, & c.
II.3.60-73

After the song, Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro proceed to bait the hook for Benedick. They know he is eavesdropping, so they go on at length about how much Beatrice loves Benedick and how she is sick with love for him, but can’t say anything and he would just make fun of her and torment her if he knew. They lay it on so thick. So thick. Here’s an example:

CLAUDIO
Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs,
beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; ‘O
sweet Benedick! God give me patience!’
II.3.143-45

They are so ridiculous, and Benedick hardly believes them except that he can’t imagine Leonato would be in on a mean joke like this. So, Benedick believes that Beatrice loves him and it awakens his love for her.

So, Benedick is reeled in. Now the other hook is baited. Margaret tells Beatrice to go out in the garden because Hero and Ursula are talking about her. Beatrice runs out and hides herself so she can eavesdrop. Ursula and Hero go on and on about how much Benedick loves Beatrice but that Beatrice is too scornful and proud to even tell about it. They lay it on thick. They reel her in. She believes them, her love for Benedick awakens, she must requite it!

Leonato, Claudio and Don Pedro see Benedick and joke that he must be in love (he’s shaved his beard and wearing cologne).

The Window Scene
Don John tells Don Pedro and Claudio that Hero is disloyal and that he can prove it if they meet him beneath her window that night. Claudio believes Don John and vows to disgrace Hero at the altar. Don Pedro agrees.

The window scene is pivotal to the plot of Much Ado About Nothing, and yet Shakespeare doesn’t include the scene in the play. He alludes to it, we see the fallout from it later, but it isn’t staged.

Dogberry and the Watch
Dogberry is the constable, in charge of the watchmen, Messina’s security force. He is a crazy ridiculous character. Much of the time, he says the exact opposite of what he means. A fair amount of the time, he just makes up words. He says everything very seriously, and it all seems to make sense to him! I have to admit he does not always make sense to me.

So, on his first appearance in the play, Dogberry gives the watchmen their orders for the night. And he tells them they should be quiet and fall asleep on the job. And they should mess with the Prince (Don Pedro) if they see him. That kind of thing. It’s odd! ( But funny.) The watchmen take it all in stride and seem satisfied that they know what to do!

Conrad and Borachio (from the Spanish word for “drunken”) chat about “the window scene” that was not seen on stage. That is, Borachio boasts to Conrad about being with Margaret at Hero’s window and calling her Hero while Claudio, Don Pedro and Don Juan watched from below. The watchmen overhear the conversation and arrest both Conrad and Borachio.

In the morning, Hero gets ready for her wedding, and there is much discussion between her and Margaret about the fashion of her gown.

Dogberry and his sidekick Verges try to tell Leonato that they have arrested two suspicious men who they think Leonato should see. However, they are so roundabout and annoying that Leonato loses patience and tells them to examine the suspects themselves and give him the executive summary later. He is too busy getting ready for his daughter’s wedding to be dealing with the bumbling Dogberry.

The Wedding, Interrupted
This is a truly cruel and awful scene. The wedding begins and Hero is blissfully ignorant that anything is wrong. Claudio and Don Pedro say nothing of what they’d witnessed the night before (they think they saw Hero having sex with Borachio at her window) until after Friar Francis begins the ceremony. At this point Claudio starts railing about Hero being a whore and Don Pedro backs him up.

Hero is dumbstruck. She can barely speak. She can barely defend herself. She simply says:

I talked with no man at that hour, my lord.
IV.1.85

Claudio, Don Pedro and Don John go on about what they saw, and Leonato believes them. When her father turns on her, Hero faints dead away. Claudio, Don Pedro, and Don John leave.

Friar Francis believes Hero is innocent and unjustly accused. He comes up with a plan to pretend that Hero is dead, hoping that Claudio will miss her and see how good she really is. And failing that, they can send her off secretly to a convent.

Benedick Tested
Up to this point, Benedick and Beatrice have been flirtatious and silly, but here is a turning point in their relationship. Beatrice is sick about her cousin Hero and knows she is innocent. Benedick asks what he can do to help, and Beatrice replies, shockingly, “Kill Claudio.” (IV.1.288)

At first, Benedick cannot believe she asked this of him, but they keep talking and slowly Benedick comes to understand the depth of Beatrice’s feelings about Hero’s innocence and Claudio’s treachery. She would do it herself if she were a man. Benedick finally agrees to challenge Claudio.

Dogberry is an Ass
The watchmen describe to Dogberry the conversation they overheard between Borachio and Conrad. Dogberry has the sexton write everything down so that they can show it to Leonato. As always, Dogberry is very roundabout and back asswards in his speech, and Conrad actually calls him an ass. Dogberry is utterly offended and cannot believe anyone would say such a thing.

Limbo
The next part of the play I see as a sort of limbo. Everything is in uproar. Leonato tells his brother Antonio how sad he is for his daughter Hero. Antonio is angry and lets loose a tirade on Claudio. Claudio and Don Pedro close ranks and deny slandering Hero — they are confident in the whoring they saw at the window. Claudio is very callous to the old men and acts like he doesn’t care that Hero is dead.

Benedick arrives and Claudio hopes his usual wit and humor will lighten the mood. Twit. Benedick is in an evil mood toward Claudio and threatens him. Don Pedro tries to lighten things up by teasing about Beatrice, but Benedick will have none of it. He tells Don Pedro he can no longer be friends and he will fight Claudio. He tells them they have killed an innocent lady and that Don John has fled the city. Don Pedro is very surprised that Benedick takes this all so seriously.

The Truth
Dogberry walks by with Conrad and Borachio bound. Don Pedro recognizes his brother Don John’s men and asks why they are detained. Borachio, now penitent, tells the whole story of the window scene and the deception and says that Margaret was innocent. Borachio takes full responsibility for Hero’s death. Claudio cannot believe his ears.

Leonato comes and Borachio also tells him the story and takes responsibility for Hero’s death. Leonato tells him that his guilt is shared with Claudio, Don Pedro and Don John.

Leonato tells them to hang an epitaph at Hero’s tomb, explaining her innocence. He then tells Claudio he is forgiven and that he will give his neice to Claudio in marriage the next day. Claudio can’t believe his good fortune! He agrees to the marriage, sight unseen.

Dogberry is still upset about Conrad calling him an ass, and he tells Leonato all about it, hoping this will increase his punishment. Leonato gives Dogberry some money to thank him for his good work and to get him to leave.

The Happy Ending
Margaret teases Benedick as he tries to write a love sonnet to Beatrice. He is so besotted he stumbles over the rhymes. When Beatrice arrives she asks what happened with Claudio and Benedick says he challenged him. This changes their mood to witty banter regarding what they first loved in each other.

Ursula arrives with the breaking news that all has been set straight in Messina. Hero was falsely accused, Don Pedro and Claudio were misled, everything was the evil Don John’s doing, and he has left the city.

Claudio and Don Pedro put the epitaph on Hero’s “grave.” Claudio promises to return annually in her memory.

Everyone is glad at the happy turn of events. Benedick is relieved that he does not need to fight Claudio. Leonato tells the women that he will call for them and he wants them to come masked when he calls.

Benedick asks Leonato if he can marry Beatrice. Leonato agrees. Don Pedro and Claudio show up at Leonato’s house as planned. Leonato asks Claudio if he is still willing to marry his niece and Claudio agrees. There is much needling back and forth between Claudio and Benedick.

The women come out masked. Claudio agrees to marry the niece unseen. She then unveils herself and it is Hero! She’s not dead! They are all shocked to see Hero alive. She assures Claudio she is still a virgin. Leonato explains that Hero was only “dead” while the slander against her lived.

Benedick asks which masked woman is Beatrice. She comes forward. There is a little friction between them as they argue a bit and realize that their love was based on the tricks played by the others. However, Claudio pulls out one of Benedick’s love sonnets to Beatrice and handily, Hero has one Beatrice wrote to Benedick, and they both give in and accept their love for each other.

So, Claudio is ready to marry Hero, and Benedick is ready to marry Beatrice, and Benedick calls for the weddings to be delayed so they can dance. A messenger arrives with the news that Don John has been caught and returned to Messina. Benedick is too festive and says they will deal with him tomorrow. Now, let’s have some music!

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Abridged

April 25, 2010 at 10:23 am (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Plot Summaries, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , , , , )

Here is a summary of the plot for anyone who would like some context. I hope it will entice you to read the play; Shakespeare’s words and imagery are beautiful. This play is also very, very funny. I think the language is straightforward (not so many puns), making it easy to read. It moves along briskly and is quite short. Give it a spin!

If anyone sees any errors, let me know so I can fix them—this is just based on my casual reading of the text, so I could easily have things out of order or get the details wrong.

Without further ado, here’s… A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Prologue
Taking a pointer from the mechanicals (explained in a minute), I feel the need for a prologue here so that you don’t get too lost in the convolutions of this convoluted story. The overall gist is this: 4 teenagers are bickering. The fairy king and queen are bickering. The fairies intervene magically with the teenagers with some hilarious results. The fairy king messes with the fairy queen with some hilarious results. There’s a very silly play within the play. There’s a happy ending!

Setting the Scene
A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place in ancient Athens. Theseus, the Duke of Athens, has just won a war against the Amazons and he is set to marry Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. The play opens with Theseus telling Hippolyta how excited he is about their upcoming wedding and that he plans to make it a big celebration.

They are interrupted by Egeus who comes in to ask Theseus to help settle a problem. Theseus has promised his daughter Hermia in marriage to Demetrius. However, Hermia is in love with Lysander and wants to marry him instead. There is some smart-mouthing back and forth between Lysander and Demetrius. Lysander points out that Demetrius was recently in love with Helena and Theseus admits he had heard this rumor.

Egeus claims it is his right to do with Hermia as he wants and he wants her to marry Demetrius. Theseus agrees that this is the law and he tells Hermia she must do as her father says and marry Demetrius. If she doesn’t marry Demetrius, she must either die or become a nun. He gives her 4 days (until his wedding) to make her choice.

Lysander and Hermia are left by themselves and Lysander hatches a plan to elope with Hermia to his aunt’s house outside of Athens, where Athenian law can’t follow them. Hermia agrees to meet him in the woods outside Athens so they can run away together.

Helena joins them and she’s in a very bad mood. She is lovesick for Demetrius and extremely jealous of him now loving Hermia, her lifelong friend. Hermia tells Helena of her plan to elope with Lysander. Helena decides she will tell Demetrius about this plan so that he will follow Hermia into the woods, and Helena can then follow him into the woods.

The Rude Mechanicals
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a “play within the play” called Pyramus and Thisby (P&T). P&T is planned by a group of working men who Puck (we’ll get to him in a minute) refers to as “rude mechanicals,” meaning unsophisticated men who work with their hands. Puck also calls them “hempen homespuns,” referring to their simple clothes. In other words, these are bumpkins. Just about everything they say is ridiculous. P&T is ridiculous.

The mechanicals are: Peter Quince (a carpenter), Nick Bottom (a weaver), Francis Flute (a bellows mender), Tom Snout (a tinker), and Robin Starveling (a tailor). Bottom is the most ridiculous of these silly characters; he’s the quintessential silly ass.

These men are excited about the upcoming wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta and create a play that they hope to perform at the wedding reception. They meet quickly and Peter Quince gives out the parts. Bottom gets the lead role (Pyramus) and also wants to play most of the other parts. Quince quashes that idea and asks the men to learn their lines and meet him in the woods outside Athens so they can rehearse the play in privacy.

Fairyland
Fairyland is another dimension that mortals are usually unaware of. However, happenings in fairyland can affect mortals. Oberon and Titania (king and queen of the fairies) are quarrelling and their quarrels lead to all kinds of disruptions and natural disasters in the mortal world.

The cause of the current quarrel is a disagreement over a mortal boy who Titania adopted. Titania befriended his mother and when the mother died, Titania vowed to take care of the boy in memory of the mother. Oberon wants the boy to use as a servant. Titania refuses to give up the child and leaves abruptly.

Love Juice
Oberon is very angry and decides to play a trick on Titania. He knows of a flower whose juice serves as a love potion when sprinkled on the eyes (the next person/thing seen is the object of infatuation) and he tells his fairy jester Puck (also called Robin Goodfellow) to go find this flower and bring it to him so he can use it on Titania. He wants her to fall in love with something vile (he also knows the antidote herb to take away the spell, so this is meant to be temporary, just as a joke).

At this point, the fairy world collides with the mortal world. Helena has followed Demetrius into the woods (as he went looking in anger for the eloping Hermia and Lysander). Helena humiliates herself in her desperate attempt to get Demetrius to love her again. He ignores her and goes searching for Hermia. Oberon (invisible to the mortals) sees this and feeling sorry for Helena, decides to help her out by putting a little love juice on Demetrius’s eyes.

Puck comes back with the “love-in-idleness” flower and Oberon squeezes the juice on the sleeping Titania’s eyes. He tells Puck to go find Demetrius and do the same to him (Oberon tells Puck to look for the boy with Athenian clothes).

Puck’s Crucial Error
They’ve been wandering in the woods for a while, and it’s getting late so Lysander tries to cozy up to Hermia for the night. Hermia, being a good girl, fends him off and tells him to go find somewhere further off to sleep. Puck wanders up and seeing Lysander’s Athenian clothes, assumes he’s the one Oberon meant for the love juice. Puck sprinkles some on Lysander.

Helena and Demetrius are still running around in the woods. Demetrius is very rude to Helena and finally runs off and leaves her behind. Helena is still beside herself about Demetrius and jealous of his love for Hermia. And then… Helena stumbles on Lysander and can’t tell if he’s alive or dead, so she shakes him. Lysander wakes, sees Helena, and falls immediately in love with her due to the love juice that Puck mistakenly put on him.

Helena is confused by Lysander’s advances and assumes he’s pulling her leg. She leaves and he follows her. Hermia then wakes up from a bad dream to find herself alone in the woods. She goes off to find Lysander.

Picture all four kids wandering around in the woods all night. They’re tired. They’re confused. They’re running on hormones and love juice.

The Mechanicals Rehearse
The mechanicals meet in the woods to rehearse P&T and there is much silliness over the need for a prologue to explain to “the ladies” in their potential audience that there is no need to be upset because Bottom, who is playing Pyramus, is really Bottom the weaver, and he’s not really killing himself. And also that the lion is not really a lion and there’s no need to be afraid. Etc.

Puck sees this silliness playing out right under the sleeping Titania and while watching them he gets an idea. He sees Bottom acting like an ass (get it? Bottom?) and so when Bottom exits the “stage” for a moment during the rehearsal, Puck magically puts a donkey head on him. Bottom becomes a real ass and doesn’t realize it! He returns to the rehearsal on cue and scares all the other mechanicals. They run through the woods to get away from the monster.

Bottom decides they are trying to make an ass of him. He won’t fall for it, so he stays right there and sings a song. His song wakes the sleeping Titania, who immediately falls in love with the silly ass. Puck goes back to Oberon to report the success of the trick!

Sports Fans
Oberon asks Puck if he put the love juice on the Athenian and Puck reports that he did. However, Demetrius and Hermia wander by in the woods and it’s soon clear that Puck put the love juice on the wrong Athenian (Lysander). Oberon is angry and tells Puck to find Lysander. In the meantime, Oberon puts love juice on Demetrius. Then, Puck returns with Helena and Lysander. Puck asks Oberon if they can watch how things play out with the teenagers. “Lord, what fools these mortals be.” So, Oberon and Puck sit back to watch the sport (they are always invisible to the mortals).

Demetrius wakes up, sees Helena and falls in love. So now, both Lysander and Demetrius are crazy, head-over-heels, ready-to-die-for-her in love with Helena. She ain’t buying it. She thinks both boys are making fun of her. What’s worse, she believes Hermia, her friend, is in on the joke. She thinks they are all just being mean, mean, mean.

So, the girls argue because Helena can’t believe Hermia would be so mean. And Hermia has no idea what’s going on. She sees Lysander suddenly acting like he’s in love with Helena, so she assumes Helena came onto him and is a backstabber. Meanwhile the boys are arguing about which of them loves Helena better.

It’s been a long night and things degenerate quickly. They start ganging up on Hermia and making fun of her for being dark-haired and small (but shrewish!).  There’s much name-calling and general meanness. Demetrius and Lysander are ready to duel.

At this point, Oberon has seen enough. He wonders if Puck caused all this mayhem on purpose. Puck professes innocence, but admits he’s enjoying the outcome. He likes watching all the arguing and fighting. Oberon tells Puck to lead the boys around in the woods so that they get confused and don’t harm each other. Lysander and Demetrius chase Puck’s voice around in the dark and eventually they give up and fall asleep. The girls wander around in the woods and eventually fall asleep in the same general area. Puck squeezes the antidote herb on Lysander’s eyes so he’ll love Hermia again when he wakes up.

Titania and Oberon Reconcile
When we last saw proud Titania, beautiful queen of the fairies, she was enamored of an ass. She continues doting on the ass-headed and ridiculous Bottom, having her fairy servants bring him treats and scratch his back, etc. He is a silly ass throughout, making idiotic comments and acting like a clown. 

Oberon finally feels the joke has gone far enough. While under the influence of the love juice, Titania has given up the mortal boy who began their quarrel. So Oberon has what he wanted to begin with, and he feels like he’s gotten Titania back. Oberon gives the antidote to Titania. She awakens from a dream that she was enamored of an ass! He tells her to look down and see her love. The gross ass-headed Bottom makes her sick now. Oberon tells Puck to take the ass head off Bottom and that Bottom will remember the night as if it were a dream.

Awakenings
Morning finally comes and Theseus and Hippolyta mark the beginning of their wedding day with a hunt in the woods. Egeus is with them. They come upon the four teenagers all sleeping peacefully together. They blow the hunting horns to wake the kids up. Lysander stands up half awake and half asleep and unable to account for how they are all there together. He remembers going to the woods to elope with Hermia.

This angers Egeus that they were going against his wishes. Demetrius, also in a dreamy state, points out that it’s fine with him, because he no longer loves Hermia and doesn’t want to marry her. He loves Helena again with all his heart and wants only her.

Theseus accepts all this without blinking and tells the teenagers to follow him back to Athens and they will all get married when he marries Hippolyta later in the day. The adults ride off to Athens to prepare for the weddings.

The four teenagers are still a bit groggy and not even sure what just happened. They finally get it together and realize that Theseus told them to go to Athens to get married. They return to Athens.

Bottom wakes up from his dream and doesn’t know what to make of his memories of being doted on by the queen of the fairies and waited on by her fairy servants. He decides he will tell Peter Quince to write a song called “Bottom’s Dream” that he can perform at Theseus’s wedding. He goes back to Athens.

Pyramus and Thisby
And finally we come to the play within the play. The three Athenian couples have been married and are ready to be entertained at the party afterward. Theseus asks for a list of choices and one choice intrigues him:

A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisby; very tragical mirth.”

Tedious and brief? Tragical and merry? He needs to see this.

So, the mechanicals begin their play with the prologue to explain that what the audience is about to see is not real and no one should get upset about it and Bottom isn’t really Pyramus and Snug isn’t really a lion.

The members of the wedding party (Theseus & Hippolyta, Lysander & Hermia, Demetrius & Helena) are all in high spirits and they joke and make witty comments to each other throughout P&T. They are very amused by the whole thing.

The plot of P&T is very silly. The lovers Pyramus and Thisby are separated by a wall (played literally by Snout) and have to talk to each other through a hole in the wall (which Snout makes with his fingers). They agree to meet each other at a nearby tomb (Ninus’s tomb, which everyone mispronounces as Ninny’s tomb). The scene changes to the moonlit tomb (the moon played by Robin Starveling with a lantern). Thisby gets there first, is frightened away by a lion (played by Snug), and drops her scarf. The lion picks up the scarf and shreds it. Pyramus gets there, sees the shredded scarf, thinks Thisby has been eaten by the lion, and melodramatically stabs himself. Thisby comes back, sees the dead Pyramus, and stabs herself.

And farewell, friends.
Thus Thisby ends.
Adieu, adieu, adieu.

There is no way to get the full idea of how silly this is from reading it, so if you have a few minutes, watch this video of Pyramus and Thisby performed by The Beatles! Paul McCartney is Pyramus, John Lennon is Thisby, Ringo Starr is the lion, and George Harrison plays moonshine. Enjoy!

Fairy Time
As P&T comes mercifully to an end, Theseus sees that it is nearly midnight and almost fairy time so he wishes everyone a good night and they head off to bed. Oberon comes out and instructs the fairies to bless all the newly-married couples and bring them happiness and healthy children. Puck ends the play on the stage by himself asking the audience forgiveness if the play has offended anyone, wishing everyone a goodnight, and asking for their applause.

So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

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Romeo and Juliet, Abridged

March 3, 2010 at 11:22 pm (Plot Summaries, Romeo and Juliet) (, , , , )

Since I hope I’m reaching new readers as well as people familiar with Shakespeare, I plan to post a summary of each play as I read it. This will give people some context if they want to follow along, and I hope will entice them to read the play themselves. It also helps me think about the play. And if anyone sees any errors, let me know so I can fix them—this is just based on my casual reading of the text, so I could easily have things out of order or get the details wrong.

Without further ado, here’s… Romeo and Juliet!

Setting the Scene
The Capulet family hates the Montague family, and vice versa. The antagonism goes way back and has resulted in a number of street fights. So Romeo and Juliet begins–on the streets of fair Verona, the Capulet servants pick a fight with Montague servants (biting their thumbs at each other, which apparently is like flipping someone the bird and very offensive). Sword fights ensue and the Prince arrives to break it up and send everyone on their way with a stern warning.

Romeo (a Montague) misses the action because he’s off pining for Rosaline, who won’t give him the time of day. Romeo’s cousin Benvolio chit chats with him a bit and they’re joined by their friend Mercutio, who is a bit of a smart mouth… very funny and witty and always needling people or telling a joke.

While they’re chatting, a servant from the Capulet’s comes up and asks if they can read, because he has a guest list for a big party at the Capulet’s and he’s supposed to deliver the invitations, but he can’t read. Romeo reads through the list and sees Rosaline is invited. The boys all decide they will need to crash this party. The servant, not knowing they’re Montagues, tells them they’re welcome, the more the merrier.

Meanwhile, at the Capulet’s house, Paris stops by to ask for Juliet’s hand in marriage. She’s not yet 14, and her father isn’t eager to marry her off yet. He tells Paris to come to the party and woo Juliet or see if he likes someone else better.

The Capulet Feast
Romeo and the boys get to the party and immediately Romeo is star struck by the beautiful Juliet. They play footsie (actually handsie) and share a couple kisses during the party. Rosaline is forgotten.

Juliet’s cousin Tybalt recognizes Romeo and is really pissed off that he had the gall to crash the party. Capulet warns Tybalt not to raise a fuss and ruin the party and to just ignore Romeo and leave him be, because he’s a nice boy and not causing any trouble (no one saw Romeo and Juliet kissing!). Tybalt simmers.

As the party ends, Romeo learns that Juliet is Capulet’s only daughter, and Juliet learns that Romeo is Montague’s only son. Oh no! Bad news for the young lovers. They each just fell in love with the one person on Earth who they shouldn’t love.

The Balcony Scene
The party is over and Romeo gives his buddies the slip so that he can go stare at Juliet’s house and pine for her. And amazingly, Juliet appears at the window and she’s talking to herself. He gets closer so he can hear her, and she says his name! This is the famous “Wherefore art thou Romeo” speech—wherefore means “why” and she means “Why are you Romeo?” or really “Why on Earth did I fall in love with a Montague… the only person I really shouldn’t fall in love with?”

Romeo calls out to her and they have an intimate conversation on the balcony, with both ultimately professing their love. Things move quickly and Juliet asks Romeo to send a message to her the next day with the time and place where they can be married.

Marriage
Romeo sets up the quickie wedding with Friar Laurence the next morning. Friar Laurence is baffled about how Romeo could go from pining away for Rosaline yesterday to marrying Juliet today. But, he agrees to marry them because he thinks it might help settle the feud between the families.

Juliet’s nurse shows up in town to get the wedding time and place from Romeo. Mercutio is very crudely rude to her. Romeo tells the Nurse that Juliet should go to Friar Laurence’s cell and he will marry them.

Juliet goes there, and they marry. Juliet goes home while Romeo goes back to town.

Mayhem on the Streets of Verona
Meanwhile, in town, it’s a steamy day, and Mercutio is hot and bothered. Tybalt comes out and has a bone to pick with him since he saw Mercutio at the Capulet party with Romeo. There is much witty back and forth, and then the swords are drawn and they start fighting. Romeo tries to break up the fight. While Romeo is between them, Tybalt stabs Mercutio by mistake. Tybalt runs off. Mercutio dies, much to the astonishment of everyone there, who thought he was just telling more of his jokes when he said things like “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”

Romeo is crazy upset and goes to find Tybalt, gets in a fight with him, and kills Tybalt. He wakes up from his craziness and can’t believe he just killed his love’s cousin. He’s beside himself.

The Prince shows up again, angrier than ever, and banishes Romeo from Verona. He says if Romeo ever shows up in town again, he’ll be put to death.

One Blissful Night
Juliet gets the news that Romeo killed her cousin just hours after their marriage, and she can’t believe it. She is so hurt and upset that Romeo is banished and that she’ll never see her husband. Her Nurse tells her not to be so upset because she knows where Romeo is hiding (at Friar Laurence’s cell) and she’ll go get him and bring him to her.

The Nurse does this, and Romeo and Juliet get their one night of wedded bliss. Then the morning is there before they know it and Romeo is off to his exile in Mantua. They hope to be reunited some day, but have no idea how it can happen.

The Plot Thickens
Meanwhile, Juliet’s father, thinking she is so upset because of Tybalt’s death, decides the best thing to do to cheer her up would be to marry her off to Paris ASAP. So he sets that all up and has Lady Capulet give Juliet the news. Both parents are really angry when Juliet doesn’t go along with the program. Capulet basically tells her she’s a spoiled brat and that he’ll disown her if she doesn’t marry Paris.

Juliet cries to her Nurse and asks what can be done, and to her surprise, the Nurse tells her to just go ahead and marry Paris since he’s such a fine man, and Romeo’s gone, gone, gone. Juliet cannot believe her trusted Nurse could say this. She runs off to the friar to get his advice.

Juliet runs into Paris at Friar Laurence’s cell. He’s all kissy-happy about the upcoming wedding and thinks it’s great that Juliet is there for confession. What a good future wife.

Sleeping Potion
When Paris leaves, Juliet asks Friar Laurence to help her die to avoid marrying Paris. The friar has a sudden idea: he gives Juliet a sleeping potion made from herbs. The potion will make her seem dead for 42 hours–enough time to avoid the marriage to Paris. In the meantime, the friar tells her he will send a message to Romeo in Mantua, letting him know what’s going on and to meet at the Capulet family grave (a building or vault) in time to be with Juliet when she wakes up. Then he’ll help them escape together and live happily ever after. Juliet loves the plan and takes the potion with her back to her home.

She tells her dad that she’s all set for the wedding to Paris. Capulet is so happy that he moves the wedding up to the very next morning and starts making plans for the wedding party. Juliet goes to bed and takes the sleeping potion.

The nurse finds her “dead” the next morning and they have a funeral and lay her near Tybalt in the family vault.

Miscommunication
Romeo’s servant Balthasar sees the “dead” Juliet and rides off to Mantua to tell Romeo the sad news. Romeo can’t believe it. He goes to see a pharmacist and asks for strong poison, and then he rides off to Verona to see Juliet in the vault and poison himself.

Meanwhile, Friar John stops by and tells Friar Laurence that he never delivered the message to Romeo. He was around someone that might have had the plague and was quarantined and not allowed to leave Verona, so the message never went to Mantua. Friar Laurence realizes this means Romeo knows nothing about the sleeping potion and the escape plan. He is very worried and runs off to the Capulet vault.

Death at the Capulet Vault
When Romeo gets to the Capulet vault, he finds Paris there strewing flowers around and feeling sad about his lost love. Paris believes Juliet died from sadness over Tybalt’s death. Paris sees Romeo at the vault and recognizes him as Tybalt’s murderer. He’s angry and draws his sword. Romeo fights in self defense and kills Paris. Romeo runs into the vault, sees Juliet’s body, takes his poison and dies while kissing her one last time.

Friar Laurence gets to the vault, finds Paris’s body, then goes in and sees Romeo’s body and Juliet starting to wake up. He tells Juliet to come with him quickly because the night watch (like police) are coming and they can’t be found there. He runs away, but Juliet won’t leave. She sees that Romeo left no poison for her to take. She hears the watch coming, so she wastes no time, takes Romeo’s dagger and stabs herself. She dies.

The watch gets there and finds the bodies of Paris, Romeo, and the bleeding, newly-dead body of Juliet, who had been in the tomb for two days. In this confusion, they start looking around for suspects to question. They find the friar and he explains all. Balthasar corroborates and has a suicide note Romeo left for his father, which further explains the situation with the secret marriage of Romeo and Juliet.

The Prince is very angry and sad that the hatred between the Capulets and Montagues has led two young lovers to such extremes and has left so much death in its wake. Capulet and Montague agree to end their feud. Montague promises to raise a golden statue of Juliet in Verona. Not to be outdone, Capulet says he will have a statue of Romeo made to set beside her. The prince tells them to go discuss the details. And that ends the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet.

Of course, Shakespeare had a nicer way of putting it (everything), so I’ll end it with his own words:

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

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