The Play

Act 5


Balthasar, a friend of Romeo’s, brings him news that Juliet is dead and lies in the Capulet tomb. Resolved to find her and join her in death, Romeo first visits an apothecary and bribes him to obtain an illegal (and lethal) poison.

Trigger warning: Act 5 contains material discussing and portraying suicide.

A market street in Mantua:



If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep


My dreams presage° some joyful news at hand.

My bosom’s lord[1] sits lightly in his throne:

And all this day an unaccustomed spirit

5Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.

I dreamt my lady came and found me dead—

Strange dream that gives a dead man leave to think—

And breathed such life with kisses in my lips,

That I revived and was an Emperor.

10Ah me, how sweet is love itself possessed,[2]


When but love’s shadows° are so rich in joy!


News from Verona! How now, Balthasar?

Dost thou not bring me letters from the Friar?

How doth my lady? Is my father well?

15How doth my lady Juliet? That I ask again,

If she is well, then nothing can be ill.


Then nothing can be ill, for she is well!

Her body sleeps in Capel’s monument,

And her immortal part with angels lives.

20I saw her laid low in her kindred’s vault,

And presently took post to tell it you.

O, pardon me for bringing this ill news,


Since you did leave it for my office°, sir.


Is it even so? Then I deny you, stars!

25Thou knowest my lodging. Get me ink and paper,

And hire post horses.[3] I will hence tonight.


I do beseech you sir, have patience.


Your looks are pale and wild,[4] and do import°

accident, or failed attempt

Some misadventure°.


30Tush, thou art deceived!

Leave me, and do the thing I bid thee do!

Hast thou no letters to me from the Friar?


No, my good lord.


No matter; get thee gone.

35And hire those horses. I’ll be with thee straight.


Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.

Let’s see for means.[5] O mischief, thou art swift

To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!

I do remember an apothecary—

40And hereabouts he dwells—which late I noted


In tattered cloths with overwhelming brows,


Culling of simples°. Meager were his looks.

Sharp misery had worn him to the bones.

And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,

45An alligator stuffed, and other skins

Of ill-shaped fishes. And about his shelves,


A beggarly° amount of empty boxes,

Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,

Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses

50Were thinly scattered to make up a show.

extreme poverty

Noting this penury°, to myself I said,

“An if a man did need a poison now—

Whose sale is present death in Mantua—

miserable; vile

Here lives a caitiff° wretch would sell it him.”

55O, this same thought did but forerun my need,

And this same needy man must sell it me.

As I remember, this should be the house.

Being holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut.—

What ho, apothecary?”



60Who calls so loud?


Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor.

gold coins

Hold, there is forty ducats°. Let me have

small drink

A dram° of poison, such soon-speeding stuff

As will disperse itself through all the veins

65That life-weary taker may fall dead,


And that the trunk° may be discharged of breath

As violently as hasty powder fired

Doth hurry from the fatal cannon’s womb.


Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law

70Is death to any he that utters them!


Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness

And fearest to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,

Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,

Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back!

75The world is not thy friend, nor the world’s law.

The world affords no law to make thee rich.

Then be not poor, but break it and take this.


My poverty, but not my will, consents.


I pray thy poverty and not thy will.[6]

APOTHECARY gives him the poison


80Put this in any liquid thing you will

And drink it off, and if you had the strength

Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.


There is thy gold: worse poison to men’s souls,

Doing more murder in this loathsome world

85Than those poor compounds that thou must not sell.

I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none.

Farewell, buy food, and get thyself in flesh.[7]


medicinal drink

Come, cordial° and not poison, go with me

To Juliet’s grave, for there must I use thee.





Friar John returns to Friar Lawrence, informing him that his letter could not be delivered to Romeo due to an outbreak of sickness. Aware that Juliet will soon awake, Friar Lawrence heads to the Capulet tomb to retrieve Juliet and keep her safe until Romeo can return.

Friar Lawrence’s cell in Verona:



Holy Franciscan Friar, brother, ho?



This same should be the voice of Friar John.

Welcome from Mantua!  What says Romeo?

Or if his mind be writ, give me his letter.


another friar

5I went to find a barefoot brother° out,

One of our order, to accompany me,

Who was in this city visiting the sick,

And, finding him, the searchers of the town

Suspected that we both were in a house

10Where the infectious pestilence did reign,

Sealed up the doors and would not let us forth,[8]

So that my speed to Mantua there was stayed.


Who bare my letter then to Romeo?!


I could not send it—here it is again—

15Nor get a messenger to bring it thee,

So fearful were they of infection.


Unhappy fortune!  By my Brotherhood,

The letter was not nice but full of charge[9]

Of dear import, and the neglecting it

20May do much danger.  Friar John, go hence,

Get me an iron crow[10] and bring it straight

Unto my cell!


Brother, I’ll go and bring it thee!



Capulet family tomb

Now must I to the Monument° alone.

25Within this three hours will fair Juliet wake.

She will beshrew me much that Romeo

Hath had no notice of these accidents.

But I will write again to Mantua

And keep her at my cell ‘til Romeo come.

30Poor living corpse, closed in a dead man’s Tomb.





Paris mourns at the Capulet tomb, but hides when he hears someone (Romeo) approaching. As he reaches the tomb, Romeo commands Balthasar to leave; Balthasar leaves but decides to linger secretly. Paris confronts Romeo as he attempts to open the tomb. They fight, and Romeo kills Paris. Romeo enters the tomb and lays Paris inside it. Approaching Juliet, Romeo grieves for her death and the luster of her still-lively beauty. He drinks the poison and dies. Friar Lawrence arrives and witnesses the scene as Juliet wakes, offering to hide her away among a convent of nuns. She refuses. Hearing guards approaching, Juliet kills herself with Romeo’s dagger. The Prince, the Capulets, and the Montagues are summoned by the guards. Friar Lawrence summarizes the events leading to this point and is corroborated by Balthasar and Romeo’s letter to his father. In remorse, lords Capulet and Montague make peace.

The Churchyard, outside the Capulet Tomb, later moving within the tomb:

Enter PARIS and his PAGE


at a distance

Give me thy torch, boy. Hence, and stand aloof°.

Yet put it out, for I would not be seen.

Under those young trees, lay thee all along,[11]

Holding thy ear close to the hollow ground.

5So shall no foot upon the churchyard tread,

Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves,

But thou shalt hear it. Whistle then to me

As signal that thou hearest something approach.

Give me those flowers. Do as I bid thee; go!


10I am almost afraid to stand alone

Here in the churchyard, yet I will adventure.


Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew—

O woe, thy canopy is dust and stones!

Which with sweet water nightly I will dew,

15Or, lacking that, with tears distilled by moans.

The obsequies that I for thee will keep,[12]

Nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep.

The PAGE whistles

The boy gives warning; something doth approach.

What cursed foot wanders this way tonight,

20To cross my obsequies and true love’s right?

What, with a torch?  Muffle me, night, a while.




Give me the mattock° and the wrenching iron°.

And take this letter early in the morning.

See thou deliver it to my lord and father.

25Give me the light. Upon thy life I charge thee,

Whatever thou hearest or seest, stand all aloof,

And do not interrupt me in my course.

Why I descend into this bed of death

Is partly to behold my lady’s face,

30But chiefly to take thence from her dead finger

A precious ring, a ring that I must use,

In dear employment;[13] therefore hence, be gone.


But if thou, jealous°, dost return to pry,

In what I farther shall intend to do,

35By heaven, I will tear thee joint by joint,

And strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs.

The time and my intents are savage, wild,

More fierce and more inexorable far

Than empty tigers, or the roaring sea!


40I will be gone, sir, and not trouble ye.


In this thou shows me friendship. [hands BALTHASAR money] Take thou that.

Live and be prosperous, and farewell, good fellow!



For all this same, I’ll hide me hereabout.

His looks I fear, and his intents I doubt.



45Thou detestable maw°, thou womb of death,

Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth,

Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,


And in despite°, I’ll cram thee with more food!



[To himself] This is that banished haughty° Montague

50That murdered my love’s cousin, with which grief

It is supposed the fair creature died,

And here is come to do some villainous shame

To the dead bodies. I will apprehend him.

[To ROMEO] Stop thy unhallowed toil, vile Montague!

55Can vengeance be pursued further than death?

Condemned villain, I do apprehend thee!

Obey and go with me, for thou must die!


I must indeed, and therefore I came hither.

Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man,

60Fly hence and leave me. Think upon these gone;

Let them affright thee. I beseech thee, youth,

Put not another sin upon my head

By urging me to fury. [14] O, begone!

By heaven, I love thee better than myself,

65For I come hither armed against myself.

Stay not: be gone, live, and hereafter say,

A madman’s mercy bid thee run away.


I do defy thy commiseration,

And apprehend thee for a felon here.


70Wilt thou provoke me?  Then have at thee, boy!

ROMEO and PARIS fight


O Lord, they fight!  I will go call the Watch.



O, I am slain!  If thou be merciful,

Open the tomb; lay me with Juliet.

PARIS dies



In faith, I will. Let me peruse° this face.

75Mercutio’s kinsman, noble County Paris!

What said my man, when my betossèd soul

Did not attend him as we rode?  I think

He told me Paris should have married Juliet.

Said he not so?  Or did I dream it so?

80Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,

To think it was so?  O, give me thy hand,

One writ with me in sour misfortune’s book!

I’ll bury thee in a triumphant grave.

A grave? O, no. A lantern, slaughtered youth,

85For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes

This vault a feasting presence full of light!

ROMEO arranges PARIS in the Capulet tomb

Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interred.

How oft when men are at the point of death

Have they felt merry, which their keepers call

90A lightning before death. O, how may I

Call this a lightning? O my love! My wife!

Death that has sucked the honey of thy breath

Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.


Thou art not conquered. Beauty’s ensign° yet

95Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,

And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.

Tybalt, lie you there in that bloody sheet?

O, what more favor can I do to thee

in half

Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain°

cut off

100To sunder° his that was thine enemy?

Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet,

Why are thou yet so fair? I will believe—

Shall I believe—that unsubstantial Death is amorous,[15]

And that the lean abhorrèd monster[16] keeps


105Thee here in dark to be his paramour°?

For fear of that I still will stay with thee,

And never from this palace of dim night

Depart again, here, here will I remain

With worms that are thy chambermaids.[17] O, here

110Will I set up my everlasting rest,

And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars

From this world-wearied flesh.  Eyes, look your last.

Arms, take your last embrace!  And lips, O, you

The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss

115A dateless bargain to engrossing death!

He kisses JULIET

Come, bitter conduct!  Come, unsavory guide!

Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on

The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark!


Here’s to my love! O true° apothecary,

120Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss, I die.

ROMEO drinks the poison and dies

Enter FRIAR LAWRENCE with a lantern, crowbar and a spade


Saint Francis[18] be my speed! How oft tonight

Have my old feet tripped on gravestones.—Who’s there?


Here’s one, a friend, and one that knows you well.


Bliss be upon you!  Tell me, good my friend,

125What torch is yond that vainly lends his light

To grubs and eyeless skulls?  As I discern,

It burns in the Capulets’ monument.


It does so, holy sir,

And there’s my master, one that you love.


130Who is it?




How long hath he been there?


Full half an hour.


Go with me to the vault.


135I dare not, sir.

My master knows not but I am gone hence,

And fearfully did menace me with death,

If I did stay to look on his intents.


Stay then, I’ll go alone.  Fear comes upon me.


140O, much I fear some ill unthrifty° thing.


As I did sleep under this young tree here,

I dreamt my master and another fought

And that my master slew him.




145Alas! Alas!  What blood is this which stains

burial place

The stony entrance of this sepulcher°?

What mean these masterless and gory swords

To lie discolored by this place of peace?

Romeo! O, pale. Who else? What, Paris too?

150And steeped in blood? Ah, what an unkind hour

Is guilty of this lamentable chance?

The lady stirs.


O comfortable Friar! Where is my lord?

I do remember well where I should be.

155And there I am. Where is my Romeo?


I hear some noise.—Lady, come from that nest

Of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep.

A greater power than we can contradict

Hath thwarted our intents. Come, come away,

160Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead,

And Paris too. Come, I’ll dispose of thee

Among a sisterhood of holy nuns.

Stay not to question, for the Watch is coming.

Come, go, good Juliet. I dare no longer stay.



165Go get thee hence, for I will not away.

What’s here? A cup closed in my true love’s hand?

Poison I see has been his timeless end!

selfish person

O churl°! Drank all and left no friendly drop

To help me after? I will kiss thy lips.

170Happ’ly some poison yet doth hang on them,

To make me die with a restorative.

She kisses ROMEO

Thy lips are warm!

Enter PAGE and WATCH


Lead, boy! Which way?


Yea, noise?  Then I’ll be brief.  O happy dagger,

175This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die.

JULIET stabs herself and dies


This is the place, there where the torch doth burn.


The ground is bloody!  Search about the churchyard.

Go, some of you; whoe’er you find, arrest.

Pitiful sight!  Here lies the County slain,

180And Juliet bleeding, warm, and newly dead,

Who here hath lain these two days burièd.

Go tell the Prince. Run to the Capulets.

Raise up the Montagues. Some others search.

We see the ground whereon these woes do lie,

185But the true ground of all these piteous woes


We cannot without circumstance descry°.

Enter 2nd WATCHMAN escorting BALTHASAR


Here’s Romeo’s man; we found him in the churchyard.


Hold him in safety ‘til the Prince comes hither.



Here is a Friar that trembles, sighs, and weeps.

190We took this mattock and spade from him

As he was coming from this churchyard’s side.


A great suspicion! Stay the Friar too.



What misadventure is so early up

That calls our person from our morning rest?



195What could it be that they so shrieked abroad?


O, the people in the street cry “Romeo,”

Some “Juliet,” and some “Paris,” and all run

With open outcry toward our monument.


What fear is this which startles in our ears?


200Sovereign, here lies the County Paris slain,

And Romeo dead, and Juliet, dead before,

Warm and new killed.


Search, seek, and know how this foul murder comes.


Here is a Friar, and slaughtered Romeo’s man,

205With instruments upon them fit to open

These dead men’s tombs.



O heavens!  O wife, look how our daughter bleeds!

This dagger hath mista’en, for lo, his house[19]

Is empty on the back of Montague

210And is mis-sheathed in my daughter’s bosom.


O me, this sight of death is as a bell

That warns my old age to a sepulcher.[20]



Come, Montague, for thou art early up

To see thy son and heir, now early down.


215Alas, my liege, my wife is dead tonight!

Grief of my son’s exile hath stopped her breath.[21]

What further woe conspires against mine age?


Look and thou shalt see.



[To ROMEO] Oh, thou untaught°! What manners is this


220To press° before thy father to a grave?


Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while,

‘Til we can clear these ambiguities


And know their spring°, their head, their true descent;

And then will I be general of your woes

225And lead you even to death.[22] Meantime, forebear,

And let mischance be slave to patience.[23]

Bring forth the parties of suspicion.


I am the greatest, able to do least,

Yet most suspected as the time and place

230Doth make[24] against me of this direful murder.

And here I stand, both to impeach and purge,

Myself condemned and myself excused.


Then say at once what thou dost know in this!


I will be brief, for my short date of breath

235Is not so long as is this tedious tale.

Romeo there, dead, was husband to that Juliet,

And she, there dead, that’s Romeo’s faithful wife.

I married them, and their stol’n marriage day

Was Tybalt’s doomsday, whose untimely death

240Banished the new-made bridegroom from this city,

For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined.[25]

You, to remove that siege of grief from her

by force

Betrothed and would have married her perforce°

To County Paris.  Then comes she to me,

245And with wild looks bid me devise some means

To rid her from this second marriage,

Or in my cell there would she kill herself.

Then gave I her, so tutored by my art,

A sleeping potion, which so took effect,

250As I intended, for it wrought on her

The form of death. Meantime I wrote to Romeo

That he should hither come as this dire night

To help to take her from the borrowed grave

Being the time the potion’s force should cease.

255But he which bore my letter, Friar John,

Was stayed by accident, and yesternight

Returned my letter back. Then all alone

At the prefixed hour of her waking

Came I to take her from her kindred’s vault,

260Meaning to keep her closely at my cell,

‘Til I conveniently could send to Romeo.

But when I came some minute ere the time

Of her awakening, here untimely lay

The noble Paris, and true Romeo, dead.

265She wakes, and I entreated her come forth

And bear this work of heaven[26] with patience.

But then a noise did scare me from the tomb,

And she, too desperate, would not go with me

But as it seems, did violence on herself.

270All this I know, and to the marriage her Nurse is privy.

And if aught in this miscarried by my fault,[27]

Let my old life be sacrificed some hour before his time

Unto the rigor of severest law.


We still have known thee for a holy man.

275Where’s Romeo’s man? What can he say to this?


I brought my master news of Juliet’s death,

by horseback

And then in post° he came from Mantua,

To this same place, to this same monument.

This letter he early bid me give his father,

280And threatened me with death, going in the vault,

If I departed not, and left him there.


Give me the letter; I will look on it.

Where is the County’s page that raised the Watch?

Sirrah, what made your master[28] in this place?


285He came with flowers to strew his lady’s grave,

And bid me stand aloof, and so I did.

Anon comes one with light to open the tomb,

And, by and by, my master drew on him,

And then I ran away to call the Watch.


290[reading letter] This letter doth make good the Friar’s words.

Their course of love, the tidings of her death;

And here he writes that he did buy a poison

Of a poor apothecary, and there with it

Came to this vault to die and lie with Juliet.

295Where be these enemies? Capulet? Montague?

See what a scourge is laid upon your hate

That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!

And I, for winking at your discords,[29] too

Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.


300O brother Montague, give me thy hand.


This is my daughter’s jointure°, for no more

Can I demand.


But I can give thee more,

For I will raise her statue in pure gold

305That whiles Verona by that name is known,[30]


There shall be no figure at such rate be set°

As that of true and faithful Juliet.


As rich shall Romeo’s[31] by his lady’s lie,

Poor sacrifices for our enmity.


310A glooming peace this morning with it brings.

The sun for sorrow shall not show his head.

Go hence to have more talk of these sad things.

Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.

For never was a story of more woe

315Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

Exit all

  1. My bosom’s lord: my heart
  2. love itself possessed: i.e., love in real life
  3. post horses: horses for rent, which were kept at inns
  4. Your looks are pale and wild: Balthasar acknowledges the mania in Romeo's actions
  5. Let’s see for means: i.e., how can I do this?
  6. I pray thy...thy will: He will pay for the poison because the Friar is poor, not because he wills it.
  7. get thyself in flesh: meaning, “get some meat on your bones”
  8. “Here in…let us forth”: he was quarantined because the searchers suspected him of having the plague
  9. not nice but full of charge: not trivial, but full of important instructions
  10. iron crow: an iron rod used as a lever
  11. all along: flat
  12. The obsequies that I for thee will keep: i.e., the funeral rites that I will perform for you
  13. In dear employment: i.e., for important reasons
  14. Put not another sin upon my head: Do not make me kill again.
  15. unsubstantial Death is amorous: i.e., death is in love with Juliet
  16. lean abhorrèd monster: i.e. Death characterized as thin and detestable.
  17. With worms that are thy chambermaids: i.e. Worms are characterized as servants to Juliet, tending to her grave.
  18. Saint Francis: the patron saint of Italy
  19. his house: the dagger’s sheath
  20. That warns my old age to a sepulcher: i.e., makes her feel old
  21. Grief of my son's exile hath stopped her breath: i.e., Montague's wife died due to the emotional weight of losing her son.
  22. And lead you even to death: i.e., be your leader in grief
  23. let mischance be slave to patience: i.e., let patience guide your misfortune
  24. make: give evidence
  25. For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined: i.e., Friar implies Juliet only care about Romeo and cares nothing for Tybalt.
  26. this work of heaven: i.e., this tragedy
  27. if aught in this miscarried by my fault: i.e., if anything in this was my fault
  28. what made your master: i.e., what was he doing?
  29. winking at your discords: looking the other way
  30. whiles Verona by that name is known: while Verona is called Verona
  31. Romeo’s: meaning Romeo’s statue


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Romeo and Juliet Copyright © 2021 by Rebecca Olson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.