Romeo and Juliet | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 4, Scene 3

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides in-depth summary and analysis of Act 4, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet | Act 4, Scene 3 | Summary



Once her parents are gone, Juliet asks the nurse to leave as well so she can pray. When her mother returns, Juliet sends her away too. Juliet then speaks her terrible fears aloud while she holds the vial of poison. She wonders if the friar hasn't given her poison to protect himself from having his role in her secret marriage discovered, but then she dismisses the idea. She imagines waking and suffocating in the foul air of the tomb or being overcome with madness and committing a violent suicide. When she envisions Tybalt's "ghost/Seeking out Romeo," she is moved to swallow the contents of the vial. In this way she will either join Tybalt in death (if the potion is poison) or be reunited with Romeo as planned.


Juliet seeks solitude, as she is on the brink of an extraordinary rebellion from all things Capulet. Her fears show her doubts about the friar but also her insecurity about her ability to handle the new life that may greet her when she wakes up. Ultimately she chooses the unknown over the known—marrying a man she does not love (Paris).

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