The story revolves around three families from Verona. The Ruling House, the House of Capulet from where Juliet hails and that of Montague, the male protagonist's family. The story commences with a street brawl fired by the feud between the Montague and Capulet families. When the Prince of Verona announces that any further feud would result in punishment, Count Paris of the ruling house expresses his desire to marry Juliet, from the House of Capulet, who is only thirteen.
Meanwhile, after the brawl, Benvolio learns about Romeo's lost-love Rosaline, one of Lord Capulet's nieces. The estranged meeting between Romeo and Juliet takes place at the ball arranged for Count Paris to meet Juliet. Romeo meets and falls head-over-heels in love with Juliet. Romeo discloses his identity to her on being 'encouraged in love'. They seek the support of Friar Laurence, who longs for a reconciliation between the two families and are secretly married. Tybalt, Juliet's cousin challenges Romeo to a duel on discovering that he had sneaked into the ball. However, because of Juliet, Romeo refuses to fight him and calls on the ire of Mercutio, who accepts the duel instead of Romeo.
When Mercutio is wounded in the duel, Romeo slays Tybalt and is exiled for the latter's death. Juliet's grief is worsened when Lord Capulet makes plans for her wedding with Count Paris. She seeks help from Friar Laurence. The plan they come up with is that Juliet would consume a drug that would take her into a coma for nearly two days. Romeo was to be informed of the plan via a messenger, who doesn't reach him in time. On the eve of her marriage to Count Paris, Juliet takes the drug and is declared dead.
Romeo hears about her 'death' and buys poison before visiting the family crypt. Fate has other plans as Paris encounters Romeo and is killed by the latter. Believing that his lady love is dead, Romeo drinks the poison. When Juliet awakes to discover Romeo's corpse, she stabs herself. The families meet at the tomb and hear the story of the lovers from the friar. They reconcile and the violent feud is declared over.
The exact date when William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet remains unknown. Though there is mention about an 'earthquake 11 years ago', the dialogue highlights the earthquake in England in 1580. Hence, the popular belief is that the play was written in 1591. The dramatic techniques, paradigm shifts from hope to despair and then again rejuvenated hope adds emotion to the verse and strain of thought in prologue.