Character Analysis of Romeo and Juliet

Getting familiar with the characters in Romeo and Juliet will help you in your exams and your understanding of Shakespeare. This includes the understanding of each character’s traits, motivations and development throughout the play. It will equip you with the ability to construct well-rounded answers.

The characters we’ll look at are:

  • Romeo
  • Juliet
  • Friar Lawrence
  • Mercutio
  • Nurse
  • Tybalt
  • Benvolio


Romeo Montague is one of the young central characters in “Romeo and Juliet”, and the son of Lord Montague and Lady Montague.

He starts the play as a lovesick teenager, trapped by his infatuation for Rosaline. A notable characteristic of Romeo is that he is not interested in the family feud, as his mind is predominantly in the realm of love. However, his naive perception of love undergoes a profound transformation when he meets Juliet at the Capulet masquerade ball. That moment marks his transition from a hopeless romantic to a passionate lover:

His initial love for Rosaline pales in comparison to the poetic love he develops for Juliet, which he articulates in lines such as:

“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright.
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear.

There is a change in his language, it is richer, deeper and more original. This signifies the authenticity and depth of his newfound love, which is very different from his initial infatuation.

Romeo’s personality is romantic, impulsive and intense. These are traits that dictate his actions throughout the play. He navigates the turbulent waters of love with reckless abandon, willing to abandon everything, including his family and moral standings, just to be with Juliet.

His undying passion leads him to exclaim, “I defy you, stars!“, which is a bold declaration of his readiness to challenge fate for Juliet’s sake.

However, his intensity, paired with his youthful impulsivity, is what sows the seeds of his tragic death. Therefore, Romeo’s character arc serves as a reminder of the double-edged sword that is passionate love. It is capable of igniting the brightest flame and causing deep despair.


Juliet Capulet is one of the young central characters, and the daughter of Lord Capulet and Lady Capulet. At the start of the play, she is an obedient and dutiful daughter who follows the expectations her family has set for her future. Not yet fourteen, she is depicted as somewhat naive about the complexities of love. This is a fact echoed by Lady Capulet’s remark:

“My child is yet a stranger in the world, she hath not seen the charge of fourteen years…”

This line not only serves to remind the audience of Juliet’s age, but also her immaturity. This innocence makes her rapid transition into passionate love with Romeo somewhat shocking, given her initial lack of experience.

Her first encounter with Romeo ignites a spark within her that fuels a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. She starts to challenge the rigid societal norms that have governed Verona for centuries and follow her heart. She shows bravery by trusting Romeo and disobeying her parents. It is through her love for Romeo that she finds not only romance but also her own voice and agency.

Her transformation reaches a peak in her decision to forge a path with Romeo at any cost, highlighted in her determined words:

“will kiss thy lips.
Haply some poison yet doth hang on them
To make me die with a restorative.”

These words are evidence of her transition from innocence to an understanding of love and sacrifice. She is strong in her determination to put an end to her life without her true love. Her final act of taking her own life is not just a tragic end but also a bold assertion of her newfound autonomy and strength.

Friar Lawrence

Friar Lawrence is often viewed as the voice of wisdom and guidance in the chaotic world of “Romeo and Juliet”. He also possesses a deep understanding of the natural world, often using plants as metaphors for life’s dualities, as evidenced in lines, such as:

Within the infant rind of this weak flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power.

He is talking about a young, delicate flower which has yet to fully develop and mature. Despite seeming frail, it harbours both “poison” and “medicine power”, indicating that it can both heal and harm.

Throughout the narrative, Friar emerges as a confidant and mentor to Romeo and Juliet. He plays a pivotal role in their lives, hoping that their marriage will bring an end to the long-standing feud between the Montagues and Capulets. This sentiment is echoed in his optimistic words:

“For this alliance may so happy prove
To turn your households’ rancor to pure love.

However, he is also scheming and secretive, which is a flawed aspect of his character. Friar marries Romeo and Juliet in secret and makes the unwise plan for Juliet to drink the potion, while failing to send the message to Romeo. Although he is well-intentioned, his actions lead to the tragic ending.


Mercutio is Romeo’s loyal and quick-witted friend. He is funny and mischievous, embodying the spirit of youth and carefree living. This is a contrast to the intense and dramatic love affair that unfolds between the central characters. Mercutio often uses his humour to highlight the absurdities of society; For example, when describing Tybalt as “More than Prince of Cats. Oh, he’s the courageous captain of compliments

Mercutio’s sceptical stance on love and fate separates him from the other characters. He offers a negative, but also realistic perspective on the world they live in.

Mercutio’s death is a turning point in the play, transitioning from more light-hearted and comedic to a tragic tale. When Mercutio is dying, he blames people (the Capulets and Montagues), and not fate for his death:

“A plague o’ both your houses.
They have made worms’ meat of me.”

This serves not only as a curse but also as a critique of the futile family feud. Mercutio’s words serve as a warning for the fatal consequences that await Verona’s “star-crossed lovers.

His death is a reminder of the price of unresolved hatred and the innocent lives caught in the crossfire of a senseless conflict.

The Nurse

The nurse is one of Juliet’s most trusted friends and a source of comic relief in the play. She provides guidance, and nurtures Juliet with an almost maternal affection. The Nurse is much more emotionally supportive of Juliet than Lady Capulet (Juliet’s mother). She wants Juliet to find joy in love, which is evident when she says to her, “Go girl; seek happy nights to happy days.

In fact, her role extends beyond just being a nurturer; she plays an important role in blossoming the romance between Juliet and Romeo. Unfortunately, her misguided advice and lack of foresight feed into the tragic ending of the story. The Nurse represents love, loyalty and the devastating consequences of misaligned trust.


Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin and a Capulet, with an unwavering loyalty to his family. He is fiery and hot-tempered, embodying the violence and hatred that fuels the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. As a result, he serves as a catalyst for the tragedy.

When he sees Romeo at the Capulet party, he demands, “Fetch me my rapier, boy”, which is clear evidence of his combative nature. His first response is to start a fight.

Tybalt has stated his own hatred of peace and harmony, “Peace? I hate that word”. He is a reflection of the toxic cycle of vengeance and hatred that permeates Veronian society. His pursuit of revenge spirals into a catastrophic series of events, which reveals the destructive potential of grudges, which can destroy individuals or society as a whole.


Benvolio is Romeo’s cousin and a Montague. He is a stark contrast to Tybalt. Despite being a Montague, he has a desire for peace and his character offers a glimmer of hope for reconciliation between the two families.

Benvolio attempts to calm the tense situations around him and encourage harmony. This is evident in his pleas like, “Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! Thou talkst of nothing“, acting as the voice of reason. He highlights the importance of empathy and understanding in resolving conflicts.

His commitment to truth and harmony is encapsulated in his heartfelt words, “This is the truth, or let Benvolio die,” highlighting a willingness to stake his integrity in his pursuit of peace. Benvolio stands as a reminder of the human capacity for empathy and the importance of forming connections based on understanding and mutual respect, even in dire circumstances.