Act 4 Scene 1
Paris is in the cell of Friar Lawrence. He talks about his future wedding with Juliet, saying that she still excessively mourns Tybalt and her father wisely decided the day of wedding for her, delaying it a bit to let his daughter calm down. But still Paris is impatient and wants Juliet to end her mourning as soon as possible and indulge in married life with him. Friar Lawrence solemnly listens, quietly saying to himself that he wishes he didn’t know why the wedding shall be delayed… Enters Juliet. Paris talks to her, sweetly but arrogantly. Juliet is neutral and indifferent, just reminding him that they are not married yet. Friar Lawrence asks Paris to go out, for he needs to listen to Juliet’s confession. Paris suddenly kisses her – he already considers Juliet his fiancée – and leaves.
Juliet is desperate, she is ready to die but not to marry Tybalt. She draws a knife and says that she is ready to kill herself right here and now. Friar Lawrence calms her down like he calmed Romeo before – by saying that this impulsive deed won’t do any better to her or to her beloved Romeo. He says that he has a plan: Juliet will pretend that she agrees to marry Paris, but he will give her a strong sleeping potion, so strong that the breath of its victim stops and they appear lifeless. Juliet should take this potion before the wedding day. Everyone will think that she is dead and she will be put to rest in the Capulet tomb. Meanwhile, Friar Lawrence will send for Romeo, he will make his way to the tomb, wake her up and they will flee to Mantua together to life without their oppressive parents. Juliet happily agrees.
Act 4 Scene 2
Juliet returns home, apologizes for being so delinquent and cheerfully announces that she is ready to marry Paris. Her father is so happy to hear it that he again shifts the date of the wedding to Wednesday. Juliet starts her preparations in her chambers, but not for the wedding as everyone thinks.
Act 4 Scene 3
At night before the wedding Juliet asks the Nurse and her mother to leave her alone to prepare and pray. When they go out, the girl takes the vial with the potion. She hesitates for some minutes: what if Friar Lawrence gave her an actual poison, trying to cover his traces in assisting her and Romeo’s wedding? Or what if Romeo won’t manage to reach her tomb in time and she will die for real, driven mad from fear amongst the corpses? But eventually Juliet gathers her courage and opens the vial. She drinks it in the name of Romeo.
Act 4 Scene 4
It is morning of the wedding day. The Capulet house is decorated and prepared. Juliet’s father orders the Nurse to wake his daughter up and help her dress. The Nurse comes to her chambers, but Juliet doesn’t open. When she finally gets inside, she sees the girl dead. The Nurse starts to wail and call the Capulets. Both of Juliet’s parents go up to her room and join the lament.
Soon Paris arrives, accompanied by Friar Lawrence, the band of musicians and his servants. He is very upbeat at first but when he learns what happened, Paris also joins the rest of the house in their grief. He orders to cancel everything and mourns Juliet. Friar Lawrence interrupts, reminding anyone that Juliet is now in the better place and they should not cry, but prepare for the proper funeral instead.
Act 4 Scene 5
The musicians gather their instruments, understanding that there will be no job here today. But Peter, one of the Capulet servants, stops them, asking to play something cheerful, just to override the solemn mood in the house. The musicians refuse, saying that it would be inappropriate and disrespectful towards the deceased Juliet. Offended, Peter starts to insult them. Gradually, the angered musicians start to answer, but singing their own insults instead of merely shouting them. Finally, Peter runs out of words and then leaves. The musicians decide to stay anyway, because they were promised a lunch and it should be already prepared, mourning or not.