Romeo and Juliet Act 1 - Scene 4 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

Act 1 Scene 4 is Romeo's last chance to turn around before meeting Juliet. It also introduces us to Mercutio, perhaps the funniest Shakespeare character of them all. This lesson will cover the summary of Act 1 Scene 4 of ''Romeo and Juliet.''


In the three previous scenes, we have witnessed fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets, and we know that they hate each other. Like brawling-on-the-street hate each other. We've met Romeo Montague, one half of the star-crossed lovers, and heard him lamenting over the beautiful but uninterested Rosaline. We learn Paris wants to marry Juliet Capulet, only fourteen, and we know Juliet isn't ready but her mother thinks she is. Most importantly, we know our star-crossed lovers are heading toward their pivotal meeting.

And no, it doesn't happen here. But it will, soon. Bard's Honor.

Act 1, Scene 4: Major Characters

Romeo Montague is the teenage hero of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is a lover, as he talks of little else. Romeo, at this point in the play, is still obsessed with Rosaline, who doesn't return his affection.

Benvolio is Romeo's friend and cousin. He is a staunch supporter of the Montagues and tries hard to uphold his cousin's honor. Benvolio is committed to helping Romeo get over Rosaline.

Mercutio is one of Shakespeare's best-known characters. A good friend of both Romeo and Benvolio, he is quick-witted and quick-tempered.

Act 1, Scene 4: Summary

Romeo and his two BFFs, Benvolio (whom we know from the first scene) and Mercutio, (whom we are meeting for the first time) want to go to a party. So they don their masks and head off to the Capulet's mansion, hoping to have some fun and get poor Romeo's mind off the uncaring Rosaline.

Romeo worries aloud that they will be discovered as Montagues, but his friends reassure him. Romeo declares that he won't dance and talks of his love. Mercutio twists Romeo's declarations into twisted, sexual innuendos. Romeo ignores him, stating that he had a dream going to the feast was a bad idea.

Mercutio responds with one of the most famous speeches of the play, where he talks about Queen Mab, the fairy who messes with humans and their dreams. Though the tone of the speech is lighthearted at first, it quickly devolves into a bitter rant about humanity.

Romeo, in an attempt to calm his friend, utters one of his most famous lines, 'Thou talk'st of nothing' (I.iv.96).

Mercutio agrees, admitting that all dreams are not the fault of meddling fairies but 'children of an idle brain' (I.iv.97).

Benvolio just wants to party, so he pleads with them to continue. They agree, though Romeo says he has a bad feeling about the party, worried that Fate is messing with him. But he shrugs it off and admits that he has no control over his fate (some pretty heavy foreshadowing there), and the friends continue on to the party.

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