Key players

  • Romeo: Son of Montague
  • Benvolio: Nephew of Montague, friend of Romeo
  • Mercutio: Relative of the Prince, friend of Romeo

Summary of key events

  • The festivities are about to commence at the house of Capulet and, concealed amidst the Masquers, Romeo and Benvolio arrive with their close friend, Mercutio.
  • Stifled by “love’s heavy burden”, Romeo refuses to dance with his friends.
  • He reveals that he has had an ominous dream, but will not be any more specific.

Act I, Scene 4

  • Mercutio tries to lighten Romeo’s
    mood, and muses that Romeo must have been visited in sleep by Queen Mab, the “fairies’ midwife”. She races over peoples noses as they slumber, riding in a chariot steered by a gray-coated gnat and made from an empty hazelnut.
  • “In shape no bigger than an agate stone/On the fore-finger of an alderman” (page 53, line 55)

Act I, Scene 4

  • Romeo is not as amused as Mercutio himself is by his inventive tale, and Romeo implores him to be silent. He cannot shake the feeling that:
  • “Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin this fearful date with this night’s revels, and expire the term of a despised life clos’d in my breast by some vile forfeit of untimely death
    (page 57, lines 107-111)

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