How Does the Play "Romeo and Juliet" Conclude?

play-romeo-juliet-conclude Credit: Son of Groucho/CC-BY-2.0

The play "Romeo and Juliet" concludes with the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo arrives at Juliet's tomb and, believing that she is dead, swallows a vial of poison rather than face life without her. After he dies, Juliet awakens from the death-like trance she had been placed under, sees Romeo's dead body, and stabs herself with his dagger.

The deaths of Romeo and Juliet fulfill the prophecy laid down in the play's prologue: "A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life/Whose misadventured piteous overthrows/Do with their death bury their parents' strife." When Romeo and Juliet's fathers, Capulet and Montague, arrive at the tomb and see their children dead in each other's arms, they become united in grief and make peace with one another.

Romeo and Juliet's suicide also serves as a microcosm for the play and a metaphor for sexual release. In Shakespearian times, containers like vials were normally associated with female sexuality, while Romeo's dagger is a phallic symbol. By utilizing these sexual icons as the instruments of suicide, Romeo and Juliet symbolically reenact their tragic romance. Their "love" is the cause of their deaths, but at the same time, their deaths are transformed into a twisted consummation of their desire for one another.