Members of the Montague-Capulet Feud in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Who are the players in the central feud of Shakespeare's tragic play?

The reconciliation of the Capulets and Montagues over Juliet's body

Frederic Leighton / The Bridgeman Art Library

In Shakespeare’s tragedy "Romeo and Juliet," two noble families—the Montagues and the Capulets—are at war with each other, a state of affairs that ultimately dooms the young lovers. We never learn the origin of the feud between the two families, but it drives all of the major events of the plot; it pervades the play from the very first scene when servants from each house get into a fight.

Despite all of that, after the tragic deaths of their children at the end of the play, both families agree to bury their grievances and acknowledge their losses. Via their tragic deaths, Romeo and Juliet resolve the long-standing conflict between their respective families, but unfortunately, they do not live to enjoy the peace.

With the Montague-Capulet feud being so central to the play, it's important to know where each character fits in. The following list divides the "Romeo and Juliet's" characters by family:

House of Montague

  • Montague: Father to Romeo and married to Lady Montague, he’s concerned about his son at the start of the play and asks Benvolio to help him figure out what’s bothering Romeo.
  • Lady Montague: Romeo’s mother is less of a presence in the play than Juliet’s mother, but in the few scenes we see her, she appears to love her son deeply. When Romeo is banished, she dies of grief.
  • Romeo: The son and heir of the Montague house, Romeo is 16 years old and falls in and out of love easily. He kills Tybalt after Tybalt kills Romeo’s friend, Mercutio.
  • Benvolio: He is Montague’s nephew and Romeo’s cousin. Benvolio tries to be a good influence on Romeo, persuading him to forget about Rosaline. He acts as a peacemaker and friend to Romeo.
  • Balthasar: Romeo’s serving-man. He tells Romeo of Juliet’s “death” (when she has actually only taken poison to appear dead), which spurs Romeo to eventually kill himself.

House of Capulet

  • Lord Capulet: Juliet’s father is the family patriarch and tries to control his daughter by arranging a marriage to Paris. When she refuses, he calls her terrible names and threatens to throw her out:
"Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face
And you be mine, I'll give you to my friend;
And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets!"
  • Lady Capulet: Juliet’s mother, while more understanding of her daughter, is almost as angered by Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris as Lord Capulet is. She dismisses Juliet outright: "Talk not to me, for I'll not speak a word; do as thou wilt, for I am done with thee."
  • Juliet Capulet: At age 13, Juliet is about to be married to Paris and is deeply unhappy about it. But everything changes when she meets Romeo, despite him being from the rival Montague family.
  • Juliet’s Nurse: She is more of a mother figure to Juliet than Lady Capulet is, and she knows the young woman better than anyone else in her family. The Nurse’s sense of humor lends some much-needed levity to the play. She’s the only one who helps Juliet in her quest to be with Romeo, even though she doesn’t fully understand the intensity of Juliet’s feelings.
  • Tybalt: Lady Capulet’s nephew and Juliet’s cousin is the main antagonist of "Romeo and Juliet," owing to his deep hatred of the Montagues. Short-tempered and vindictive, Tybalt is quick to draw his sword in anger. His killing of Mercutio is a pivotal moment in the play.