A Plague and a Scourge
Mercutio's curse, “A plague o' both your houses!” is fulfilled, although not literally. Despite the numerous ways scores of characters die in Shakespeare's plays, no one in this play or any other Shakespeare play dies of the plague. But the plague is the proximate cause of Romeo's and Juliet's deaths. When Friar Lawrence sends Friar John to deliver a letter to Romeo telling him of Juliet's fake death, Friar John is quarantined on his way for being suspected of exposure to the plague. This delay prevents Romeo from getting the letter. That results in Romeo and Juliet dying in the Capulet tomb. As Prince Escalus observes, “A scourge is laid upon” both the houses of Capulet and Montague.