‘Romeo and Juliet’ was set in the 16th century in a city called Verona, in northern Italy. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare about two teenage “star-cross’d lovers”. In the play there are two families, the Capulets and the Montagues, they were at a kind of bitter war with each other, but Romeo and Juliet’s “untimely deaths” unite their feuding households.
In Elizabethan times the society was much different than it is today. For one, men were much more important than women were, the men had entire control over the household and the women and children would have to follow his rules, this is known a patriarchal society. It was also normal for children to be obedient; this was down to how strictly they were brought up. It was also acceptable for teenaged girls to get married, usually arranged by their father.
Lord and Lady Capulet have a distant but loving relationship with their daughter, Juliet. Interestingly enough it is Lord Capulet who shows more love towards Juliet than his wife. But it all changes as the play progresses. Juliet at the beginning of the play comes across as a polite and innocent girl, but she has yet to meet Romeo.
The play now moves on to Act 1 Scene 3, this scene we get a visual appearance of Juliet for the first time. The relationship between Juliet and her mother is far different than the relationship between her and her father as we witnessed from the previous scene. The relationship Juliet has with her mother is distant and formal. They also talk to each other as if they have just met. We know there relationship is formal when Juliet first comes to the room after her mother shouts her and she replies with ‘Madam I am here. What is your will’ this is very formal for someone to call their mother madam. It suggests that Juliet doesn’t feel comfortable around her. This might have been when this play was written most children were brought up by nannies or servants rather than their own parents, so they won’t grow a loving relationship if they never see each other; instead they build a strong relationship with the servant as we see in this play with Juliet and the nurse. One reason we know that Juliet is close to the nurse is that when the nurse calls Juliet she calls ‘pet name’ such as ‘Lamb/ladybird’ this suggests that the nurse has a strong bond, they are very close as she has brought up Juliet, they share the same memories as they have spent most of Juliet’s life together.
Even though the nurse isn’t Juliet’s mother she feels more like than Lady Capulet does. Lady Capulet doesn’t call Juliet by her name instead she calls her daughter which is also very formal. When Lady Capulet tells the nurse to leave the room so she can speak to Juliet in private, she then changes her mind and asks her to come back, I gather from this that she feels uncomfortable to talk to Juliet in private and that she doesn’t want to talk to her. She also says ‘thou knowst my daughter of a pretty age’ which suggest that she doesn’t even know her own daughters age, but the nurse knows Juliet birthday down to the hour which she states it is on Lammas eve (31st of July) then she goes in to great detail about her growing up, this just shows that Lady Capulet is very distant from her daughter. In this scene Lady Capulet is talking about Juliet getting married to Paris. She calls him ‘Valiant’ this suggests that she is trying to sell Paris to Juliet so she will agree to get married. It also shows that she approves of Juliet getting married to Paris. She also thinks Juliet should already be married when she states ‘I was your mother upon these years’ this means that she was pregnant with Juliet at her age and she thinks Juliet is lucky as she is not yet married. But Juliet hasn’t even thought about getting married yet as she says ‘It is an honour that I dream not of.’
To me Juliet seems to say this quite abruptly towards her mother like she has snapped at her for saying such a stupid thing. From this scene it seems like Lady Capulet is trying to push Juliet into getting married but it also seems like the nurse is trying to convince Juliet into marrying Paris by saying ‘ Why, he’s a man of wax’ this means he is so perfect it is as if he has been modelled by wax. But the nurse may think by her saying this Juliet will listen more to her than Lady Capulet because they have a stronger relationship with each other. At the end of this scene we witness how Juliet is still obedient when her mother asks will you get to know Paris at tonight’s feast and Juliet replies with ‘I’ll look to like if looking liking move’ this means that she will like Paris because her parents want her to like him. This is called alliteration the way she uses this grabs your attention to the text, it also makes you remember it because it’s catchy. She also says ‘But no more deep will I endart my eye. Than your consent gives strength to make it fly’ from this she means that she will not fall in love until her mother tells her too. This is very obedient, she is willing to try and love someone because her parents want her to and she also still talks to her mother politely and formal, but it will changes when she meets Romeo.
Lady Capulet doesn’t seem that close to Juliet in this scene the relationship between them seems cold and very distant which is shown mainly by the use of their formal language towards each other, rather than an informal, friendly atmosphere that an audience of today would expect in this society with parents and their children. Lady Capulet doesn’t seem to care what Juliet thinks about marriage, she just orders her about which also suggests that they aren’t close at all.
The audience of the day would have found it normal that a mother wasn’t close to their child as I said before they were brought up by nannies or servants so they didn’t spend quality time together to build a relationship with each other. A 21st century audience would have been shocked at this because they are used to most children getting on with their parents and living in a friendly and loving atmosphere.