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    How Shakespeare presents relationships in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

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    Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of the relationships between the characters in act 3 scene 5 ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was written by William Shakespeare in 1593, the play is set mainly in Verona, a city in northern Italy. Romeo and Juliet are the children of the two most important families, the Montagues and the Capulets, who are engaged in an ancient feud. Act three scene five gives the audience a striking dramatic contrast and is a very significant part of the play, it is also a turning point for Romeo and Juliet. This scene opens with Juliet saying goodbye to Romeo, who must leave for Mantua.

    They have just spent their wedding night together in her room. We can tell that there is a relationship from the language that Shakespeare uses, for instants when Juliet keeps on insisting that Romeo should stay and when she calls Romeo ‘love’ means that they want to stay together. The When it is day Romeo has to leave Juliet, when Romeo says, ‘more light and light, more dark and dark our woes’ this suggests that as it gets lighter, the more their sadness grows. Romeo says he would be prepared to die for love and this is very ironic and ominous to the audience.

    Juliet says she has ‘an ill-divining soul’ and imagines the she sees Romeo dead in the bottom of a tomb. Shakespeare’s uses the talk of meteors and Juliet imagining Romeo dead in the bottom of a tomb to warn the audience of the upcoming tragedy, both of these events are evil omens and develop the theme of death and misfortune. The most important feature of Juliet”s speech in this scene is ambiguity or double meanings. When Lady Capulet says that Romeo by killing Tybalt has caused Juliet”s grief, she agrees that Romeo has made her sad, and that she would like to get her hands on him.

    By placing one word – ‘dead’ – between two sentences, Juliet makes her mother think she wants Romeo dead, while really saying that her heart is dead because of him. When she swears ‘by Saint Peter”s Church and Peter too’, her mother thinks she is just using a strong oath – but the audience knows that Saint Peter decides who goes to heaven or hell: so she is swearing by the saint who would disallow a bigamous marriage. Later, Juliet speaks sarcastically to the Nurse, who thinks she is sincere, when she says that the Nurse has comforted her ‘marvellous much’, with her suggestion of ‘marrying’ Paris.

    Juliet”s last speech in this scene, as she is alone on stage, is, of course, a soliloquy – it shows what she is thinking. Both parents use interesting comparisons for Juliet”s tears. Lady Capulet suggests that Juliet is trying to wash Tybalt from his grave, because she is crying so much – she tells her daughter that she is crying too much, and makes a play on the words much and some – ‘Some grief shows much of love’, but ‘much grief shows some want [absence] of wit’ [common sense or sense of proportion].

    Lady Capulet means that Juliet is overdoing her show of grief. This kind of contrast, where similar words are rearranged in two halves of a sentence to show opposite meanings, is called antithesis. Capulet also notices Juliet”s tears but uses an extended metaphor. He compares the light rain [drizzle] of a real sunset with the heavy downpour of Juliet”s tears for the metaphorical sunset [death] of his brother”s son [Tybalt]. He develops this into the idea of a ship in a storm at sea – Juliet”s eyes are the sea, her body is the bark [ship] and her sighs are the winds.

    Juliet is obedient up until the point where she disagrees to marrying with Paris, after this she is duplicitous and not being obedient any more, there is no trust with her mother, she is being sly, when she says ‘I would the fool were married to her grave’ there is use of dramatic irony. When Juliet says she doesn’t want to marry Paris, Lady Capulet is very dismissive and doesn’t want to comment. Another feature of the language is Capulet”s range of insults. He claims that Juliet is proud: she insists that she is not, and Capulet repeats the word as evidence of her ‘chopt-logic’ or splitting hairs.

    These insults may seem mild or funny today, but were far more forceful in the 16th Century: ‘green-sickness carrion’, ‘tallow-face’, ‘baggage… wretch’ and ‘hilding’. Capulet contrasts Paris”s merits as a husband with Juliet”s immature objections. He says that Paris is ‘Of fair demesnes, youthful and nobly ligned’ and ‘stuffed… with honourable parts’. He calls his daughter a ‘wretched puling fool’ and a ‘whining mammet’, before sarcastically mimicking her objections to the match: ‘I cannot love… I am too young’.

    The audience knows of course that she can and does love it is Rosaline who cannot, and that she is obviously not ‘too young’ to marry. See if you can find out what these insults mean. Try to remember them, and act out the scene, making them as forceful as you can. Also, when Capulet becomes angry, he uses language inventively – so the adjective [describing word] proud becomes both verb and noun: ‘proud me no prouds’. And finally, he reminds us of his power over Juliet by speaking of her as if she were a thoroughbred horse, which he can sell at will – ‘fettle your fine joints’, he says, meaning that she must prepare herself for marriage.

    Juliet calls her mother ‘madam’ which tells us she has formed a very formal relationship with her; she treats her mother as a superior, and is polite and well mannered towards her. But her relationship with the nurse is very different she treats the nurse as her natural mother, as she would have been the one to raise Juliet, the nurse courageously defends Juliet when Capulet gets outraged, lady Capulet does try to defend Juliet but not as much as the nurse.

    The relationship between her and her father is also very formal, Capulet treats Juliet as a possession or object and only does what he thinks is best for her. Romeo’s and Juliet’s relationship have equality in their relationship, unlike Juliet’s parents where Capulet is the dominant one and has a higher status than Lady Capulet. This is a key scene because at the end of it all Juliet’s relationships are destroyed and she has no choice but to go to Friar Lawrence, and after this point you can tell the relationship is doomed and will be a tragedy.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    How Shakespeare presents relationships in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. (2018, May 26). Retrieved from

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