Examine the character of lord Capulet. Is the audience prepared for the violent outburst towards Juliet in act 3 scene 5 or is it a surprise? – First draft
In this essay, I will be examining the character of Lord Capulet in the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet but first I shall give you some background information on the writer. Shakespeare’s birthday is a topic which has been argued about quite a bit, some sources say that his birthday was St. Georges day (23rd April) 1564, others however suggest that this is just an estimate based on the fact that he was baptised on April 26th1564. The play was set 150 – 200 years before it was written and the characters were dressed and the set made accordingly but all Shakespeare’s characters acted and talked like the people of Shakespeare’s time.
The plot of the play is that Romeo and Juliet, two star-crossed lovers from families that have been enemies for years, fall in love Romeo is exiled for murdering Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, shortly after marrying Juliet. Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, knows nothing of the marriage and in an effort to stop Juliet crying (for Romeo of course but he thinks for Tybalt) he promises to arrange for her to marry Paris, a young and wealthy man who finds himself in love with Juliet although she doesn’t reciprocate. This makes her feel worse because she is already married to Romeo and she is shown to be very religious and so she is confused, should she go against the church, the law and her heart, marry Paris and commit bigamy or go against her father and tell him thanks but no thanks?
When Juliet refuses to marry someone Lord Capulet has promised her to, she is met by a violent and angry father, this is how any Elizabethan father would react to his daughter defying him.
In the opening scene lord Capulet is portrayed by Shakespeare as an old but hot-headed man who still thinks he is young enough to fight
“bring me my long sword ho”
but his wife soon tells him otherwise
“a crutch, a crutch, why call you for a sword?”. This tells the audience that he is a violent man even with only the lightest provocation.
In the second scene of the play Lord Capulet is shown to be more compassionate, he loves his daughter and says he will give her the choice of who to marry and not make the decision for her and that she should wait two years because he thinks early marriages don’t work. He also says that he and Lord Montague can easily keep the peace, even though they were ready to fight, to kill, each other earlier in the play. This shows that he is not worried about not fighting Mountague because Mountague can’t fight him either so Capulet hasn’t shown weakness which is what Shakespeare shows to be his worst fear because he cares so much about his reputation he dreads being made to look weak. This shows a man who wants only the best for his daughter and cares about what people think this explains why he is angry in Act 3 Scene 5 because his daughter won’t accept the best he can give her.
Lord Capulet is portrayed as a man who likes to be in control of his family and loses his temper at Tybalt when he says he will kill Romeo at the Capulet’s party, many people in the audience in Shakespeare’s England would be shocked that a member of the family younger and less powerful than Capulet dare challenge his authority. This shows he is not restricted to being violent and aggressive towards the Mountagues his own family can receive his insults and threats.
Juliet is depressed in Act 3 scene 4 because she married Romeo then he was banished because he killed Tybalt, who in turn killed Mercutio (a friend of Romeo’s) but Lord Capulet thinks she is crying because
“She loved her kinsman Tybalt dearly”
and thinks that marrying Paris will cheer her up, which is why he reacts violently when she refuses, Which is something Elizabethan daughters would never do.
To conclude; Shakespeare prepares the audience for what is to happen in some ways but they can mostly only be seen in hindsight, so the audience are probably not properly prepared for the outburst. Although audiences of the time would have expected to see Capulet discipline his daughter they may not have been prepared for it as he has shown love and compassion to her earlier.