Juliet’s Confrontation with her Parents in Act 3 Scene 5 is a Pivotal Scene and Begin the Sequence of Events that lead to the Final Tragedy. Analyse Juliet’s state of mind here, using evidence from the text as a whole. Provide advice for someone directing Juliet in the extract.
This play is a tragedy about two lovers from families with a long history of civil brawls between each other. Act 3 scene 5 is a pivotal scene because from this scene onwards, Juliet’s life begins to change, as does her emotions and feelings. These changes then lead to the final tragedy where both lovers take their own lives. It is important to look at scenes previous to this one, because you cannot understand what her character is like before this pivotal scene without reading how she has reacted in other situations. It is also important to look at how much her character changes in this scene. Also, without reading the whole text, you will not know the dramatic irony, which Juliet has so often used.
In Verona society, men held their daughters in a very firm iron grip. Although men would often go out, women had to stay at home. It would be unheard of to have any form of relationship with a boy if they were not married. Fathers would also give their daughters hand in marriage, and they would never make a fuss about it. Verona women were often married to men sometimes 10 years older than themselves and be having children as soon as they could physically bare children.
We first meet Juliet in Act 1 Scene 3. From this scene we can see that Juliet is not close to her mother at all. An example of this is when Lady Capulet says “Nurse, give leave a while….Nurse come back again.” Lines such as “she was weaned, I shall never forget it” shows that she is more of a mother to Juliet than her own mother is. The nurse also has pet names for Juliet such as “Lamb” “Ladybird” and “Pretty fool” which shows us that she has obviously got to know what she is like throughout her life. Juliet also has no friends to talk to, and so the nurse has become Juliet’s best friend. However, the nurse has to do as Juliet and Lord and Lady Capulet say, because she is merely a servant. This gets the nurse into several awkward positions, because although she may think that Paris is more of a match to Juliet than Romeo, the nurse still has to secretly arrange their wedding. This is shown by the quote “I am the drudge and toil in your delight” – Act 2 Scene 5. When Lady Capulet asks Juliet “How stands your disposition to be married” Juliet responds, “It is an honour I dream not of.” This shows that at the beginning of the play, Juliet is still fairly immature. Although Juliet is only 13 (“Come Lammas eve at night shall she be 14”) Juliet is now older than Lady Capulet was when she gave birth to Juliet.
In Act 1 Scene 5, Juliet and Romeo meet for the very first time. Even as Romeo starts talking to Juliet, he begins using religious language to describe her such as “this holy shrine.” As Romeo shouldn’t even be at the ball, he is very conscience of the fact that they are from rival families. Juliet describes the fact that they are meeting and flirting together as a “gentle sin,” Juliet uses religious language such as “Ay, pilgrim, lips they must use in prayer” to tease Romeo as he tries (and later succeeds) to kiss her. This use of religious language shows us that Juliet both understands the concept of religion and believes in it. This religious state of mind is important in Act 3 Scene 5 because when Juliet is asked to marry Paris, although she has already secretly married Romeo. If she went ahead with the marriage to keep the peace she would be committing bigamy, and although no-one else would know, she and God would both know that she was already married.
Act 2 Scene two is the infamous balcony scene. As Juliet is talking to herself, we hear her say “Deny they father and refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.” Juliet says here that she wishes that she wasn’t a Capulet, or Romeo wasn’t a Montague because she loves Romeo. Here we can see that Juliet knows that she is in the wrong for being in love with Romeo because of the two families quarrels. Juliet also says to Romeo “My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words of thy tongue’s uttering, yet I know the sound.” By saying this she is telling Romeo that although he has spoken less than a hundred words to her, she still feels like she knows him.
This is important as it shows that Juliet does believe in love at first sight, at least for Romeo. This is important in her state of mind that she feels that she loves Romeo at this point. This is another reason why Juliet wont marry Paris, because she believes that she is in love with Romeo. Juliet goes on to say “If they bent of love be honourable, thy purpose marriage, send me words tomorrow…” She is saying that if Romeos intention of love is honourable he will want to marry her. Juliet is still thinking about how wrong their secret love is, and if they get married, at least God will not see it as such a sin. Juliet is also thinking that if they get married, maybe the two families will unite, as Juliet will become a Montague and her maiden name will be Capulet.
From Act 3 Scene 5 everything seems to go on a downwards spiral for Juliet. After Romeo leaves as the sun rises, her mother comes into her bedroom. Here we find Juliet weeping for Romeo, however she uses many double meanings to pretend to Lady Capulet that she is mourning for Tybalt’s death. Lady Capulet tells her that crying a little shows that she loved Tybalt, but “evermore weeping for your cousin’s death” shows “some want of wit.” To this, Juliet continues to weep and says “no man like he doth grieve my heart.” Juliet’s state of mind here is that, although she knows what Lady Capulet is saying, she is truly too distraught about losing her very first love so quickly that she is inconsolable. No matter what her mother says to her, it isn’t going to stop her crying.
As Lady Capulet becomes more aware of how upset Juliet truly is, she announces to Juliet that “Marry, my child, next Thursday morn….the County Paris.” Instead of cheering Juliet up, this just adds insult to injury. Juliet’s first reaction is shocked to this complication of her already twisted love. This shock then turns to anger as she shouts at her mother “I wonder this haste, that I must wed ere he should be husband comes to woo.” It especially angers Juliet that her mother has sprung this upon her because Paris has not even come to court her. In her anger, she makes a slight slip of the tongue by saying, “I will not marry Romeo, and when I do, I swear it shall be Romeo,” then adding quickly on the end, “who you know I hate.” Lady Capulet, having no other reply to this, makes a threat to Juliet of “here comes your father, tell him so yourself, and see how he will take it at your hands.”
If I were to direct this extract of the scene I would have a large 4-poster bed in the centre of the back of the room. Lady Capulet would enter from 2 large doors on the right hand side of the stage. As she walks in the first thing she sees would be Juliet weeping hysterically, lying faced down on the middle of her bed, dressed only in night clothes. As Lady Capulet talks to Juliet she varies from being quite stern at the beginning, trying desperately to get her to stop weeping. This is because as she has never really been around Juliet crying before, she doesn’t know how to console her properly. As Lady Capulet tells Juliet of the wedding that has been planned, she goes from standing to sitting on Juliet’s bed, nervously, as though she doesn’t know how Juliet will react to her being so close (again, because she has never done this before, it has always been the nurses’ job.) As she delivers the news, Juliet begins to choke on her tears. As she hears the words “happily make thee a joyful bride” Juliet stands up, teeth clenched and circle her mother, almost spitting out the words “You shall not make me a joyful bride!” After Juliet has made her speech, Lady Capulet, slightly scared by Juliet outburst she weakly says “and see how he will take it at your hands.”
As Capulet walks in, he too wonders why Juliet is still crying over Tybalts death. He asks Lady Capulet, “Have you delivered to her our decree.” To this, Lady Capulet responds, “Ay, sir, but she will none, she gives you thanks.” To say this in front of Juliet will, of course, make her squirm slightly as to what her father will say to this. He is taken by surprise, and says he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t thank them, she isn’t proud of them, and why she doesn’t count her blessings that although she is unworthy that Capulet has managed to persuade a good man to be her husband. Juliet then replies “but thankful even for hate that is meant love.”
She is saying here that although she hates this, she’s grateful because she understands that Lord and Lady Capulet thought she would like it. Juliet here thinks that she is being clever, and that she has managed to get away with no marrying Paris. However, Capulet sees straight through her “chopt-logic” and tells her to stop mincing her words. Here he begins to make a series of both serious and unserious threats that unnerve Juliet. The first is that he tells Juliet that if she doesn’t get to the church on Thursday “I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.” Although Lady Capulet tries to keep the peace, it is Juliet who gets down on her knees and begs Capulet to stop. This shows us that she is in great distress at how her father reacted to her saying that she will not marry Paris.
It would also come as a great surprise to Juliet that her father is being both physically and violently abusive because she has always been treated so well before, as she is an only child she is the only one to bring an heir into the family. By getting down on her knees and begging her father to stop being so angry she is possibly thinking that by trying other tactics, and acting as though she is truly sorry her father will calm down and Juliet will be able to continue debating whether or not she should marry Paris, both mentally and verbally. Again, Capulet is having none of it and this time makes much more serious threats, such as “I tell thee what: get thee to church a’ Thursday, or never look me in the face,” and “my fingers itch.” Juliet speaks not a word as she hears her father screaming at her like this. This could possibly be because she is so scared by her father’s anger and threats that she is almost stunned into silence. Another reason could be because she doesn’t think that screaming back at him will get her anywhere, as she has tried different tactics such as begging already, to not much avail. She is also thinking it is quite ironic that she is going to be exiled from her own family, as the son of the family she has married into has also been exiled.
If I were to direct this scene, I would have Capulet enter from the same large doors as Lady Capulet came through. He has not heard the shouting that has gone on before hand. As he walks in, Juliet is stood up, still with tears running down her face. As he begins to talk to her, he almost mocks how she is crying still for Tybalt, but in a kind, fatherly way that shows understanding. As he says “Have you delivered to her our decree” he sounds very optimistic about the joys which lie ahead of him. As Capulet gets delivered the bad news, he starts off more confused, and this quickly develops into anger. As he says “unworthy as she is…” he really starts to explode and walks closer and closer towards Juliet. Juliet already has fear, and takes steps backwards as she tries to calm her father down by twisting her words. At this point Capulet must storm forward even more, with Juliet walking backwards and eventually climbing onto her bed.
Lady Capulet must try and step in front of Juliet and Capulet, but not so much that either of them are concerned about her presence. After she has told them to stop, Juliet should drop to her knees on her bed. As she begs with Capulet, Juliet should weakly and childishly try to grab Capulet to hold onto, but he has none of it. It is at this point where he gets very violent. He should use his upstage arm to grab her shoulder. As he says the line “or never look me in the face” he should violently twist Juliet’s a face to face him. Juliet then must try and pull away from his grip, but he overpowers her. After giving her shoulder a few hard shakes, Capulet then must pick her up and put her over her shoulder. As he delivers the lines such as “Out on her, hiding” Juliet is dropped to the floor and she lays there, motionless, crying slightly until Capulet exits.
After Juliet has found no sympathy in either Lady Capulet or Lord Capulet, Juliet decides that the Nurse might be the one to offer some support, considering that she knows the whole situation she is bound to me more sympathetic. The nurse has also been like a mother and a best friend to Juliet, so she very much doubts that she’ll disagree with anything that Juliet says. The nurse lays out the situation to Juliet that Romeo is as good as dead so she is best to forget about him. Also, Paris has green eyes, which was considered a great thing in Verona at that time. Juliet is deeply saddened at the fact that the Nurse does not give Juliet the solace she needs. Juliet decides that she can no longer trust the Nurse. This is because she has always supported their secret relationship and helped them to marry and make sure they were never caught. However, the nurse could have only done this because it was an order from Juliet and she could not disobey someone who was higher up than her. Juliet then decides that she can think for herself. For the very first time she lies to the nurse, saying that she is going to confess her sins to Friar Lawrence. She then comments at the end “If all else fail, myself have power to die.” Juliet’s love for Romeo has rapidly changed her from a childish first love to being in a mature relationship. Juliet herself has also matured by this stage, as she now has to consider things such as breaking both God’s law and the Civil law to keep the peace between her family.
To act out this scene, Juliet’s performance must be calm, then hurt. As Lord and Lady Capulet leave, Juliet should almost leap into the nurse’s arms as the nurse sits onto the bed and Juliet gradually gets up from lying where her father threw her down. Although the Nurse should welcome Juliet into a hug, as she gives her opinion on the situation, Juliet should sit further away from the Nurse as she listens to exactly what she doesn’t want to hear. As Juliet says, “Well, thou has comforted me marvellous much,” Juliet should get up and begin to walk towards the door. At this point, Juliet must walk and open the large doors. She should then look over at the nurse and angrily, yet sadly deliver her lines. As she says “If all else fail, I have myself the power to die” she should stop being so sad and show a very confident side to Juliet.
Overall, looking at the text as a whole we can see a dramatic change in Juliet as a person, and her relationship with Romeo throughout the play where we get to the pivotal scene of Act 3 Scene 5. At first we see Juliet as a very young, immature little girl who is having her future planned out for her, showing little sign of trying to disagree. Then we see her begin to take her life into her own hands more, often with the nurse’s help however, as Romeo and Juliet desperately try and find a way they can both be together. At the end of Act 3 Scene 5 we see that Juliet has become a completely independent young woman, as she goes against the grain of everything people are trying to tell her to do. She also begins to lie to the nurse who she has always trusted before. All these changes in Juliet happen so fast that they almost create the tragic ending themselves.