Act 1 scene 3 introduces Juliet to the audience. Here she interacts with the nurse and her mother. Her words emphasise her contrasting relationships with the two. When interacting with the nurse she seems at ease and the words spoken between them shows a friendly and intimate relationship, Nurse ‘Faith I can tell her age unto an hour’ Juliet ‘And stint thou too, I pray thee nurse, say I ‘she addresses the nurse by her name. In contrast, with her mother she shows respect and only speaks when spoken to ‘madam.’ Juliet is a intelligent and although perceived my most as an obedient child she is actually being tactical and crafty. Though she only speaks when spoken to, when asked about her opinions of meeting and maybe marrying Paris she gives her mother the impression that she’ll do as she’s told, ‘ I’ll look to like if looking liking move.
But no more deep will I endart mine eye. Than your consent give strength to make it fly’ she has not actually agreed to do as she is told but has given an answer which will please everyone including herself. Also, earlier on in this scene, she demonstrates independent thinking when asked about her opinion on marriage, ‘it is an honour that I dream not of.’ This may appear to some as if she is being a young, innocent girl, therefore influenced to answer this way, but in my opinion she is being quick witted and astute. In this scene she has shown such a smart manner that her intelligence remains unknown to both the audience and the characters. As the play continues though, her aptitude and wit is increasingly revealed.
Romeo meets Juliet in Act 1 Scene 5 and they engage in sophisticated wordplay. This shows her language changing from innocent to mature. They talk in a sonnet and use religious language, ‘Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake ‘ they converse in this manner to disguise the less safe and respectable subject of kissing, love, romance and their feelings. This conveys Juliet’s strong religious beliefs. The language she uses does not reflect her true self – a child but actually the reflection appears to be a woman in control. Their first conversation is by way of a sonnet. It is spoken contrary to the traditional way of the era of the play where the man speaks all the fourteen lines. This shows they are not practising courtly love, which would be normal for their status and situation in that era. Juliet interrupts Romeo’s first four lines, quatrain with her own quatrain, which illustrates her independence and need for equality. This also shows that she is unconventional compared to both the time she was living in and her age. Unlike when she discusses Paris, when Juliet talks about Romeo she is certain when she talks of Romeo and her love for him ‘My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me that I must love a loathed enemy’
In act 2 scene 2 the language that Juliet uses reveals independence from her parents and illustrates her love, feelings and necessity to commit to Romeo to the audience demonstrating confidence in her own mind. ‘If that thy bent of love be honorable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow, By one that I’ll procure to come to thee, Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite; and all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay And follow thee my lord throughout the world.’ this shows that Julie is very modern and unconventional and unorthodox in the way she acts in comparison to the way things are. The audience would have seen this gesture as heroic and quite brave as this would have been practically unheard of. Although some people may see this act as an indication of her being young, naï¿½ve and therefore hasty I see this as proof of Juliet being sure of herself, and what she wants and being brave and unafraid take the initiative.
Act 2 scene 5 presents the idea that Juliet’s language changes as her relationship with the characters she interacts with transforms. The nurse is part of her secret relationship with Romeo and therefore she feels closer to the nurse. She can play with her as she would and could not do with her mother. She has completely withdrawn from her mother. ‘Where is my mother? Why is she within? Where should she be? How oddly thou reply’ this is because she now has Romeo and his love and is therefore feeling more secure and does not feel that it is so necessary to please everybody now. She talks in a soliloquy at the beginning and poses a lot of rhetorical questions. It is evident here to the audience that her language has changed from how it was at the beginning where she seemed uninterested in marriage and all things associated, but now the idea of marriage seems to fill her with anticipation for the answer and excitement, ‘what say he of our marriage, what of that?’ In my opinion she knew what she wanted from the start and she was just waiting until she found it, she was ready for love but finding love with her enemy was unexpected.
Juliet’s language suggests in Act 3 scene 2 that regardless of the dangers nothing stands in her way once she is committed. After marriage to Romeo without the consent of her parents she remains unswerving in her dedication to him when he is banished for killing Juliet’s own flesh and blood – her cousin – Tybalt. The audience can now see the change in Juliet, from a child to an adult literally overnight. She has taken her role as wife seriously, and chooses to support her husband whom she has known for all of three days over her family who she has known all her life. She rebukes the nurse who has been like a mother to her when she suggests being unfaithful to Romeo. Nurse ‘Will you speak well of him that kill’d your cousin?’ Juliet ‘Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband? Ah, my poor lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?’ Juliet makes it clear where her loyalties lie, not with her family, but with her husband. The audience would find this shocking, yet admirable.
Act 3 scene 5 presents the last time in which the lovers meet. Although Juliet is happy at seeing Romeo again her language displays maturity and insight in recognising the hazards even in the midst of her passion ‘O now be gone, more light and light it grows’ Juliet sees things differently to the way Romeo does. She cannot see a happy picture of them but has a omen of things to come. ‘Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb.’ Juliet though, remains strong and appears to know along with the audience that their situation is doomed. Dramatic irony takes effect and evokes sympathy in the audience, as they know what the characters don’t.
Juliet’s desperation is shown in Act 4 scene 1 where she turns to friar Lawrence for help. She will do anything to get away from following her parents’ instructions and marrying Paris. It is obvious to the audience that she is in love with and devoted to Romeo and therefore accepts the crazy scheme in which the friar comes up with. The audience at this time would have been shocked at the decision Juliet was making here but would have seen a brave and heroic side to Juliet’s character. Juliet would also be seen as disobedient and disrespectful because of the code of behaviour in that day and age.
Juliet shows great courage in act 4 scene 3. She speaks in soliloquy and starts off with short sentences showing uncertainty of the decision, which is to be made. ‘What if this mixture do not work at all’shall I be married then tomorrow morning?’ then she moves on to questions showing paranoia and thought, then she goes on to thinking about the consequences which seem rushed and make her seem as if she is not sure about what she is doing. Finally she decides on the right decision to make and drinks to Romeo ‘Romeo…I drink to thee.’ This is not the sort of behaviour that would have been expected in that time especially in the Roman Catholic Church where suicide and killing was completely unacceptable in her faith. Since Juliet’s behaviours and attitudes were so inappropriate for the time, she may have seemed rash and foolhardy to the Elizabethan audience. Personally, though I think that she should be celebrated for her courage.