The play which Shakespeare wrote was a romantic tragedy called ‘Romeo and Juliet’. This play was written in the early 17th century.
The plot of this play is two families in Verona. The Capulet’s and Montague’s which have been fighting for many years. At the Capulet’s party Romeo Montague sees Juliet Capulet and they fall in love. It’s not long after were Romeos and Juliet’s love is doomed as neither family will accept their marriage. Friar Lawrence tries to put things right but his plans are doomed to failure and the couple commit suicide each believing the other is dead. After so many deaths do the families realise they are to blame.
In Elizabethan times arranged marriages was a common thing. Women of the age thirteenth or fourteen were married of to a much older man. Juliet was thirteen when lord Capulet thought of marrying her to Paris, a much older man. The reason of this is because they would want a babe boy. To continue the heir of the family. Juliet agreed to marry Paris until she meet Romeo and fell in love with him. She then disobeyed her father and refused to marry Paris. As she was in love with Romeo. Disobeying her father she knows she has to suffer the consequence. Friar marries Romeo and Juliet together without the parent’s permission trying to reunite the families. But doesn’t work. Meaning now she can’t get married to Paris as she already married to Romeo.
In Elizabethan times men were head of the house what ever they said was expected to be obeyed. Women were controlled by the males. Women at the ages of thirteen and fourteen were married of to a much old man. Men were less responsible they would do anything they pleased. The children of them times would be bought up by a Nurse.
Capulet is head of the family. Like all Elizabethan fathers he is expected to be obeyed. Capulet is a kind considerate father. Capulet discusses his daughter’s marriage with Paris.
‘She is the hopeful lady of my earth.’
The things he says about Juliet shows she is very close to his heart and his words suggest she is very important to him as she is the only surviving child of Lord Capulet.
Lord Capulet is well liked in the community. He invites many local people to attend the Capulet party. All attended and even some extras.
‘Through fair Verona, find those person but whose names are written there, and to them say my house and welcome on their pleasure stay.’
Capulet is insisted on being obeyed as he is head of the household and shows that he demands total respect and expects to be obeyed from all members and servants of the family. ‘Am I the master here, or you?’
An example of Capulet’s temper is when Juliet refuses to do as she is told and Capulet gets furious. ‘I tell thee what, get thee church o Thursday or never after look me in the face.’ The reason Capulet gets angry is because he is being disobeyed and he demands respect.
Capulet is very cruel and heartless when Juliet disobeys him. He hurls abuse at Juliet, calling her names which would have been incredibly insulting in the Elizabethan times because she refused to do as she was told and didn’t want to get married to Paris.
‘Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage!’
Lady Capulet is seen as a typical well -to-do lady of the Elizabethan period. She didn’t have much to do with the bringing of her daughter Juliet. Lady Capulet is a very much loyal, obedient wife and mother.
When she discusses her daughters marriage to Paris she panics because she doesn’t really know much about her own daughter as she didn’t have much with bringing her up. So she calls the Nurse back into the room needing her help to persuade Juliet to accept Paris.
‘Nurse, come back again. I have remember’d me, thou’s her our council.’ The Nurse talks about the important events in Juliet’s life. ‘She could have run and waddled all about.’ It is also obvious that her husband has been a father figure to Juliet.
Lady Capulet tells Juliet she must obey her father and marry Paris. She upholds her husband’s position as head of the household. ‘Marry, my child, early next Thursday morn.’
She expects Juliet to be happy to marry Paris and passes Capulet’s wishes to Juliet.
We see lady Capulet’s cruel, uncaring side as Juliet refuses to obey her father she brings dishonour on the family. ‘Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word.’ We see the irony of her words as Juliet’s death occurs very soon after. They also reveal her cold, callous side as she is unwilling to support her daughter.
Juliet is the only surviving child of Lord and Lady Capulet. Juliet was thirteen years old, which was consider old enough for her to get married in Elizabethan society. She is not a typical submissive daughter. She agrees to consider Paris as her husband but then falls in love with Romeo.
Juliet is very fond of the Nurse and shares her secrets with her. Juliet was raised by the Nurse ever since she was born. This shows that there is a strong bond between the two like mother and daughter. She share all her secrets with the Nurse particularly those about Romeo. The Nurse is like a mother to Juliet.
“I faith I am sorry that thou art not well.
Sweet, sweet, Nurse, tell me what says my love?”
Juliet is very quick to betray her family honour when she discovers Romeos identity.
Juliet knows that her families would never agree to their marriage as Romeo is the son of her father’s enemy.
“My only love sprung form my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and know too late.
Prodigious birth of love it is to me that I must love a loathed enemy.”
Juliet is stubborn and refuses to marry Paris, disobeying her father’s specific orders. As she is in love with Romeo. England had a strong catholic tradition and having to husbands was not legal. Juliet made it very clear that she will not marry Paris. Unfortunately she is unable to tell her parents as it would result in Romeos death.
“Now, by Saint Peters church, and peter too,
He shall not make me there a joyful bride!”
The only thing Juliet now had left was the Nurse even her she losses when the Nurse tells her to forget Romeo and to marry Paris as the Nurse is on her parent’s side, fearing she may lose her job and leave the Capulet family. ‘Speakest thou from the heart?’ Juliet then realises she has no-one to turn to for support.
The Nurse was a loyal family servant; she is employed by the Capulets, as a wet nurse. She treats Juliet as her own daughter.
The Nurse is very fond of Juliet she treats her like her own daughter and supports her when ever she has any problems with Romeo accept. The Nurse bought up Juliet ever since she was born and has always been there for her.
‘Thou wast the prettiest babe that e’er I nursed.’
The Nurse encourages Juliet to continue her relationship with Romeo and interferes with the families business. She really cares for Juliet and is aware of the situation and Juliet’s infatuation. She is also aware of the feelings of the Capulets and Montague’s.
‘Hie you hence to Friar Lawrence’s cell,
There stays you a husband to make you a wife.’
The Nurse fails to support Juliet when is told to marry Paris and lets Juliet down badly. The reason the nurse tells Juliet to forget Romeo and marry Paris is because she backs Juliet’s parents. ‘Romeo’s a dishclout to him.’
Fearing the Capulets would find out she was meddling with the families business and she would be throw out the house and nobody would then employ her knowing she isn’t trustworthy and her life would have been ruined.
The young members of the families play an important part in the play. They braw at every opportunity to maintain their family honour. They are sons of wealthy people the Capulets and Montague’s. They don’t have much to do in their time. Tybalt is the cousin of Juliet.
The young Capulets and Montague’s are always ready to fight each other and this causes problems and anger in Verona. Prince Escalus anger towards the behaviour of the Capulets and Montague’s threatens the families with death if there’s another incident as it has just gone too far.
‘If ever you disturb the our streets again,
Your lies shall pay the forfeit of the peace.’
Not only the young members of the family fight but even the servants see it as their duty to fight and insult each other. ‘Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?’
This was regarded as a rude gesture, a serious insult, and they would fight over it. They would find anyway to start a fight. As they have nothing else to do.
Tybalts desire to protect the family honour is cause of two deaths. He is the man agitator of the young men. Romeo went to the Capulets party uninvited but not causing any problems. Tybalt sees Romeos presents and sees it as an insult on the family turning up uninviting. Here Tybalt is being belittled and treated as a child by his uncle. ‘It fits when such a villain is a guest; I’ll not endure him.’
This causes Tybalt to desire revenge upon Romeo which he performs later on in the play which results in his own death. This event has transformed Tybalt’s hatred into more personal hatred towards Romeo rather than just hatred for the whole Montague family. Tybalt’s use of language makes his character appear determined and adamant. He is an argumentative young man which you can see in the way he speaks to his uncle about what he wishes to do. He looks out for trouble and loves fighting which is why he desires to fight Romeo.
I think Shakespeare has explored the theme of family values. He has shown how the families get along. The males are head of the household and accepted total respect and obedience. What they said was expected to be done. If not they had to suffer the consequences.
The 21st century audience can learn that families shouldn’t fight they are many other ways to settle a problem. Your family is they closes thing that you will have throughout your life, and they people you can trust.