How does Capulet change through the course of the play Romeo and Juliet?
Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona in Italy during the 12th or 13th century. Verona is a wealthy suburb of Mantua, a city with a hot climate which only adds to the tension between the families.
The two main families are Capulet and Montague, are in the middle of a pointless feud as nothing is mentioned of what the feud is about. We know it is pointless “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny.” We assume that the feud is about money and power “both alike in dignity.”
The feud has gone so far and gotten so violent that death has become a consequence of the feud with the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio. The Prince then puts across the feeling that the violence has to stop: “If you ever disturb our streets again your lives shall forfeit the peace”
Capulet first comes across as a man who doesn’t think before he speaks. He seems hot-headed and ill-tempered and certainly doesn’t set a good example to the younger members of his family who look up to him: “give me my long sword” Capulet does also not intend to forget the grudge: “old Montague is come and flourishes his blade in spite of me.” Capulet really should be setting an example and trying to keep the peace, but he wishes to fight himself.
We next see Capulet talking to Paris about Juliet and the marriage and the marriage. He’s had time to think and has realised that the fighting cannot continue. He seems to genuinely care about Juliet and doesn’t want to seem to force her into marriage, but this is only because he assumes she will just accept Paris’ marriage proposal. Capulet seems much calmer at this moment: “But Montague is bound over just as I am, and on the same terms.”
Capulet also creates an amount of sympathy: “The Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she.” This suggests that all his other children are dead and hopes that he can give Juliet the best life she can have. He also presents this modern modern view that at her age she is too young to be getting married: “My child is yet a stranger in the world, she hath not seen the change of fourteen years.” Capulet then invites the people of Verona to a party at his mansion, showing that he has a fun-loving side; “Through fair Verona, find those persons out whose names are written here, and to them say, my house and welcome them on their pleasure stay.” We have now seen a more caring, gentle Capulet in a much calmer situation. We also see his good-hearted side as he decides to throw a party in his own home.
When Tybalt alerts Capulet to Romeo’s presence at the party Capulet simply tells Tybalt to ignore his presence, claiming Romeo is “a virtuous and well-governed youth.” He tells Tybalt “he will be endured”, this is strange as previously Capulet only wished to fight with the Montague’s. This is quite sad as he doesn’t know this is were Romeo will first set eyes on his daughter Juliet. Capulet then criticises Tybalt for his aggressive, rash behaviour saying “You will set a cock-a-hoop!” meaning he will cause trouble.
We also hear that Capulet very much has a party side and of his womanising as a young man. Overall we see a much more positive side of Capulet. He displays his desire is to not always cause trouble with the Montague’s as he turns a blind eye to Romeo’s gate-crashing.
Next time we encounter Capulet Tybalt is dead after his run-in with Romeo over Mercutio’s death. Capulet now no longer has his patient caring view on Juliet’s choice in whether to wed Paris or not. Now he shows he believes this is what’s best for Juliet saying to her “And you be not, hang, beg, die, starve in the streets. For by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee.” Capulet’s change of direction is a result of him expecting Juliet to simply accept the marriage proposal from Paris after her mother breaks the news she is to be wed on Thursday. Capulet enters Juliet’s chamber and says how her crying is affecting her: “How now, a conduit, girl? What still in tears?” Capulet thinks she is crying over the death of her cousin Tybalt when in fact she is crying knowing that she cannot be with her true love Romeo.
Capulet is then infuriated by Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris talking about the pride and honour at stake with this marriage and how privileged she should feel as to having an opportunity to marry someone like Paris: “Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought so worthy a gentleman to be her bride?” Then we are given the impression Capulet wishes to use violence: “My fingers itch” meaning he wants to use his fists. He then hurls abuse at Juliet in his fury “you green-sickness carrion!” and then reminds her about how marriage is important to show one’s status. He says that Juliet should marry someone of equal status as not to lower her own. He then threatens to disown Juliet: “And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets.”
Capulet’s behaviour is very interesting as the modern thinking, caring father has now completely shifted his views to suit himself
Now we see a clear contrast in the way Capulet spoke to Juliet earlier in the play and he speaks to Juliet and at this present stage. Earlier on he speaks of Juliet as his pride and joy and doesn’t wish to rush her into marriage: “Too soon married are those early made,” showing he wants to make sure she isn’t seemingly forced into it. Then when Juliet refuses to wed Paris he uses short sentences which sound the most aggressive and uses alliteration: “I will drag thee a hurdle hither.” He uses alliteration as this puts a greater emphasis as it has greater affect when said. He uses harsh sounding words “you baggage,” as b’s and f’s are very sharp sounds. Capulet also uses very harsh verbs: “And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets.” Most would agree that these are very harsh things to say to your own daughter.
In act IV scene V Capulet is overcome with grief after Juliet’s “death”: “Death hath tane her hence to make me wail ties up my tongue.” This does earn Capulet some sympathy but really he doesn’t accept he played a major part in Juliet’s death which doesn’t help in making us feel sympathy for him.
Later in the play we see Capulet accept blame for his daughter’s death and offers his hand to Montague “O brother Montague, give me thy hand. This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more can I demand.”
In conclusion Capulet changes in different ways at different stages, his language is one of the main contrasts in Capulet’s behaviour throughout the play. At the beginning we see this aggressive person who just wishes to fight. Then we see him talking about Juliet with Paris, here Capulet seems very caring and considerate as to what Juliet wants. Then Juliet refuses to marry Paris Capulet becomes very aggressive towards Juliet, he hurls abuse at her, threatens her with violence and also threatens to disown her. This is a stark contrast compared to the modern-thinking, caring father. He does however pay the price for his erratic behaviour with the loss of his very own Juliet. By only thinking of himself and shifting views to suit himself he loses the most important thing in his life.