Capulet is a leading citizen of Verona and head of one of the two feuding families: Capulet and Montague. The way he reacts to different events shows a variety of sides to his character.
We first meet him in Act 1, Scene 1 where we find him demanding for his long-sword to join in with the fighting of the young men and servants in the opposing households. One of the things he says is “What noise is this? Give me my long-sword, ho!” This shows that he is a demanding character since he expects others to do as he says. In this case, ordering for someone to give him his sword. It also shows an irresponsible side to his character who is condoning violence. His unbecoming behaviour is not the sort you would expect from a man who is supposed to be an important member of society. Asking for a long-sword shows his age because a long-sword is an old fashioned, heavy weapon and not the weapon of choice for the younger athletic men. We can tell he is trying to act younger by wanting to join in with what the young men are doing and be a part of the action.
After Capulet asks for his sword, Lady Capulet says replies “A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?” Lady Capulet is saying that he needs a crutch, not a sword. By saying he needs a crutch, she is implying that he is old because people generally need crutches when they can’t walk. Capulet sees himself as a man who is still young and healthy and able to do pretty much anything he wants, however his wife see’s him as an old man who ‘isn’t what he used to be’. If Lady Capulet sees him as old, other people would also see him as being old as well. People may think he’s stupid for acting like a youth when he’s an elderly man.
In Act 1, Scene 2 we find Capulet talking to Paris, a noble count. Paris asks Capulet for his consent for him to marry Juliet, however Capulet is worried that his thirteen year old daughter is too young to be married. “Let two more Summers wither in their pride, Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.” Capulet says that Juliet will be ripe in two years time. The word ripe describes something which is ‘ready’ or ‘just right’. He is basically saying that she needs some time to develop maturity and wants her to wait for marriage until she is more sexually mature. When a tree is fully grown, it is ready to bear fruit; when a fruit is ripe, it is ready to pick and eat. In this case, he could be refferring to her as a sexual object and may be thinking about her bearing fruit herself. Childbirth could be an issue on his mind since he thinks she is too young and not ready to have a child at her age. Having a child at a young age is considered dangerous for both the mother and the baby. This shows he is a good father because he is thinking about what’s best for her.
Another thing he says whilst talking to Paris is “My will to her consent is but a part.” This shows he is being understanding on Juliet’s behalf because he is letting her partly make a decision for herself instead of completely making the decision for her. It enables us to see a more considerate side to his character. He doesn’t want to give Paris permission to marry her yet, since he wants Juliet’s consent too. On the other hand, he may use his small part of the decision that he has to his full potential and his controlling, dominating personality may take over. We can tell that he likes to have control over his daughter since he is making sure he has a say in who she marries and won’t let her make a decision entirely on her own. Capulet invites Paris to his party so Paris can ‘woo’ her more easily and Juliet can see whether or not she takes a liking to him.
In Act 1, Scene 5 Capulet’s party takes place. At the party, Capulet shows off and is embarrissing and flirty. “Will now deny to dance’she that makes dainty, she, I’ll swear, hath corns.” This is an example of Capulet being flirty towards the young ladies. He is asking them to dance in a flirty manner and trying to impress them by showing off. He is also alienating and embarrissing the ladies so that they follow what he says by saying that whichever lady acts shy and doesn’t dance has corns. He associates corns with older women which shows he is being offensive to the older ladies. One way to become popular is to have beautiful women at your party which is why he wants them to be there and shows he is trying to be popular. Being flirty towards women who are so much younger than himself could be seen as slightly odd by some people. He may be acting this way in front of them so they become attracted to him. However, the young ladies would most likely not be attracted to him since they would prefer to mix with people of their own ages. Trying to hold onto the youths at the party could imply that perhaps he is trying to hold onto his own youth. It shows he is desperate to be involved with the younger generation since he tries to act the way the youths act and be like them. Once again, he is trying to act younger, as we saw when we first met him in Act 1, Scene 1.
As it starts to get late, people start to leave Capulet’s party. “Nay, gentlemen, prepare not to be gone.” Capulet doesn’t want people to leave because he doesn’t want the party to end. He doesn’t want to be thought of as an old man who gets tired, he wants to be seen as a young man who can stay up late and host a lively party. The younger generation most likely do not see him how how wants to be seen. They probably see him how he appears: an old man. This is another example of him wanting to be popular. It is also another example of him trying to hold onto his youth.
In Act 3, Scene 5 we see an agressive side to Capulet. Capulet is angry because he has arranged for Juliet to marry Paris, however she is refusing to do so. “Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!” Capulet is insulting Juliet because she doesn’t want to marry Paris which is what he is trying to force her to do. This shows that Capulet gets easily frustrated when he doesn’t get his own way. He’s not well acquianted with Juliet’s thoughts or feelings and isn’t taking Juliet’s opinion into account.
He seems to think that what is best for her is for her to get married to Paris, although he hasn’t even talked to her to see what she wants. Due to her not doing as he says, he is calling her names such as ‘wretch’ and ‘baggage’. A ‘wretch’ is a hated or despicable person. When people get angry, they often say they hate the person whom they are angry with, therefore he may not necessarily mean it but it’s still an awful thing to say to her, considering it’s only because she doesn’t want to marry someone who she barely knows. Another word for ‘baggage’ is a prostitute and being a prostitute in those days was highly looked down upon and therefore an extreme insult. Capulet could perhaps be reffering the word ‘baggage’ to ‘extra baggage’ which he wants to get rid of. When you carry something it weighs you down; Capulet could be implying that Juliet is extra baggage which is weighing him down.
He also says “Speak not, reply not, do not answer me, my fingers itch.” Capulet is saying that he’s on the verge of hitting Juliet. This shows a violent side to him. The meaning of an ‘itch’ is a ‘longing’, so to say he is itching means he is longing to do something – in this case, to hit Juliet. He wants her to shutup and doesn’t want to hear her opinion because he thinks that what he is saying is right. He doesn’t think that she is mature enough to make a decision for herself and likes to make decisions for her. This shows he is a controlling person and likes to have a certain amount of control over people. He also always wants people to accept what he thinks is right as right. We can see that he commands respect and propriety and is liable to fly into rage when either is lacking. Capulet must have a very blind temper to result to threatening Juliet over a simple thing such as her not wanting to marry Paris.
As Capulet gets angrier with Juliet, the Nurse steps in and tells Capulet he’s wrong to berate Juliet the way he is. Capulet replies – “And why, my Lady Wisdom? Hold your tongue, Good prudence. Smatter with your gossips, go.” He is being rude towards the nurse by calling her an old woman and telling her to shutup. He also calls her a ‘wise lady’ in a sarcastic manner. This sarcasm implies that he is calling her stupid. This gives more evidence that Capulet thinks he knows best and that he is always right. It also shows that Capulet looks down on people who he thinks are ‘lower-class’ than himself. Even though he is generally ‘higher class’ than the nurse, it seems like he knows that, therefore he tends to flaunt it and this comes across as arrogance. Arrogance is something which a lot of people dislike and this could affect Capulet’s popularity if he acts this way in front of other people.
Overall, Capulet is a powerful character which makes other characters appear ‘weaker’ in comparison. He displays a mixture of qualities and has many contrasting sides to his character; good and bad.