This essay is about Juliet’s character and I am going to talk about how her behaviour develops towards Romeo, her Nurse, and on her own respectively. In the prologue we are informed that, ‘a pair of star crossed lovers take their life,’ [line 6, prologue]. This is to make us feel sympathy towards Romeo and Juliet. We also have to remember Juliet is only 13 at the start of the play and little more than a child; but she has potential to mature during the course of the play.
Act 1 Scene 5 is the first encounter between the lovers. In this scene I think Juliet is clever just doing enough to keep Romeo interested, ‘Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,’ [line 99 act 1 scene 5]. She is obviously infatuated with Romeo and behaves coquettishly towards him, ‘for saints have hands that pilgrims’ hand do touch,’ [line 101 act 1 scene 5]. Romeo and Juliet use religious imagery towards one another because in an Elizabethan times religion was their most important thing, ‘This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,’ [line 96 act 1 scene 5]. In this scene the religious imagery is used to woo each other and is formed into a sonnet emphasising their love.
Act 2 Scene 2 is the famous balcony scene of the lovers. In this scene I feel Juliet appears immature although she is in a difficult situation. ‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’ [Line 35 acts 2 scene 2]. Juliet says this aloud, forgetting anyone could hear her. The way in which she does not tell her family even though in act 1 scene 5 Capulet says, ‘Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well-governed youth.’ Although I feel she does behave maturely on occasion, ‘What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face,’ [line 43 act 1 scene 5]. Referring to that if Romeo was not a Montague the family wouldn’t object. Juliet shows how forward she is in this scene as well by asking Romeo whether he loved her, and also proposing to him. This was a very odd thing for a woman to do in Elizabethan times.
Going back to act 1 scene 3, this is the first time we see Juliet and also her first scene with the Nurse. In this scene Juliet shows maturity with her use of language as in act 1 scene 5. ‘It is a honour that I dream not of,’ [line 69 act 1 scene 3] is Juliet’s reply to her mother’s difficult question of marriage. This is resourceful because she says she is not ready, but at the same time using honour to compliment her mother, thus keeping her on Juliet’s side. As with the Nurse Juliet is very patient with her when the Nurse reminisces at length about her past, ‘and since that time it is eleven years,’ [line 38 act 1 scene 3]. This scene also really shows how close Juliet is with the Nurse, ‘Thou was the prettiest babe that ever I nursed,’ [line 63 act 1 scene 3], which is a compliment Nurse gives to Juliet. Juliet is loving towards the Nurse and takes her advice seriously, that is why Lady Capulet calls her back, ‘Nurse come back again,’ [line 9 act 1 scene 3], to talk about marriage. At the end of this scene the Nurse says Paris is, ‘He’s a man of wax,’ [line 79 act 1 scene 3], which is a metaphor, and also Lady Capulet says Paris is a flower to compliment him.
Act 2 Scene 5 is Juliet’s main scene with the Nurse. In this scene Juliet is again immature like in act 2 scene 2, and also petulant. You can see this when she is waiting for Romeo’s reply about marriage. ‘In half an hour she promised to return,’ [line 2 act 2 scene 5],’ O she is lame,’ [line 4 act 2 scene 5]. It also shows impatience and irritability. When the Nurse does finally arrive she is very impatient in contrast with her being patient with the Nurse in act scene 3. Juliet’s is unthoughtful about the Nurse’s condition. The Nurse says, ‘I am aweary, give me leave awhile,’ [line 25 act 2 scene 5], but Juliet replies, ‘Nay come, I pray thee speak,’ [line 28 act 2 scene 5], showing no care for the Nurse to whom she is supposed to be close. When the Nurse eventually does tell Juliet the news, Juliet now says something complimentary to her, ‘Honest Nurse, farewell,’ but because this is said after the good news is given, I feel this shows Juliet to be spoiled and she is only pleasent when she gets her own way.
In act 3 scene 2 Juliet shows her continuing obsession with Romeo, ‘Come night, come Romeo, come day in night,’ [line 17 act 3 scene 2] and this reinforces Juliet’s immaturity in wanting something she can’t have. In this scene overall though I feel Juliet behaves maturely. The Nurse is wailing and mourning Tybalt’s death, while also saying bad of Romeo’s name,’ Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?’ [Line 100 act 3 scene 2]. Juliet is the opposite staying quite calm and thinking logically saying, ‘That villain cousin would have killed my husband,’ meaning one of them had to die so better it be Tybalt than Romeo. In this scene Juliet uses a hyperbole saying, ‘that one word, banished, hath slain ten thousand Tybalts,’ [line 118 act 3 scene 2]. Conveying her intense emotion towards the situation.
Act 3 scene 5 is Juliet’s last scene with the Nurse. In this scene their relationship mainly breaks down due to a difference of opinion. The Nurse thinks Juliet should marry Paris, ‘I think it best if you marry with the county,’ [line 228 act 3 scene 5]. Juliet has given the Nurse a last chance to make peace with her but the Nurse’s response does not please Juliet. Juliet is mature here though because instead of telling the Nurse this she conceals her feelings so as to not hurt the Nurse. When the Nurse leaves she reveals her true feelings to the Nurse’s response, ‘Ancient damnation! O most wicked fiend! Is it more sin to wish me thus foresworn,’ [line 246 act 3 scene 5], showing Juliet’s true feelings of the Nurse’s comment.
Finally, I am going to write about Juliet’s character while she is alone, later on in the play. The first time is in act 4 scene 3. In this scene I feel she is unnecessarily courageous. Juliet has decided to take the potion but it can be seen that she is apprehensive in her soliloquy, ‘I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins that almost freezes up the heat of life,’ [line 16 & 17 act 4 scene 3]. There are many possible complications with taking the potion that Juliet can think of, ‘What if the mixture does not work at all,’ [line 22 act 4 scene 3] and, ‘What if it be poison,’ [line 25 act 4 scene 3. I think she should have just gone to Romeo because the end result is the same without the unnecessary complications.
Act 5 scene 3 is the final scene and like in the last scene Juliet is again bold in her decision. She has just awoken to the site of Romeo’s dead body and the Friar has left her. She now has a choice either to go away where the Friar sends her or to die with Romeo. She decides to kill herself,’ O happy dagger. This is thy sheath. There rust, and let me die,’ [lines 175 & 176 act 5 scene 3]. I feel this was a necessary decision due to her other option, which would not lead to a promising future with no money or skills. Also in Elizabethan times once you are dead you go to heaven although suicide was against God. Even so Juliet loved Romeo enough to go against God.
In conclusion I feel Juliet is immature at the start, but develops as the play goes on. Throughout she uses her brain to get out of tough situations, like in act 1 scene 3 when asked about marriage. Then towards the end she becomes more independent and shows maturity and inner strength. I believe this play is about the effect of hate in society. It shows how futile it is and the consequences of it on people’s lives like Romeo and Juliet. This play is a tragedy like others of Shakespeare’s, such as ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Richard the III.’ Like in this play, good conquers evil. The families in this play make friends at the end and both the evil Macbeth and Richard III dying in theirs.