The Elizabethan society was patriarchal, meaning that men were considered to be the leaders and women their inferiors. Women were regarded as “the weaker sex”, not just in terms of physical strength, but emotionally too. It was believed that women always needed someone to look after them. This is when our play is set so in theory Juliet should obey rules, but as we find out she does not always obey the times of the day just because she is a woman. Throughout this essay, I am going analyse the transformation of Juliet.
The Prologue tells us that the prince is effectively wasting his time even thought he does not know it. So this shows the theme of destiny, linking to the prologue: “star cross’d lovers.” This tells the audience that the pair of lovers are not meant to be together even before the play starts. We know from the start that she is going on a journey that will result in her transformation
Juliet’s character in the beginning of the story conveys that she is a very obedient child, this is illustrated by, “Madam, I am here what is your will?” This conveys that Juliet is devoting herself to whatever may be asked of her. Also, the word “Madam” tells us that her family is of higher status in her house than others, so she is respectful and selfless. In this scene Juliet is also referred to as a lamb: “I bade her come, what lamb.” This reference to a lamb means that she is still young, it additionally shows purity. This is important, because later on in this scene they talk about marriage even though Juliet is so young. It also implies she is still in need of guidance.
When Romeo arrives uninvited at the masked ball in act 1 scene 5, we start to see a change; this leads to the development of her character because her views on love change and, so does her personality.
When Romeo meets Juliet, he wants to kiss her, concluding in Juliet starting to flirt with him, so she is learning about love: “Lips that they must use in prayer.” by saying this, Juliet is making a point that lips should not be used in kissing. This shows that she knows what is right, but even this does not stop her from kissing him. This shows that she is becoming more independent and acting on what she wants, rather than what anybody else wants. Her innocence appears to be slipping as she is flirtatious and disregards expectations of herself.
When Romeo’s eyes fall upon Juliet, she is perceived as a woman and not as a girl this is illustrated by “As a rich jewel in ethiop’s ear.” This simile shows that she is now perceived as a very beautiful, young woman. A jewel suggests she beautiful and this is a trait typical of a woman and not a child so Shakespeare is hinting at her development. This shows that she is breaking the stereotype as shown in the first scene. Her being perceived as a women is quite different than in the begin of this play when she is recognized as a “lamb,” because a lamb represented her as a child.
At the end of this scene Juliet shows more signs of developing her character. We know this from her asking her nurse names of the men when they are leaving but, this is just a clever trick – she only wants to know the name of one person. This shows that she is breaking out of what people previously thought of her, a “lamb,” as she is being clever: a “lamb” is not clever as it usually follows its mother. When Juliet finds out that his name is Romeo and a Montague she exhibits decisive behaviors. This is evident from, “My one true love from my only hate.” This shows that Juliet has found someone whom she loves, and not someone chosen. So this is another example of her becoming more independent than she was at the beginning of the play. It also suggests that she is sensitive and perceptive of the danger that may follow.
Juliet’s character in act 2 scene 2 changes, due to the presence of Romeo. As Juliet changes in this scene she appears as being caught between her new found indedependence and her previous dependent state This is illustrated by “It’s too rash, too unadvised, too sudden”. This captures that she knows that she is rushing but carries on – “This bad love.” This shows naivety because she has realized that she is moving too quickly, yet she continues regardless. This adult situation is causing confusion within her
Juliet’s character in the last scene showed confidence and that she was ready to denounce her family but this could change. Juliet changes into a different character because with her new secret marriage with Romeo, as she has to decide where her loyalties lie.
In the beginning of this act 4 scene 2, Juliet is ready and waiting at this point she is anxious and she also she also exhibits desires of a mature woman, this is apparent from “spread close curtain, love performing night.” This suggests that she cant wait to consolidate her marriage with Romeo, so at this point in the scene she can’t wait for him to come. This again links to the fact that she is not a lamb anymore; she is impatient and she is the one being followed. The alliteration emphasises her excitement and her new found passion. Later on in this scene, she is confused because she hears news that Romeo has killed Tybilt, here her maturity is tested as are her loyalties. This is illustrated by “Beautiful tyrant”. This oxymoron reflects her conflicting emotions towards love and Romeo. Juliet shows that she loves Romeo and almost takes sides but she is in two minds as she loves Romeo but as he has done such a bad thing a choice has to be made. She is torn by his double nature as he appears angelical on the surface but obviously has the capacity for evil. This inner turmoil is evidence of Juliet’s struggle to transgress the boundaries of childhood.
In act 4 scene 5 scene Juliet goes against what her father wants: in the Elizabethan era this would be considered wrong, this is because at the time women were below men in this patriarchal society. This means that she should do as she is told, in theory marrying Paris, but this turns into an argument between Juliet and her father.
In this scene, Juliet has gone out, and the house thinks that she has gone to see the Friar but she has not, she has gone to see Romeo. This is yet again showing that she is deciding on what she wants to do rather than what everyone else wants her to do. She manipulates her family into thinking she went to the Friar for forgiveness; this is apparent from “pardon I beseech you.” This conveys that Juliet has become more disobedient because not only has she lied to her father, she is now pretending to beg for forgiveness, even thought she told Romeo that she is prepared to give up her family for him. But she is on her knees begging forgiveness, so not only is she disobedient to her family but to Romeo too. While growing up she is confused about where her loyalties lie, either with her family or her lover. Moreover she is being deceitful and cunning which is in complete contrast to how she was at the start.
In this scene she appears desperate “If all else fails, myself have the power to die” this captures that Juliet is thoughtless, defiant and additionally shows that she cares about herself, so she is becoming more self-centered. This is also dramatic irony, as it is going to happen even thought she does not know yet. The audience registers this and it creates a sense of sadness. Additionally in this scene the nurse changes her position on Romeo which Juliet is not happy with and she becomes critical of the nurse and a gap between the two is evident due to her character evolution: “Ancient damnation of o most wicked fiend”. The language used shows that Juliet is being blunt about how she feels about the nurse. Her loyalties have changed. This shows that she is not happy with this; earlier on the nurse was saying how wonderful Romeo was, but all of a sudden she has changed sides. This is not good for Juliet because she thought that she could depend on the nurse so this is just another blow it must fell like everything that can go wrong is. This is ironic because everything that can go wrong will when she dies
In act 4 scene 3, Juliet is worried about the plan and displays child like fear which is in opposition with her previously assertive personality: “What if it be a poison which the friar subtly hath ministered to have me dead?” This tells us that Juliet is worried because she could die, yet she decided to take what the Friar has giving to her because she thinks she has no choice this is another example of a dramatic irony. This creates tension plays with the audience. This also links in with the theme of destiny because no matter what she does she is going to die. This is because Juliet is going to die but she is worrying about it. This is very different from what she was thinking and behaving like in the beginning of the play: she used to be obedient and thinking about marriage but now she is disobedient and thinking about death.
So throughout the course of this story we have seen Juliet change from an obedient girl who respects her mother and father. As the events take place, she very quickly becomes a very different person. This is all down to her meeting Romeo. If she had taken her parent’s word and just went with Paris, she would be fine, but this is not just her fault; if Romeo had not gate- crashed the party then he would not be in this mess too. So together they have both ended up in this mess. They both end up killing each other because they both wanted to love each other.