The play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ written by William Shakespeare, an English poet, is about forbidden love. The play focuses on two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, whose families are feuding enemies. This forces the young lovers to marry in secret and betray their families. In revenge to his friends death Romeo murders Tybalt who is Juliet’s cousin (Lord Capulets nephew) and the heir to the Capulet fortune. This puts pressure on Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, to find a match for his daughter that won’t just marry her for their fortune. Ultimately Romeo and Juliet both commit suicide in a tragic end.
In Elizabethan times family roles were different compared with modern times. It was common for marriages to be arranged for power or money and it was unheard of for a marriage to happen without the parents consent. In a family the father held the power in the household a wife and daughter had to obey. Sons would be the heirs to the family fortunes, if any. In Capulets case Juliet was his one and only child so Tybalt would have been the one that would inherit the money when Capulet dies. The purpose of this essay is to show how Capulet change of mood is shown through the words he uses.
Also how Juliet and Capulet’s relationship changes and how this is shown through Shakespeare’s use of language in act 3 scene 5. In the beginning of act 3 scene 5 the audience view Juliet and Romeo part from each other, this makes Juliet upset. When Juliet talks with her mother, lady Capulet, Juliet cannot hide her emotions, and she says aside (only the audience can hear what Juliet says) ‘God Pardon him! I do, with all my heart’ she is referring to Romeo and how she forgives him for what he did to her Cousin Tybalt. The audience are given evidence that Juliet is a forgiving person.
Before Capulet enters the scene the audience get an early impression of him as a father. Lady Capulet describes him as a caring father. The audience can tell this when she says ‘thou hast a careful father. ‘ By Shakespeare using this phrase ‘careful father’ the audience get an immediate impression of Capulet being caring towards Juliet and that they have a loving relationship. Just before Capulet enters the scene Lady Capulet informs Juliet that her father has arranged a marriage for Juliet with a ‘young and noble gentleman, The County Paris’ this forthcoming Thursday.
Juliet replies rebelliously ‘I will not marry yet’. Juliet follows on by saying ‘It shall be Romeo…. Rather than Paris. ‘ This is a double meaning. Lady Capulet thinks that she is so intent on not marrying Paris that she would rather marry the family enemy Romeo who murdered her cousin Tybalt. But the reason that Juliet doesn’t want to marry is because she is already married with Romeo. The audience can now understand that she is that much in love with Romeo she would rebel against her parents. In Elizabethan times not doing something as large as not marrying whom your parents tell you to was outrageous.
When Capulet finally enters the scene the audiences tension rise dramatically but he does not know of his wives conversation with his daughter yet. Juliet is still crying wildly so Capulet says ‘thou counterfeit’st a bark, a sea’ he is referring to Juliet’s body being a boat in a sea of her own tears. He also says ‘little body’ referring to Juliet and how in their relationship he still sees her as a little child, his little child. Capulet then goes on to say that if she carries on crying like this she ‘will overset,’ he means that if she doesn’t stop crying like this she will fall apart.
Shakespeare choice language doesn’t just tell the audience what Capulet means but he does it in an interesting way, he puts it in metaphors so the audience can interpret what he means on their own accord. Juliet being this upset and not telling her parents what’s wrong shows the audience that she does not trust her parents and that they don’t have an open relationship. The audience do not feel tense now because Capulet is calm. This shows that Capulet controls what is happening on stage.
Lady Capulet says something that would outrage audiences from Elizabethan times and modern times. I would the fool were married to her grave’ what lady Capulet means is simply that she is so annoyed with her disobeying daughter that she would rather Juliet were dead. When Lady Capulet tells Capulet that Juliet wont do as he says and wont marry Paris his mod of sympathy changes into a mood of fury. The audience can clearly feel the tension rising on stage when Capulet questions Juliet and asks Lady Capulet, ‘How! Will she none? Doth she not give us thanks? Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest. ‘ Capulet is basically asking how can she not marry him, don’t she thank us for finding her a worthy man.
Shakespeare shows Capulets annoyance really well by using short rhetorical questions and repeating words like ‘not. ‘ In Elizabethan times it was immensely rare for a daughter to refuse her fathers commands and it would’ve been common for him to enforce his decision on to her. It is now clear to Juliet and the audience that Capulet is very angry. Juliet knows that it is time that she has to start explaining about her refusal. Now Juliet is trying to avoid marrying Paris by saying that she hates Paris. Juliet explains that she is happy that they have done this deed out of love for her but she cannot marry someone she hates.
The audience know this when Juliet say’s ‘Not proud, you have; but thankful, that you have… But thankful even for hate, that is meant love. ‘ This shows that Juliet is a strong person and will not let her parent’s pressure get to her, but a bad daughter that will not listen to her parent’s guidance. The audience are the only ones apart from Juliet that understands why she cannot marry Paris, so they feel sympathetic towards her. Her parents don’t know about Juliet marrying Romeo, but even if they did they would be even angrier with her.
In Elizabethan times for a couple to be married without their parent’s consent was very uncommon. Capulet has now become impatient with his disobeying daughter. Shakespeare shows this by changing Capulets choice of vocabulary towards Juliet. Capulet starts by mimicking Juliet, ‘Proud … thank you… thank you not. ‘ The audience now see a childish side to Capulet. That view of Capulet by the audience quickly changes when he begins insulting Juliet. He refers to her as a ‘mistress minion’, which basically means a spoilt little madam.
I as a member of the audience become worried for Juliet when Capulet talks about Juliet being a traitor. The audience know this when Capulet says ‘But fettle your fine joints. ‘ In Elizabethan times traitors were dragged through the streets on a wooden frame to execution. Capulet also refers to Juliet as ‘baggage,’ this shows that he sees his daughter as something that is holding him down and that he’s disappointed. Shakespeare’s choice of vocabulary shows us that he wants Capulet to be interpreted as a person who believes if you’re not with him you’re against him as his enemy.
This also shows that Capulet is a stubborn person that will not listen to reason even from his own spouse. The audience are clearly shown that this situation has got out of control when Lady Capulet says to Capulet, ‘what, are you mad. ‘ Lady Capulet obviously thinks that her angry husband has taken this argument too far. This is in contrast to earlier when Lady Capulet showed no remorse towards Juliet. So far Shakespeare has put Juliet to come across as a strong person. This is contrast to now when Juliet is emotionally forced to go on to her knees to plead with her father.
This shows the audience that Capulet holds the power in the relationship and Juliet is his possession. As Juliet goes on her knees she desperately asks ‘hear me with patience, but to speak a word. ‘ Juliet is trying to just get her point of view across and she thinks the only way to do it to make Capulet think he’s in control so he is calmer and listens to her. This has the opposite effect and make Capulet even angrier. The audience feel sympathetic towards Juliet when Capulet says ‘get thee to church… or never look me in the face.
This is a large contrast in their relationship as father and daughter, at the beginning of this scene Capulet was caring towards Juliet and thought about her feeling but now he is saying he will disown her if she doesn’t marry Paris. Things take a turn for the worst when Capulet is threatening to hit Juliet. The audience know this when Capulet says ‘My fingers itch. ‘ This shows us that Capulet has good self control and is restraining him self from striking Juliet even though it would have been common for him to do so in the Elizabethan era.
In Shakespearian times rich families would usually employ a Nurse to look after their infant. A nurse would do all the motherly jobs such as breastfeeding. Juliet has had a Nurse since she can remember. Juliet sees her as a mother figure. Nurse must have feelings for Juliet as she goes against her employer and says ‘You are to blame, my lord, to rate her so. ‘ This does not help it makes Capulet even angrier. One of his employees telling him how to raise his own child, in Elizabethan times this was suicide for a worker.
Capulet replies back with ‘hold your tongue. Shakespeare shows Capulets annoyance really well by using a short expression. ‘O, God-I-godden. ‘ Lady Capulet has been a spectator like the audience through most of this ordeal. She only comes into the argument when Capulet is reaching blowing point. She thinks that Capulet has become ‘too hot’ and tells him this to him blatantly. Due to what his wife said, now Capulet feels like he needs to inform them why he reacted this badly to the incident. He explains that he has been spending ‘Day, night, hour, tide, work, play’ trying to find her a worthy match.
Then when he finally found a suitable person, Juliet wont marry him, ‘I cannot love, I am too young,’ says Capulet sarcastically. Capulet follows us on by saying ‘And you be mine, ill give you to my friend. ‘ Again the audience see a controlling side of Capulet. Now their relationship has come to a dramatic end, the audience know this when Capulet says ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets. ‘ When Capulet finally exits the audience are given the impression that he is not just exiting from the room but exiting from Juliet’s life.
The audience are given this impression by the language Shakespeare uses just before Capulet exits. Capulet says ‘by my soul, Ill ne’er acknowledge thee. ‘ As the biggest source of power has left Juliet she now turns to the second biggest source of power, Lady Capulet. She asks her mother to ‘Delay this marriage for a month, a week. ‘ Juliet obviously feels like she needs time to think. Now Juliet threatens to commit suicide if her mother does not help her. The audience know this when Juliet says ‘if you do not, make the bridal bed in that dim monument where Tybalt lies.’
Lady Capulet has the same response as her husband. Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word,’ this shows that Lady Capulets loyalties lie with her husband over her daughter. When lady Capulet exits the audience get the same impression as when Capulet exited, the impression that she has exited from Juliet’s life. This is show through Shakespeare choice of language, when Lady Capulet says ‘I have done with thee. ‘ This vocabulary shows that Lady Capulet is finished with Juliet. With both of her parents abandoning her Juliet now turns to her trusty Nurse for advice, as she is the only one that knows about Romeo and has helped her marry him.
This in contrast to what Juliet gets. Nurse agrees with Juliet’s parents. She was the one that helped Juliet marry Romeo but now she is saying that she should do what her parents command and marry Paris. The audience know this through the language Shakespeare uses. Nurse compares Paris and Romeo, ‘Romeo’s a dishclout to him. ‘ Shakespeare’s compares Romeo to being a dishrag compared to Paris. It is clear that this is not what Juliet expected and wanted to hear.
This is shown through the language Shakespeare use. The audience know this when Juliet says sarcastically ‘thou hast comforted me marvellous much. Juliet now knowing that she wont get no help from Nurse, she orders her to tell her mother that she is going to Friar Lawrence to make a confession. Juliet says the reason she is going to Friar Lawrence is because ‘displeased my father. ‘ The audience know that it was friar Lawrence that wedded Romeo and Juliet so the audience might get the impression that she is going there for another reason and not for a confession. When Nurse leaves, the audience get the impression that Nurse like Capulet and Lady Capulet is leaving Juliet’s life forever.
The audience get this impression by the language Juliet uses before Nurse leaves. Obviously there is a huge gap between Elizabethan times and the modern era that we are in. Juliet is nearly fourteen and it is common for her to get married at this age in Elizabethan times, in modern times this would be uncommon and/or against the law in some countries. Elizabethan times the audience would have probably agreed that Juliet should marry Paris because he is rich and powerful but in modern times marriage usually occurs because of love so they would probably think that Capulet is wrong to force Juliet to marry Paris.
Some parts of the play the different eras of audiences would react differently some parts they might react the same. My personal response to the scene is sympathy. I feel sympathetic towards Juliet because she is going through a very bad ordeal and know seems to help her or understand her. I also feel sympathetic towards Capulet because his nephew has just died and he’s been working hard top find his daughter a worthy person and when he finally finds one he has had it thrown back in his face.
I think the message that Shakespeare and the play he has written is giving is that fighting always leads to pain. If there were no fighting between the Capulets and the Montagues Tybalt would have not been killed. If there were no fighting between the Capulets and the Montagues Romeo and Juliet would have probably been able to marry with their parents blessing as both families are of equal wealth and power. I think this message is still relevant and will always be relevant no matter what time in history.