Romeo and Juliet is one of the most moving love stories ever written. The tale of young Juliet, her secret husband Romeo, and the tragedy which overtakes them has been admired by theatre goers for centuries. Much of the play’s appeal comes from the problems which Romeo and Juliet face from being with each other. Scenes, containing further plot twists increase the tension of the play and heighten the intensity of the final scenes. One scene which does just that is Act 3 Scene 5.
This scene is pivotal to the play in many ways. At the start of the scene Romeo bids farewell to Juliet and flees the city. This is important as without the seperation Romeo would never have received an inaccurate message. Therefore he would have known the truth about Juliet’s ‘death’ and so would not have killed himself. The play would then not have its climactic finale, nor have such a memorable conclusion.
This scene is also where Juliet first finds out her parent’s plans to marry her to Paris. When Lady Capulet first begins to talk of a joyful event Juliet is pleased and excited, for as Juliet says ‘joy comes well in such a needy time’ and wishes to have more details, ‘what day is that?’ However, when it is revealed that this happy event is her marriage to Paris, her mood changes completely, ‘he shall not make me there a joyful bride’. This is important as it shows the change in Juliet’s attitude from a girl willing to obey her family’s commands, to being shocked at the speed of a marriage which has been arranged without her knowledge, ‘I wonder at this haste’.
This is important to the play as it reveals a huge, seemingly insurmountable problem. Juliet has now been put into an extremely awkward position. She has no wish to marry Paris, on top of which she is already married. It would be against the law to marry one man when she is already wed to another. However, if she told her parents the truth they would kill Romeo in revenge. Juliet loves Romeo too much to betray him in that way.
Before the talk of marrying Paris came up the story seems fairly assured of a happy ending. Now the future of the two lovers is in crisis. Without this scene the play would have been much shorter and more predictable. It changes the focus of the play instantly from a simple tale of two lovers to a desperate search by Juliet to avoid the marriage without earning the disapproval her father threatened, ‘get thee to the church o’Thursday or never after look me in the face’.
In Juliet’s search for a solution she first turns to her nurse. Juliet wishes her nurse to comfort her and give her an answer, as she has always done before. But the nurse has no solution Juliet will accept. She advises Juliet that ‘I think you are happy in this second match’, and tells her that ‘your first is dead – or t’were as good he were’. This is important to the play as Juliet now realises she will get no help from any of the people around her. Her close relationship with her nurse is severed as Juliet vows, ‘thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain’. Juliet no longer has her nurse to confide in, which complicates her situation and makes it harder to find a solution.
This scene is an integral part of the play. In it the plot becomes more complicated and we discover the full implications of what Juliet has done, by wedding Romeo she cannnot marry the man her parents have chosen. It also ends Romeo and Juliet’s love scenes. It can be seen as their farewell, for they will never talk together again. The scene also adds to the complexity of Juliet’s problem. Whereas before she could always rely on her nurse for support, she is now completely alone. This increases the tension, as Juliet frantically tries to think of a workable solution. Without this scene there would be no tension and less emotion in the remainder of the play. The ending would be happy, thus reducing the play to a simple, forgettable, love story.
Another important change in character attitudes occurs during this scene. Capulet and Juliets father-daughter relationship changes irrevocably in this scene. When we first meet Capulet he is worried about Juliet and does not want her rushed into marriage. When Paris expresses an interest in marrying Juliet, Capulet says that ‘let two more summers wither in their pride, ere we may think her ripe to be a bride’. Capulet is very proud of his daughter and thinks ‘she is the hopeful lady of the earth’.This shows how much Capulet loves and cares for his daughter. He is very proud of her beauty and does not wish her to get married unless she is wooed, and Paris does ‘get her heart’. He also believes that his ‘will to her consent is but a part’. Capulet thinks that Juliet’s consent is more important that what he wants for her himself.
This is due to the fact that Juliet has always been a good and obedient child. Capulet has no fears that she would refuse someone he picked, so it is safe to make promises which rely on her co-operation. When Capulet finds out of Juliet’s refusal in Act 3 Scene 5, he is as much shocked as angry at first, ‘How? Will she have none? Doth she not give us thanks? Is she not proud?’ He does not think that she would truly disobey him in such a thing. When Juliet repeats her refusal he becomes more angry and begins to call her names like ‘Mistress minion’.
Not only is Capulet angry but he must also be a little scared. If Juliet got her way and did not marry Paris then Capulet would be the laughing stock of the town and his reputation would be in ruins. This could be the cause of the ferocity of his threats, when he tells Juliet ‘to go with Paris to Saint Peters church, or I will drag thee on a hurdle hither’. He also begins to insult her more, calling her a ‘tallow face’, and a ‘green-sickness carrion’.
Juliet still loves her father and does not wish to do anything which upsets him. She hopes that he will respect her wishes and be the caring father he has always been. She desperately tries to get him to see her point of view by begging to him, ‘Good father, I beseech you on my knees.’ How ever Capulet is now extremely upset with Juliet. He does not understand why she is disobeying him, when she has always been so obedient in the past. Now, instead of being ‘my child’, she is a ‘disobedient wretch’. Capulet still believes this is just childish stubborness, so repeats his threats in the hope of getting Juliet to realise the mistake she is making by refusing. Capulet would have known how much Juliet loved him, so threatening to withdraw his love is one of his most effective threats, ‘get thee to the church o’ Thursday, or never after look me in the face’.
It is possible to sympathise with Capulet in this scene. He obviously cares for his daughter’s happiness but feels he cannot back down over the marriage as he has already promised Paris that Juliet shall be his. Capulet does not know of Julie’ts marriage to Romeo and cannot see any problem with Paris, calling him ‘a gentleman of noble parentage’.
By the end of the scene Capulet has delivered his final ultimation to Juliet. Either she marries Paris, or she is free to ‘hang, beg, starve, die in the streets’.This shows how much their relaionship has changed. From being Capulet’s only child, who he cared deeply about, Juliet has caused him to turn against her. Though he may still love her he cannot show it as she has disobeyed him. Juliet still loves her father but is now trying to think of a way out of the marriage. We can tell that Juliet does not wish to displease her father as she has not totally refused Paris’s offer and been disowned like Capulet threatened. Instead she is trying to find a way around it without upsetting her father any more than is possible.