Focus Examine The Role of Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet

Categories: Romeo And Juliet

In the early scenes Lord Capulet was shown as the head of his family and although elderly wanting to keep the feud between his family and the Montagues going. The prologue tells us that the feud was "an ancient grudge" but no one seemed to remember how the feud began. As a father, in Act 1 scene 2, he was initially unusually kind and understanding of the feelings of his daughter Juliet , but later in Act 3 scene V we see a different much tougher side to him when he insists his daughter obeys him or be disowned.

This tough treatment of his daughter probably led to the tragedy of the play and the suicide of his daughter.

Lord Capulet is from a noble household , rich and respected and his position in society explains some of his actions. We know he is elderly because his wife says in Act 1 scene 1 when he calls for a sword " a crutch, a crutch; why call you for a sword ?" This tells us that she is realistic about his age and health and knows he should not take part in a fight.

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As the speech was said in a mocking tone she was laughing at her husband rather than being frightened for him. The marriage is obviously not a love match and she probably finds being married to an older man unsatisfactory. Not only is Capulet's relationship with his wife distant, because she is much younger than him, less than thirty, which we know because she says in Act 1 scene 3 that she was younger than Juliet when she gave birth to her but they obviously do not discuss with each other their daughter's needs or feelings about their plans to marry her to Paris.

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To audiences in 21st century England arranging a marriage for a daughter, especially one who is only thirteen is quite shocking but it was normal for a man to do this in Shakespeare's time. Most of the behaviour Shakespeare gives to Capulet would have been accepted as normal by an audience when it was first performed and it seems shocking to us mainly because times have changed and everyone has more individual freedom today.

From the beginning of the play we see that Lord Capulet has very changeable moods and it is difficult to predict how he will react in any situation. When we first met Capulet in Act 1 scene 1 he was behaving like a silly old man and had to be restrained by Lady Capulet and then suffered some humiliation after Prince Escalus said both to him and Lord Montague that " if ever you disturb our streets again Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace". We learn that this street fighting was not the first occasion that the feud had turned to violence and "old Capulet and Montague have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets"

The reasonable side of his character was first shown in his advice to Paris in Act 1 scene 2 when he asks to marry Juliet. Capulet gives several pieces of good advice to Paris. He tells him that although he thinks Paris should wait and " let two more summers wither in their pride ere we may think her ripe to be a bride" he has no objection to the marriage. He tells Paris he should "woo her ... get her heart" , for if Juliet fell in love with him and that would make life easier for everyone. The second piece of good advice was that he invites Paris to the masked ball he is giving that evening and tells him to look at all the ladies present and compare them to Juliet to make sure she is the person he wants to marry. In times when marriage was seen mainly as a financial contract to enhance a family's status this advice seems sentimental and very modern.

Capulet's reasonable side is also shown at his masked ball in Act 1 scene 5 . Here he is a welcoming host even when his nephew Tybalt wants to throw Romeo out when he discovers he is a Montague and a gate crasher. Capulet tells Tybalt to "let him alone" alone as long as he causes no trouble. Capulet says that he'd heard that "Verona bragged of him to be a virtuous and well-governed youth". This shows that Capulet was capable of thinking that not all Montagues were bad people and should be killed. In his own home,Capulet, in contrast to Tybalt, is relaxed and doesn't want any trouble.

Later, after the death of Tybalt he reverts more to the stereotype of the head of a household with complete power over his family, worried about what his contemporaries might think of him and little concern for the personal happiness of his daughter.

In Act 3 scene 5 Capulet's attitude to his daughter is completely changed and although shocking to a modern audience it is more realistic behaviour for a father in those times. Having said in Act 1 scene 2 that "she is the hopeful lady of my earth" and precious to him and as his only living child after the "earth had swallowed all his hopes" he now says unless she does exactly as he says he will disown her completely.

We see the violence of his personalty which is always close to the surface in his tough and very insulting words . He calls her "a baggage", a "disobedient wretch" and says he and Lady Capulet "have a curse in having her". He leaves Juliet with few options when he says "I'll give you to my friend: and you be not, hang!Beg!Sstarve! Die in the streets! For by my soul I'll never acknowledge thee, nor what is mine shall never do thee good. Trust to't, bethink you. I'll not be forsworn". Having made it clear he won't help her in any way either in his lifetime or leave her a penny in his will he even has to stop himself from hitting her such is his frustration at her refusal to obey his wishes and marry Paris immediately.

We can have some sympathy with Capulet because the circumstances of the death of his nephew Tybalt has brought some shame on his family and he realizes that Paris might change his mind about marrying Juliet. Paris is a good match for Juliet and Capulet feels he must act quickly or lose Paris. Given that the family are in mourning and shamed Capulet knows he can't now have a big wedding for his daughter which would enhance his status so in his panic he thinks an immediate quiet wedding would be the best course of action. It might be best for him but would not have been fair for his daughter.

The ironic fact is that, unknown to Capulet, Juliet has already married Romeo and nothing her father says is going to make any difference. Although the audience know that Juliet has betrayed her family by her marriage to Romeo and there is no chance of her family ever accepting her actions there is still a sense of shock at the violence of the language Capulet uses on Juliet and the threats he makes.

Lord Capulet's role in the play is a traditional one . He is male and head of his household and more important than any woman in his family. He has almost godlike powers over the members of his household. We see him in varied situations so Shakespeare allows us to see more of his character than we see of his wife. She might have given some help to Juliet by appealing to her husband to be kind to their only child but she has no sypathy with her daughter. She thinks that because she has suffered by having to marry too young her daughter should have the same unhappiness. It is a cruel way for a mother to behave. There is no evidence that Lord Capulet would have listened to his wife.

There is a twist in this play because we know from the beginning what the outcome will be and nothing that Lord Capulet says can change this. On the other hand once Juliet had decided to marry an enemy of the family and a murderer she chose her own fate. However much Capulet was a loving father and even if he had wanted to forgive his daughter andaccept she had chosen her own husband he would have been unable to do this. The society that Capulet lived in would not have accepted such an outcome. Family pride and family honour, especially for men was the most important thing in their lives and came before even the happiness of a daughter. It was generally accepted that a daughter had to be obedient to her father's wishes or suffer the consequences.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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 Focus Examine The Role of Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

 Focus Examine The Role of Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet essay
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