Presented in Romeo and Juliet Essay
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During the Play of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare portrays a very strong relationship between Juliet and her father, Lord Capulet. His initial attitude shows him as a caring, protective father who wants what is best for his daughter. This caring manner continues until Scene 5 of Act 3, in which Juliet defies her father, who wishes for her to marry the County Paris. This scene acts as a turning point in the play; Lord Capulet is now shown as a malevolent father who has his own intentions for his daughter’s future.
However, when Juliet returns apologetically to her father, and agrees to marry Paris, he once again returns to being the loving and caring father we initially identified.
Lord Capulet’s initial attitude to his daughter was generally kind and compassionate. He calls her his ‘hopeful lady of my earth’ which implies that he expects her to do well for herself. We see him as a typical father late in the 16th Century. It was commonplace for fathers to be in charge of who their daughter married, and Lord Capulet decided that Paris, a handsome, wealthy kinsman to the prince, would be able to provide for his daughter’s future. Lord Capulet is very protective over Juliet, he does not think she is ‘ripe to be a bride’ because she is ‘yet a stranger to the world’ and ‘hath not seen the change of fourteen years’. This prominently reminds us of both Lord Capulet’s protectiveness, and the ongoing theme of youth and age throughout the play.
The point at which Lord Capulet ceases from acting behind the caring faï¿½ade come in Scene 5 of Act 3 in the play. Juliet refuses to marry Paris when her mother tells her that they have arranged her marriage. Juliet, who is secretly already married to Romeo, cannot go ahead with the marriage to Paris, and she tells her mother that she is not ready to be married so soon after Tybalt’s death.
Although upset, her mother does not overreact to this situation, and it is only when her father enters that the situation becomes overwhelming. He shouts at her, is unpleasant towards her, and threatens to disown her if she does not do as he says. Lady Capulet is then drawn into more of a quarrelsome situation with her daughter, her line ‘Fie, fie! what, are you mad?’ could be interpreted either as directed towards her husband or Juliet. It would seem that it was towards her husband as later in the scene she says to Lord Capulet ‘You are too hot’, which indicates that he is becoming too aggressive and malicious to his own daughter.
This would suggest that Lord Capulet has a very influential personality, and he is able to get other people to do what he wants them to because of his authority, and their fear of what he will say if they, like Juliet did, refuse to co-operate. Lord Capulet’s view of a daughter is that they are almost like property, who should be married to a handsome and wealthy gentleman when they are old enough to take on this responsibility.
It was usual for this to happen, and so was not treated with the same scepticism as today. In one of Paris’ meetings with Lord Capulet he tells him that ‘younger than she are happy mothers made’. This implies that girls who are younger than Juliet are not only already married, but mothers as well. Even when her own mother asks her about marriage, she says it is ‘an honour I dream not of’, suggesting she does not feel ready for marriage, even when her mother reminds us that ‘younger than you … are already made mothers’. Generally, Lord Capulet does care for his daughter, but does not respect her wishes and opinions as we would expect in today’s modern society.
Capulet’s anger at Juliet’s defiance was the first point when we saw another side to him. He returns to being the gentle father only when Juliet comes to apologise to him. She tells him she has been at confession and has come to accept the offer of marriage from Paris. Her father then becomes the agreeable jovial character we first knew. His angry personality is only evident if things are not going in according with his plans, or Juliet is disobedient to him; he is almost like a spoilt child who does not like it when he does not get what he wants.
When Juliet appears to be dead in Scene 5 of Act 4, Capulet seems to be devastated. He states that death ‘lies on her like an untimely frost’ which to all the other people on stage is accepted as a genuine comment from a grieving father. Alternatively, this could have been interpreted as another selfish comment; the use of the word ‘untimely’ emphasising the inconvenience of it to his plans. Capulet is once again being slightly selfish, he feels as though he has lost a daughter, rather than his daughter has lost her life, and he is worrying about how it will affect him instead of grieving for her.
At the end of the play when Friar Lawrence Tells everyone the truth about the events through the play, I think Lord Capulet realises how narrow-minded he has been. He recognises that he has not treated his daughter with the respect she needed, and is aware that she had to marry Romeo secretly because he would never have agreed to it. It is this recognition of the error of his ways that leaves the audience feeling that Lord Capulet is a good father. He acts upon what he has learnt straight away by calling Lord Montague his ‘brother’, and asking him to ‘give me thy hand’ to help them reach a better understanding.
Behind Lord Capulet’s capricious faade, we see a father who cares for his daughter, but does not always know how to show it. His unpredictable nature was due to this, and it is not until the end of the play when the ‘true’ Lord Capulet is revealed. He shows remorse towards the death of his daughter and Romeo also, and looks towards the Montagues to help each other in grieving for their children by settling the dispute between the families. Overall, Capulet is a good father to Juliet, but his influential position makes him feel under constant pressure to do what is right; both for his daughter and his image to the rest of the Capulets.