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In Juliet’s monologue from act 4 scene 3, it is the night before Juliet seals her marriage with Paris. She orders the Nurse and her mother to leave her room, and tries to pluck up the courage to drink the potion the Friar gave her. But ominous fears and dread fills her mind, and she hesitates, considering all the what-ifs and worst possibilities. But her love for Romeo is stronger then her fears, and she musters up the courage to drink the potion that is the only key to living happily with Romeo. In this passage, through the diction, imagery, and through the content itself, we see an individual person who is no longer timid, has deep feelings and fears, and has a mind of her own that is no longer obedient to her parents’ orders.
In this passage, Shakespeare uses vivid imagery to help illustrate Juliet’s terror of the vault. She paints a vivid image for us, a place where “for many hundred years the bones of all my buried ancestors are packed.” Instead of referring to her cousin as simply being dead, he is “bloody”, “fest’ring”, and “mangled in his shroud”. “Loathsome smells”, “shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth”, and “hideous fears” all demonstrate the terror of the place that is almost unimaginable until she describes it in such vivid detail. Her greatest fear seems to be that she will lose her mind and go insane, and we are able to see this, since she describes herself “madly playing with [her] forefathers’ joints” and “as with a club, dash out [her] desp’rate brains.” This terror shows how much depth she has gained in her emotions compared to the beginning of the play, when she had no strong feelings, but rather would readily obey her parent’s commands.
Through Shakespeare’s use of diction, we can see how Juliet is no longer timid. Throughout her monologue, she uses intense, passionate, and sometimes gory words such as “bloody”, “hideous”, “rage”, ‘terror”, “shrieks”, and “death” that reveals the depth of her feelings and terror. At the beginning of the play, she did not show strong and powerful emotions; her feelings were less apparent. But now her choice of words demonstrate individual concerns and the emergence of a woman who has more depth of her feelings and terror, revealing a different emotional state compared to before she met Romeo.
As we look at the content of the passage, we see how she has her own perspective and doubts that she would not have had at the beginning of the play. Some of her worries include betrayal, going insane, and death; she fears the Friar gave her a poison, she might wake up too early and be strangled from lack of air, or she might sucumb to insanity alone in the vault. For example, at the beginning of the play she would have blindly trusted the Friar if he were to give her the potion. But now she doubts his loyalty and wonders if he betrayed her by giving her a poison instead. These thoughts and worries show that she is no longer is like a trusting child who thinks everything will turn out alright in the end, but has individual thinking and ponders everything that could go wrong.
Throughout the play, Juliet changes from an innocent girl who is timid and naive to a young woman with strong emotions, concerns, and a mind of her own. She has matured, and is no longer obedient or trusting to her father or the Nurse. She has taken life into her own hands by confronting her fears, facing the odds, and in the end, risking her life by drinking the potion that she hopes will save her from being forever apart from Romeo.