When Shakespeare wrote the play it was normal for the father in the family to arrange a marriage for their daughters and could even force them to get married. The higher in society you were the less chance you would have had on choosing whom you wished to marry. Whereas nowadays you arrange your marriage between yourself and your partner. It seems to matter to Lord Capulet who Juliet marries and he wants her to be happy. He is pleased with Paris as he is related to the prince so they will be able to form an alliance, and he seems an honourable man.
The age of Juliet was a normal age to consider marriage Paris says
“younger than she are happy mothers made”
and it was usual for a girl of thirteen to marry someone older such as nineteen or older. This was because marriage was about the money and social arrangements rather than love.
In act one scene three, Shakespeare has all three women characters together.
Although you have seen lady Capulet before this is the scene you see her character properly. This scene is where lady Capulet is telling Juliet to start thinking about marriage. Lady Capulet says
“Nurse, give leave a while,
We must talk in secret. Nurse, come back again,
I have remembered me thou’s hear our counsel.”
this is because she realises that the nurse is very close to Juliet. Lady Capulet however does not seem to be close to Juliet. The language that Shakespeare has written Lady Caplets dialogue is very formal.
“Tell them daughter Juliet how stands your disposition to be married?”
she does not talk about Juliet’s feelings and looks towards marriage. The way lady Capulet sees love is as a social arrangement and not for love, this was an aspect of that time and what a lot of parents probably thought. Lady Capulet said
“I was your mother much apon these years”
which shows she was only young and thinks she should have already thought about it. Although she seems distant from Juliet Shakespeare has written Lord Capulets character as a contrast to Lady Caplets character. He seems to care about Juliets feelings and only wants her to be happy in life. He says
“but woo her gentle Paris, get her heart”
this shows how he wants Juliet to love him first. This may be because Juliet is his only child.
“And too soon married are those so early made,
Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she”
Shakespeare is saying here that lady Capulet and lord Capulet were married young and lady Capulet had had Juliet to young and it must have damaged her so they could have no more children. Maybe this is why lady Capulet feels that marriage if for the family as she herself may have been forced into marrying Lord Capulet.
Shakespeare uses the nurse to show a more humorous physical side to love. In this scene she has a joking approach and starts reminiscing about when Juliet was a young child. She is close to Juliet and sees her as her own daughter. She is a very talkative out going character. She interrupts lady Capulet a lot and tells inappropriate bawdy jokes. The way she looks on love is different maybe this is because she seems to have loved her husband who had died years before, she repeats jokes that he had said
” dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou has more wit”
and sees love only as a physical relationship. She is very amused that Juliet is growing up and getting more feelings towards the opposite sex. But she keeps the humour going throughout this scene. She says
” no less! Nay, bigger women grow by men”
meaning they get the pregnant.
Juliet in this scene shows how young and innocent she is. And she does not know of love and sees it as her mother does, as this is all she knows of.
” It is an honour that I dream not of”
Juliet says, because she has not thought about it yet. She does not know how overpowering love can be. She says
” I’ll look to like, if looking liking move;
but no more deep will I endart mine eye.
That your consent gives strength to make it fly”
she is saying she will only love him if she is told to. Which shows she has not yet been brought out into the world. She comes over in this scene as the very obedient daughter.
In the scene at the Caplets party, is where Romeo and Juliet first meet Romeo treats her with respect and she starts to realise that love overpowers you. She finds him respectful and amusing. He tricks her into two kisses; she seems very fond of this. When the party is ending she wishes to know whom she was talking to she slyly asks who he is by asking for other names first. She says
“if he be married my grave is like to be my wedding be”
she already thinks she will not be able to live without him. But when she finds out he is a Montague she thinks she has no chance with him she says .
” my only love sprung from my only hate.”
She still thinks he is wonderful.
The next scene is the famous balcony scene. This is like Juliet’s soliloquy because she is talking to herself and does not know Romeo is there. She says
“deny thy father and refuse thy name;
or if though wilt not, be sworn my love
Aand I’ll no longer be a Capulet”
here she is saying she loves him so much that she will no longer be a Capulet if he will not deny he is a Montague. When Romeo comes forward she is already worried of his safety when she says
“the orchard walls are hard to climb,
And the place of death, considering who thou art,
If any kinsmen find thee here.”
But he obviously feels the same for Juliet, but she herself is not yet sure if he does. She is worried that she has told him that she loves him too soon and it is too quick as a woman in Shakespeare days around the 15th century was meant to wait a while.
“If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully;
Or if thou think’st I am too quickly won”
Juliet is the first one to mention marriage and makes him swear he loves her.
Juliet tells the nurse about Romeo, and the nurse gets carried away with it as all she wants if for Juliet to be happy. Her loyalties should be towards lady Capulet as she has been hired by her but she loves Juliet too much. She goes to the market place to give Romeo a message they tease her and tell jokes. She tries to be a lady but she finds their jokes funny and can not help but laugh. She still sees this only as a physical relationship. Apart from one point were she shows she really does love Juliet and looks out for her she says
“if ye should lead her into fools
paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behaviour, as they
say; for the gentle woman is young; and therefore, if you should deal
double with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any
gentle woman, and very weak dealing.”
Juliet is very impatient waiting for the nurse to return and when she does the nurse jokes around to keep her waiting. The nurse says
” Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks,
They’ll be in scarlet straight at any news.
Hie you to church, I must another way,
To fetch a ladder, by the which your love
Must climb a bird’s nest soon when it is dark.
I am the drudge, ans toil in your delight;
But you shall bear the bruden soon at night.
Go, I’ll sinner, hie you to the cell”
this shows both Juliet feeling that she physically wants Romeo and shows her maturing. And the nurse again with her physical aspects of love, saying Juliet will enjoy the night.
The passion between Juliet and Romeo it the next scene is what makes friar Lawrence marry them as he thinks they will sleep together even if they are not married, which is against the church rules. When Juliet receives the news from the nurse about some one had been killed. He first thoughts were that is was Romeo. But when she finds out it was Romeo who killed Tybalt she is distraught. The nurse says
“give me some aqua-vitae;
these grief’s, these woes, these sorrows make me old.
Shame come to Romeo!”
when the nurse says that Juliet realises that she now must stand up for Romeo and deny her family name She says,
“but wherefor, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have killed my husband.
Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring,
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you mistaking offer up to joy.”
Lady Capulet comes to tell Juliet that she and Paris shall be wed soon. Juliet shows many different emotions in this scene starting with anger, then she becomes upset but then she realise she must be strong for her an Romeo to survive together. But Juliet refuses to but she has to fool her mother so she does not find out about Romeo. Juliet says
“I will not marry yet, and when I do, I swear,
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
Rather than Paris. These are news indeed.”
Usually you would expect a mother to be caring but when Juliet asks her to tell her father Lady Capulet says
“here comes your father, tell him so yourself;
and see how he will take it at your hands”
this shows she does not care for Juliet. She seems disgusted that Juliet does not obey her father. She only shows any sign of love when she tries to calm down lord Capulet and try and restrain him from hitting her when she says
” Fie, fie what, are you mad”.
Juliet begs for the wedding not to happen but lord Capulet said it would go ahead. The nurse seems to realise where her duties lie. She says to Juliet
” Romeo is banished, and all the world to nothing
that he dares ne’er come back to challenge you;
or if he do, it needs must be by stealth.”
Juliet now realises they only person that can help her now is friar Lawrence. And she I willing to do anything. Friar Lawrence tells her
” Hold then, go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris. Wednesday is tomorrow;
Tomorrow night look that thou lie alone
Let not the nurse lie with thee in thy chamber.
Take thou this vial, being then in bed
And this distilling liquor drink thou off”.
She will risk and take the potion she says
” love give me strength,
and strength shall help afford. Farewell, dear father.”
Juliet speaks in soliloquy just before taking the potion. This goes through her fears of taking the potion and her dying. Or waking up in the family tomb surrounded by the corpses
” an ancient receptacle,
Where for this many hundred years the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are packed,
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth”.
Just before she takes the potion she shows her love once again by making it as a toast to Romeo.
The final scene with Juliet in is when she wakes in the tomb to find Romeo dead by her side. He had died for her as she dies for him. She says
“poison I see hath been his timeless end.
O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop.”
She is so upset in the end she stabs her self with Romeo’s dagger she feels she cannot live without him and life is not worth living. Juliet went from being a sweet innocent girl not knowing of love to dying because she loved too much. I think the way Shakespeare wrote it he meant to show that it was too rushed and too passionate for it to last.
If I had to play one of the characters in the play I would play Juliet. She has a part full of confusion and different emotions. One if the scenes I would enjoy playing it the final scene where she dies. As she is very dramatic and very confused, and in love and various emotions all mixed up. The way Shakespeare would have done it I think would be set back in the inner stage which would be set up like a tomb, but if it were in a film they would be able to use a real tomb.