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At the start of the play Juliet is a Capulet and she is quite a gentle person and she is a sweet young girl but when the story progresses she meets a young boy called Romeo and she immediately falls in love with him. When she finds out that Romeo is part of the rival family of Montagues and her character changes from someone who is loyal to someone who is self determined and eventually sacrifices her life for her love.
My first impression of Juliet is that she is not at all close to her mother but she is respectful to her and she will obey her, this suggests that she obeys authority, she knows her place. You can tell that she is very shy of marriage as she says on line 66, ‘It is an honour I dream not of’ Being a young lady, she expects perhaps that it is her destiny, but she does not desire it.
However, her mother asks her to look at Paris with a view to marrying him at the Capulet ball. Juliet out of respect for her mother agrees “I’ll look to like, if looking liking move. But no more deep will I endart mine eye than your consent gives strength to make it fly.”
Romeo is attracted to Juliet because of her beauty as he says several lines about how beautiful she is ‘Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear’ and ‘It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night’.
However, the audience don’t necessarily trust Romeo’s love as when we first meet him he is desperately in love with Rosaline. The audience therefore may be concerned for Juliet. Juliet uses her knowledge of religion to bring Romeo to kiss her without losing modesty. Romeo refers to Juliet as her saint and Juliet refers to Romeo as a “good pilgrim”. Juliet explains to Romeo that pilgrims were called palmers because they carried a palm when they returned from their pilgrimage. She tells them that their greeting involved touching palms “palm to palm is holy palmers kiss’. Romeo asks if saints and palmers have lips. Juliet tells them that they do. He then says “let lips do what hands do”. This language that she is using suggests to the audience that she is very clever how she plays with words to impress Romeo.
Juliet obviously really likes Romeo and she shows this by using passionate dialogue and desiring to kiss him. She leads Romeo on and she does this by using a more religious type of loving words to seduce him, ‘Then have my lips the sin that they have took’ after Romeo had said “Thus from mine lips, be thine, my sin is purged”.
The relationship changes between Romeo and Juliet in their next meeting in the balcony scene because they now want to get married and they agree that they are willing to give up their family names because they love each other so much as it says on line 34 ‘Deny thy father and refuse thy name’.
It was unusual for Juliet to behave as she did because most women are obedient to their mothers and their fathers and would do practically anything for them, but because of her love for Romeo, Juliet was prepared to forget about her family name so she could be with Romeo as it says in lines 35 – 36 ‘Or if thou wilt not be but sworn my love and I’ll no longer be a Capulet’
After the balcony scene I think that Juliet feels very excited and that she can’t wait until the next day to hear from Romeo again but she wishes that she could spend the night with Romeo but Juliet knows about the dangers that are involved if this she does this “If they do see they will murder thee”. Juliet is impatient and needs to be certain that Romeo loves her. She asks him to speak plainly and confess his love in simple words “O swear not by the moon, th’inconsistant moon that monthly changes in her circled orb lest than thy love prove likewise variable.”
Juliet’s language in the play is very different to the men, as Juliet’s lines tend to be more direct, vivid and penetrating. Her words create much more dramatic interest as they are full of knowledge and imagery ‘My only love sprung from my only hate, too early seen unknown and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me that I must love a loathed enemy’. Whereas the men in the play speak with a more violent and fiery approach – ‘What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee coward!’ The men are comic characters and use drawn out exaggerated language.
Romeo leaves Juliet’s balcony without having arranged a time and a place to meet to be married. Therefore, Juliet sends the nurse to make arrangements with Romeo. As Juliet waits for the news you can tell that she feels very anxious and worried that the nurse had not returned with the news ‘The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse; In half an hour she promised to return’. When the nurse gets back, Juliet is dying to hear the news but the nurse withholds the news from her, Juliet becomes impatient “Nay come I pray thee speak, good, good Nurse speak”.
The secrecy of the wedding adds to the dramatic impact because only a few people know about the wedding and not even their parents now about the wedding, which adds to the dramatic interest.
Romeo gets into a fight with Juliet’s beloved cousin, Tybalt and Romeo kill’s Tybalt and when Juliet first finds out about it she is very upset, which can be understood as he was her cousin but then when she finds out that Romeo killed him she is even more worried that Romeo might have been killed as well ‘Is Romeo slaughtered? And Tybalt dead? My dearest cousin, and my dearer lord?’ But then she finds out that Romeo is banished but he is still alive, but she is still very upset however she manages to cope with it.
When Juliet is ordered to marry Paris she obviously is not willing to go through with the marriage and she asks her mother to delay the wedding ‘Delay this marriage for a month, a week’.
She also mentions that if it is not delayed she would rather die than go through with it ‘Or if you do not, make the bridal bed in that dim monument where Tybalt lies’.
Juliet goes to the friar because she has been ordered to marry Paris when she has already got married to Romeo and she is worried about what she will do. When the Friar tells Juliet about the plan she is very excited and she wants it right away and she doesn’t care about the risks ‘Give me, give me. O tell not me of fear’. The plan is that Juliet will drink the poison and people will think that she is dead but she will wake up, hopefully to see Romeo and Friar Lawrence in 48 hours. We know that she is very keen on taking the poison as she says ‘Give me, give me, O tell not me of fear’ We know that Juliet is willing to take the poison because she said that she would rather die than be married to Paris ‘I long to die, if what thou speak’st speak not of remedy’. This tells us that Juliet is totally determined that she is not going to go through with the wedding with Paris and she will do anything to stop it taking place including taking a potion that she is not absolutely confident that it will work. It tells the audience that she would rather die than not be with Romeo.
Shakespeare uses dramatic irony in this scene. Juliet knows about the plan she is acting like she really wants to get married to Paris, and all the other characters in the play, apart from Friar Lawrence don’t know about the plan. ‘Nurse will you go with me into my closet, to help me sort such needful ornaments as you think fit furnish me tomorrow’.
Juliet is using this wedding to her advantage and she is being very manipulative and cunning because she knows that she won’t be going through with the wedding so she is acting like she really wants to marry Paris and it is almost like she is rubbing it in her parent’s faces ‘Pardon I beseech you, henceforward I am ever ruled by you’.
The dramatic interest for the audience is that they know that Juliet has no intention of getting married to Paris and the audience are starting to think that she is not a very nice character because she is manipulating her parents, however at the same time they are glad for Juliet because she is already married to Romeo and she would rather die than get married to Paris.
Just before she takes the poison Juliet starts having doubts. First she starts to think that it might not work and she is frightened that she will wake up the next morning on her wedding day and have to get married to Paris ‘What if this mixture do not work at all? Shall I be married then tomorrow morning’. Then she thinks that the poison that she had been given actually kills her ‘What if it be a poison which the Friar subtly hath ministered to have me dead’. She then thinks that the friar might have given her a poison which kills her to protect his reputation ‘Lest in this marriage he should be dishonoured, because he married me before to Romeo?’. Then at the end of the scene she drinks the potion and says ‘Romeo! Romeo! Romeo! I drink to thee’.
The audience are now fearing for Juliet’s life because they are now starting to think what if Juliet is about to die or what if it doesn’t work and the audience now really don’t want her to take it because she might die and at the end of the scene when she finally takes it the audience are slightly shocked and worried for her. It is a dramatic climax to the scene.
When she wakes up in the tomb and sees Friar Lawrence and not Romeo she asks immediately where Romeo is and when she finds him next to her dead she does nothing else but try and kill herself ‘I will kiss thy lips; haply some poison yet doth hang on them’. I think that there is a lot to admire about Juliet as she faces death in this scene because as soon as she wakes up and finds Romeo dead she is determined to kill herself and she doesn’t appear to be scared and she just kills herself saying these last words ‘This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die’.
I think that Shakespeare made Juliet’s death speech much shorter than Romeo’s because her death is a foregone conclusion. The audience by this stage know Juliet so well, the fact that she has so few words has a greater impact on the audience ‘This is thy sheath; there rest, and let me die’.
In my own opinions I think that Juliet’s character has changed dramatically from the start of the play when she was just a young girl who obeyed her mother and father. Juliet was not really interested in love but then she met Romeo and her whole life changed around and she changed from an innocent little girl into a mature lady. Some of the speeches that were coming out of Juliet as she met Romeo were very Romantic, poetic and religious in some cases, this created a picture in my head of what Juliet was like.
Throughout the play most of the characters thought of Juliet as a polite young girl who always obeyed her parents and none of the characters thought that she was going behind her parents back to purposely marry Paris. I feel that both of the films portrayed her powerfully because I think it was very clever and powerful how she took the poison even though it could have killed her or not worked and she didn’t even think twice about killed herself.
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