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How does Shakespeare shape the audience's response to Lady Capulet and the Nurse?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare shape the audience's response to Lady Capulet and the Nurse? In 'Romeo and Juliet', Shakespeare presents the audience with two very different but equally significant female characters. By the end of the play Juliet turns her back on both characters but due to Shakespeare's clever presentation of the characters, one the audience agrees with and one they do not. Shakespeare shapes the audience's response to Lady Capulet by creating a harsh, cold woman who shows little maternal feeling towards her daughter. However, more interesting is the presentation of the caring Nurse who, through her acts of maternal love towards Juliet, Shakespeare makes capture the audience's heart. The first, and possibly most effective, technique that Shakespeare uses to shape the audience's response is through speech and the lines he has written for the characters. Everything that the Nurse and Lady Capulet say is absorbed by the audience and is used when forming a response to their characters. Shakespeare has written the Nurse's speeches with much feeling and honesty and Lady Capulet's with a lot less. For example, in Act 1 Scene 3 the Nurse says, 'seek happy nights to happy days', whereas Lady Capulet says, 'Read o'er the volume of young Paris' face'. In using the word 'happy' twice, Shakespeare shows the audience that the Nurse's main concern is Juliet's happiness and feelings. Lady Capulet, however, instructs Juliet with no concern whatsoever to her feelings. Such precise word choice by Shakespeare influences the audience. An honest, loving character receives a warmer response than the character of Lady Capulet, who is not. Shakespeare keeps Lady Capulet as a very cold character in her speech in order to distance her from the audience and to prevent the audience from relating to or understanding the character as this may soften their response. Shakespeare uses humour to shape the audience's response to the Nurse. We see this the very first time that the audience meets her in Act 1 Scene 3 as her first line, ...read more.

Middle

We see that although language is used to show status it is also used in moments of love and when Lady Capulet and the Nurse both use verse at Juliet's death the audience realises that the Nurse loves Juliet as much as Lady Capulet despite not being her biological mother. In showing the Nurse in prose previously, Shakespeare gives the audience a comparison in which they see that the Nurse's feelings have been strengthened however, Lady Capulet does not even use the dramatic rhyming couplets that she uses at Tybalt's death. Shakespeare may have chosen to do this to show that Juliet was not as important or to emphasise that her reaction to Tybalt's death was exaggerated for appearance's sake. Which ever was Shakespeare's intention, both cause the audience to dislike Lady Capulet and her superficial ways. Other character's opinions are important as Shakespeare uses them to influence the audience's opinion. However, this also depends on the audience's opinion of the character in question. For example when Shakespeare has Lord Capulet echo an old proverb and says, 'And too soon marr'd are those so early made', the audience realise that he is referring to his own wife, especially after the quick comparison made between their relationship and that of Lord and Lady Montague. This quote written for Lord Capulet is spoken at the beginning of the play before his true character is revealed and, as he is the husband of Lady Capulet, the audience believe his opinion at this time and Shakespeare uses it to shape their reaction to Lady Capulet. However, as Shakespeare develops Lord Capulet's character he becomes volatile and his temper is exposed in Act 1 Scene 5 as he says, 'You are a princox, go', after an argument with Tybalt. Lord Capulet's temper is also shown in Act 3 Scene 5 as he shouts at Juliet, 'you green-sickness carrion! Out you baggage! ...read more.

Conclusion

Shall give him such an unaccustom'd dram'. This link to death has been used by Shakespeare to remind the audience that more people die and that those people will be Romeo and Juliet. As she speaks of poisoning Romeo the audience are reminded that it is her and her husband's fault that they cannot be together. The Nurse's reaction, seen previously, however, is reversed by Juliet's needs. Shakespeare has written the speech between Juliet and the Nurse to show the devotion to Juliet that the Nurse has. The Nurse says, 'Shame come to Romeo', and, 'Will you speak well of him that kill'd your cousin?' These lines have been written to show the Nurse's grief and bitterness towards Romeo but once Juliet expresses that she is more upset about Romeo's banishment, 'that one word 'banished', / Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts', the Nurse ignores her own feelings and goes to find Romeo for Juliet. The audience are then shown once again how much the Nurse is willing to do for Juliet. The actions of both the Nurse and Lady Capulet in the play also influence the opinion of the audience. Shakespeare presents the parents of Juliet as the antagonists and the Nurse as someone who genuinely cares. Lady Capulet's main action that Shakespeare has included to shape the audience's response is forcing Juliet to marry Paris. However, this action would not have been considered so outrageous as the role of parents at the time would have been different. Lord and Lady Capulet would have been the one's to choose Juliet's husband and were perfectly in their rights to throw her out into the streets should she refuse. The audience now, and those who watched it in Shakespeare's lifetime, would be aware of the social history and Shakespeare has ensured that little understanding of the situation is considered. He does this by using Act 3 Scene 5 to present the parents of Juliet as especially nasty by having them insult her, for example Lord Capulet calls her a, 'Disobedient wretch', a 'hilding', and says it was a, 'curse in having her'. ...read more.

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