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How does Shakespeare show the changing relationship between Juliet and her parents in Act 3 Scene 5?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare show the changing relationship between Juliet and her parents in Act 3 Scene 5? Before Act 3 Scene 5 there is a limited amount of interaction between Juliet and her parents witnessed by the audience, but what is shown or said of the subject is revealing not just of Juliet and her parents feelings of one another but also of the relationships between children and their parents in this time period. In Act 1 Scene 2 Paris asks Capulet for permission to marry Juliet. In this scene Capulet is quickly established as the 'patriarch' of the family by making important decisions that dramatically change Juliet's life for the good of the family. It is in this scene that the relationship between Juliet and her parents is first shown and our first impression of Capulet is that he adores his daughter and wants to look out for her best interests, declining Paris' offer because he feels Juliet is still too young for marriage. He says, about Juliet, that 'She is the hopeful lady of my earth', meaning that Juliet is his world and she shall inherit all of his possessions. Lady Capulet on the other hand is shown to be much less openly affectionate towards her daughter and the intimacy of their relationship is very strained, with Lady Capulet feeling uncomfortable speaking with her daughter alone. ...read more.

Middle

She also ignores Juliet's pleas towards the end of the scene, in which Juliet dramatically exclaims that she would rather die than marry Paris. "O, sweet my mother, cast me not away! Delay this marriage for a month, a week; Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed In that dim monument where Tybalt lies." Lady Capulet either does not believe that this upsets Juliet so much she would kill herself, or she doesn't care. Juliet's Father, Capulet, doesn't appear until later on in the scene and when he first appears he acts very much in the same way as he had done earlier in the play, only concerning himself over his daughter's well-being and happiness, "How now! A conduit, girl? What, still in tears?". Lord Capulet's attitude completely changes to one of disbelief and anger when his wife tells him of Juliet's refusal to marry Paris. "Soft! Take me with you, take me with you, wife. How! Will she none? Doth she not give us thanks?" He proceeds to viciously mock Juliet - "I'll not wed; I cannot love, I am too young! I pray you, pardon me." And he also insults Juliet, calling her a ' Green-sickness carrion' which means he thinks of her as a plague and a burden on the family. ...read more.

Conclusion

Considering the social, historical and cultural context of the play this is completely normal. Women of noble heritage were expected to marry a man their Father had chosen out for them without complaint and were not expected to make important decision for themselves as they were thought of as inferior to men. Males were the breadwinner and females had very little job opportunities. This explains why Juliet is so dependent on her Father and why his threat to marry Paris or leave forever is so serious she seriously contemplates suicide. By the end of this scene Juliet has been abandoned by three people that she has been very dependent on in her life thus far, the Nurse who she has always relied on for motherly comfort and support who has now turned against Juliet to protect herself, "I think it best you married with the County, O, he's a lovely gentleman! Romeo's a dishclout to him." , and her parents who she has relied on for her leisurely comforts and financial security her whole life and who have now given her an impossibly ultimatum, thus she is understandably feeling very lonely. The audience feels sympathetic for Juliet and frustrated on her behalf, having seen the whole story unfold and knowing that her marriage to and love for Romeo is the real reason that she cannot marry Paris, something her parents are unaware of. ...read more.

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