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How should a modern audience respond to Capulet and his treatment of Juliet? How might an understanding of cultural and historical context affect the audience's response to him?

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Introduction

How should a modern audience respond to Capulet and his treatment of Juliet? How might an understanding of cultural and historical context affect the audience's response to him? During the time that Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet, the roles of people in society and the family were very different. Men were superior to women in every way; the father had full control over every aspect of his marriage and family. Children, especially girls, would have been expected to everything their father bid them - from chores to marrying a suitable husband. Men controlled every aspect of his family. He also owned everything his wife owned. Legally women had the legal status of a modern infant - it was practically impossible for a women to get a divorce since the Church also favoured men, plus it was practically unheard of in them times. This is far different from a modern Western society, where all people's opinions and social wealth are considered equally valuable; and everyone has freedom of speech and choice, even children (though to a lesser extent.) ...read more.

Middle

This shows Lord Capulet is a reasonable man, as many fathers in the same position would give their daughters no choice in the matter. Lord Capulet also makes Paris consider that she is only 13 years old, and reminds him that often wives that young end in 'marred' marriages. Lord Capulet also invites Paris to his party that night where he says he may meet another lady fit for marriage. In Act 1 Scene 2 Shakespeare also gives us an idea of how beloved Juliet is to Lord Capulet as he says, "she's the hopeful lady of my Earth." This statement shows that he cares for Juliet far more than anyone else, including his wife. In Act 1 Scene 5 Tybalt discovers that Romeo has attended the Capulet's party without invitation. On hearing his voice he sends his page to fetch his sword. However, Lord Capulet sees his anger and tells him not to pick a fight with Romeo, as he believes him a "portly gentlemen" whom Verona brags as a "virtuous and well-governed youth." ...read more.

Conclusion

he perceives Juliet's reactions as simply ungrateful. He expected to go into her room, tell her the news about Paris, and for Juliet to simply stop crying. Her refusal surprises Capulet so much that he perhaps over reacts to the conversation. It is important for a modern audience to understand that Lord Capulet is reacting in an acceptable way complying with the standards of his society. As previously mentioned, the man of the household would have full control over his daughter, and such a determined refusal to follow an instruction would have been almost unheard of in Shakespearian times. While this does not directly justify Capulet's violence, it does explain his behaviour. To conclude, I believe that a modern audience should not judge Capulet too harshly for his rage against Juliet, as he shows reasonable behaviour at earlier points in the play. An understanding of cultural and historical context would help a modern audience understand firstly how reasonable Capulet was at the beginning of the play, but also how his violence towards Juliet could be acceptable under the circumstances - if anything, he under reacted by what would have been expected. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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