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How would a modern and Elizabethan audience react to the way that Shakespeare portrays the relationship between Juliet and her Mother and Father?

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BETH HAMPTON 11L MRS SOMERS How would a modern and Elizabethan audience react to the way that Shakespeare portrays the relationship between Juliet and her Mother and Father? Romeo and Juliet, is a tragic play written early in the career of William Shakespeare about two teenage "star-cross'd lovers", whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding families to which they belong: the Montagues and the Capulets. Juliet, a 13 year-old girl belonging to the Capulet family, initially appears to be very innocent, docile and respectful of her Mother's authority. Having not quite reached her fourteenth birthday, Juliet is of an age that stands on the border between immaturity and maturity. She is reluctant to take part in adult-conversation (as we discover when the nurse and her Mother have a conversation with her about marriage and her age), however begins to rapidly mature in her meetings with Romeo. Romeo Montague is handsome, intelligent, and sensitive. Though impulsive and immature, his idealism and passion make him an extremely likable character. The story centres on the ill-fated love between the adolescent children of these two leading, but warring families of medieval Verona, Italy. Because of the feud between the families and the dictates of the day, which gave Juliet's father the right to promise her in marriage to any man of his choice, Romeo and Juliet's secret marriage is destined to bring tragedy both to the couple and to their families. Accordingly, Juliet is extremely respectful toward her parents, Lady Capulet and Lord Capulet, however throughout the novel becomes increasingly rebellious and troublesome. ...read more.


She is first introduced to the play in Act 1 Scene 3 and is a trusted family servant to Lord Capulet in Verona and maintains an active voice in their family affairs. The Nurse has been with the Capulet family for at least fourteen years, the entirety of Juliet's life, and ever since the death of her own daughter, born on the same day as Juliet, she has taken care of Juliet and become more like a mother to her than Lady Capulet. Juliet and the Nurse share a very close bond, one that surpasses one of a girl and her servant. She was essentially Juliet's wet nurse, and the relationship between a baby and one who feeds it is very strong, which is one of the main reasons why they continued to be so close. Since being her wet nurse the Nurse has become over the years Juliet's close companion, confidant, friend, and later on in the play, her co-conspirator. Juliet is comfortable with and at ease speaking to the Nurse. This allows Juliet to take her into her confidence when she decides to defy the family feud and marry Romeo. The Nurse holds Juliet's happiness so high that she betrays her employer and arranges Juliet's marriage and last night with Romeo. She tends to use many terms of endearment; when calling on Juliet in Act 1 scene 3, she says: "What, lamb? What, ladybird?", however when spoken to by her Mother, she speaks very formally, calling her "madam." ...read more.


When Juliet entreats her mother to intervene, her mother denies her help. Since her marriage to Romeo, Juliet feels so strong and confident as a woman, who has just lost her virginity to her lover, that she defies her father, however in that action she learns the limit of her power. Strong as she might be, Juliet is still a woman in a male-dominated world. One from a contemporary audience might think that Juliet should just take her father up on his offer to disown her and go to live with Romeo in Mantua, but that is not an option. Juliet, as a woman, cannot leave society. An Elizabethan audience would not struggle to accept and understand this concept, whereas a more modern audience may not be so settled with the notion. At first, the relationship between Juliet and her parents appears to be strong, as Capulet persuades Paris to 'woo' her daughter rather than them force her to marry him. He shows that he has concern for her, especially as she is quite young, even though this would not have been the shared opinion of society in general (her mother had already given birth to Juliet at a younger age than Juliet's current age). However, this relationship is mostly based on the fact that Juliet is very obedient and does not oppose her parents openly, which obviously changes when Romeo and Juliet fall in love, and Juliet is told that she must marry Paris. The shock of his daughter's stubbornness and refusal to obey her parents' wish of her marrying Paris literally destroys the relationship between Juliet and her parents. ...read more.

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