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The relationship between Juliet and her parents in the tragedy "Romeo and Juliet"

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Introduction

Discuss the nature of the relationship between Juliet and her parents in Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet". Life in the 16th century differs greatly from life now. The social status of families was of great importance when deciding the arrangement of marriage. Women were taught to be submissive and accept the choice of husband chosen for them. The wealth of a man was a distinguishing feature between social groups and status. A marriage between a daughter and wealthy man would bring the status of the daughter's family up, so a father would try and marry his daughter into a higher social class. At the start of the play Juliet is obedient and plays a dutiful, respectful daughter. Her use of "Madam" when referring to her mother shows this. Juliet's parents change in their maternal approach to their daughter. Capulet seems to be a generous and helpful father at the beginning of the play, giving Juliet a freedom of choice, something unheard of in the 16th century. He saw her as, "The hopeful lady of [his] earth." Whereas in Act 3 he describes her birth as, "One too much." His attitude towards her changes rapidly. This differs from her mother's parenting, as Lady Capulet seems indifferent towards her daughter, merely not causing confrontation with Capulet and remaining the typical 'submissive' wife. Lady Capulet appears to not have a very close bond with her daughter, her need of a nurse in the room when discussing the proposed arrangement of marriage to Paris for her daughter shows this, "Nurse, come back again. ...read more.

Middle

Juliet begs her mother to tell him for her, "I pray you tell my lord, and father, madam." (Act3 Scene5 Line120") She sees her father as a "lord" and cannot bring herself to refuse his wishes. When informing her father, Juliet's language is pleading. This is reflected in the posture held by Juliet at Capulet's knees. Juliet kneels down at Capulet's feet, bowing her head to him. Visually the relationship between them is represented here; the high and low status of father and daughter. Capulet is above her with total control of Juliet. Capulet becomes insistent of Juliet marrying Paris as he is still unaware that she has fooled him, and still believes she is distraught over the death of Tybalt. He is bewildered at Juliet's refusal, "Doth she not give us thanks?" He believes he's provided his daughter with a, "worthy [a] gentleman," (Act3 Scene5 Line195) and cannot believe she is ungrateful for it. When Capulet responds to her he is confused, "How, how chopt logic?" Suggesting he does not understand her minced words. He increasingly becomes angrier, showing his outrage. He regards Juliet as a, "Green sickness carrion!" and, "Baggage!" Lady Capulet is not at liberty to disagree with Capulet, as this is not typical of a 16th century woman. She is put in an awkward situation and has to neglect her daughter's feelings, "Talk not to me, for I'll not speak a word. ...read more.

Conclusion

As the audience are still aware of Juliet's true desires, the naivety of Capulet is truly proclaimed in this scene, a typical Elizabethan audience would probably be mortified at the trickery Juliet still continues to play after begging her father for pardon. Capulet may have been seen as a bad father, due to the fact he could not control Juliet. A modern audience would possibly see this rebellion as a more normal part of adolescence, yet the betrayal would still be seen as 'bad' just not as shocking as it would have been found by the Elizabethans. Shakespeare presents the relationship between Juliet and her parents clearly, with the obvious fact that Juliet is not particularly close with either of her parents and closer to her nurse. This is shown through the secrecy Juliet has to both of her parents, solely confiding in the nurse. The arguments are defined with Juliet lowered to Capulet, as though he has a greater importance than her. Also, when talking to her mother she does not use informal language or tone, yet calls her mother "madam". Shakespeare's choice to write this play may have been significant to the changes in those times or the true emotion displayed throughout the play. Shakespeare's works are known for the content of real emotion and "Romeo and Juliet" is a tragedy, with the lovers' deaths only a resultant of their love. He may have written in order to show people the importance of choice, or perhaps just to challenge the belief of those times that what the parents did was what was best. ...read more.

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