Romeo and Juliet - How does Shakespeare present the character of Lady Capulet?

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Samantha-Jayne Murray

How does Shakespeare present the character of Lady Capulet?

Lady Capulet is the Wife of Capulet and the mother of Juliet. She is a very strong minded woman of which in the time Shakespeare wrote this strong minded women were frowned upon. She takes pride in having intelligence. The heartache of loosing several babies has turned her into a cold hearted woman who hides her feelings. Through the bitchy exterior Lady Capulet shows she is actually quite a sensitive woman. Lady Capulet uses sarcastic, ironic hyperbole to hide her feelings. Lady Capulet is perceived as an assertive, aggressive woman that is seen as unladylike. In the play Lady Capulets authority is challenged and she looses two family members. She has to come to the terms of their deaths and that she will die one day. Many themes are explored through Lady Capulet. They are the roles of women in society, sensitivity, her lack of compassion, her authority, feminism and foreshadowing, of which I will analyse during this essay.

The role of the women in society shows how women were perceived in this era. Lady Capulet displays her role in the society when she is locked in conversation with Juliet. Lady Capulet drops in the subject of marriage into her and Juliet’s conversation. “Well think of marriage now, younger than you.” Shakespeare uses a reference that hints at Lady Capulet being married young, to try and persuade Juliet to marry at her current age. This shows that the role of women in society in this era was that of a young housewife. The women were married at the beginning of their teens and had children.

Even though Lady Capulet has a cold exterior and lacks sensitivity, she does show she can be sensitive. When Lady Capulet finds Juliet dead she says:

“O me, O me, my child, my only life.

Revive look up or, I will die with thee:

Help, help, call help.”

Shakespeare uses this dramatic visual moment to show that Lady Capulet is not as cold hearted, as she appears to be. Shakespeare shows that Lady Capulet has a sensitive side, which will leave the audience shocked as they have never seen this side to her throughout the play.

Another of Lady Capulets main themes is that she has a lack of compassion. This is shown in many ways during the play. When Lady Capulet goes to Juliet’s bedroom, she finds Juliet crying and she assumes that Juliet is still weeping over Tybalt.

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“What thou wilt though wash him from his grave with tears.”

Shakespeare uses sarcastic hyperbole to show that Lady Capulet has no compassion and tenderness towards her daughter. This line gives the image of Juliet crying so much that Tybalt will be washed away from his grave. This suggests a level of insensitivity that Lady Capulet has. This line is quite contradictive as in some productions it is hinted at Lady Capulet and Tybalt having an affair. Although, Lady Capulet may just be hiding her feelings towards Tybalt. After Juliet’s reaction Lady Capulet replies by telling Juliet to stop grieving. ...

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