Shakespeare portrays contrasting glimpses of Lord Capulet in his play Romeo and Juliet. Examine Capulet's behaviour in a range of scenes; say what you learn about his personality and how you feel about this character

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English Coursework – Capulet Essay                                                                           Final Draft

Title: Shakespeare portrays contrasting glimpses of Lord Capulet in his play Romeo and Juliet. Examine Capulet’s behaviour in a range of scenes; say what you learn about his personality and how you feel about this character. 


The play, Romeo and Juliet was set in Verona, north of Italy. Juliet’s father Lord Capulet and his family are still active in an old feud with the Montague family, from which Romeo was born. At the Capulet’s banquet, Romeo dwells in frantic fondness at the sight of Juliet – the daughter of his father’s archenemy. Despite this, he proceeds to pursue a relationship with her. However, Lord Capulet is intent on Juliet marrying Count Paris, her suitor.

Shakespeare’s development of the character Capulet involves the brief exploration of his behaviour in various settings and situations. Each time his character is encountered, it is mainly short-lived - in snapshots. These reveal different aspects of his personality to the audience and act as pieces of a jigsaw. From these, I was able to develop an understanding of Capulet’s persona in its entirety.

Disturbed by a commotion outside his house, Lord Capulet made his first stage entrance in a reckless manner, wearing his dressing gown and demanding that his wife fetched his sword:

“Give me my long sword, ho!…My sword, I say! Old Montague is come…” (1,i lines 69-71)

A fight between the servants and young men in the opposing households had been gathering crowds. With very great haste and without due deliberation Capulet joined in, displaying what could already be judged as a violent tendency.

“A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?” (Line 70)

The quotation above shows Lady Capulet’s reaction. Aware of the implications, she attempts to restrain her husband but to no avail; his dominant role already being established in that her opinion is immediately discarded.

This is dove-tailed with Act 3 Scene 5 when Lady Capulet and the nurse are permitted no say in the way Capulet chose to discipline his daughter, whose words were also ignored. He was outraged at the fact that Juliet defied his decision that she and Paris be wed.

“Doth she not give us thanks? Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest” (Lines 142-143)

Paris’ commitment to being with Juliet would ensure there was someone there at all times to bring comfort and happiness to her in light of recent events. From this, we know that Capulet’s reasoning behind his decision mirrored his good intentions - the fact that he wanted the best for his daughter. Through marriage, he felt that Juliet could recover and deal with her bereavement at more ease. This accounts for Capulet’s rhetorical questions quoted above. His reference to her in the third person as ‘she’, indicates how he belittles her. He can’t imagine why Juliet would even consider going against his will. He expects her to be thankful for his efforts and more importantly, “proud” to be engaged to such a wealthy, recognised earl. Capulet does not in the slightest consider that his daughter may not, like him, give wealth and status such high importance when looking for a husband. We see that though he wants what’s best for his daughter (as would any father), he possesses the inability to empathise and listen to anything Juliet has to say. We can imagine that children like Juliet were not envisaged on the whole during that time. Instead, they were judged incompetent of understanding certain issues surrounding them, and were therefore given little or no input in decision-making.

Unbeknown to her parents, Juliet had already married Romeo and therefore could not marry again unless Romeo died. She would not and could not be with another man other than her beloved Romeo. The fact that Juliet did not inform her parents of her marriage to Romeo shows that communication in their family was limited – evermore distancing their relationship.

In they eyes of her family, Juliet was still grief-stricken over her cousin Tybalt’s murder.

“…for the sunset of my brother’s son

It rains downright…What, still in tears?…

Thou counterfeits a bark, a sea, a wind:

For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea,

Do ebb and flow with tears…

the winds, thy sighs… ”

Her tears however, were only for Romeo who had been sentenced to banishment for committing the crime in defence of his own life. Here, Capulet makes a thoughtful attempt to understand his daughter’s distress by describing how he imagines her to be feeling. He describes her metaphorically: her mournful sighs being “the winds”, her tears: the heavy downpour of rain and her eyes: the flowing “sea” . These metaphors illustrate the intensity of Juliet’s feelings by appealing to our sense of hearing and touch. The fact that weather can be heard and felt physically increases the dynamics of the imagery – we can almost feel her pain.

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sunset of my brother’s son” – Shakespeare has used alliteration here within a metaphor discretely , enabling him to achieve a deliberate effect; an emphasis on how someone so dear to them no longer shines life upon the earth. Within this comparison of Tybalt and the sun, we find a pun; the ‘son’ has ‘set’. The use of these poetic techniques demonstrate the degree to which Shakespeare’s writing was carefully and skilfully conceived 

However, Capulet’s sympathetic mood changes drastically when he learns that Juliet does not wish to marry Paris. His calm, thoughtful demeanour turns upside-down almost instantaneously. Unable to comprehend ...

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