How Juliet’s Character Has Developed During the Course of the Play?
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Romeo and Juliet is a romantic tragedy that follows the story of two young people of feuding families falling in love. At the beginning of the play Juliet is young and dependent on other people, but when she meets Romeo who is older she matures quickly throughout the course of the play. Although nowadays it is normal for people to love someone of the same age, it was accepted in the days of the play that the boy would be older, and hence more mature, than the girl and it was normal and accepted for a girl to get married at a young age. Some of Juliet’s characteristics are portrayed clearly to the audience however others can be deduced from close analysis of the language used and throughout the play Juliet is pushed into situations that require her to change her maturity.
In Act 2 Scene 5, Juliet is waiting restlessly for her nurse to return with news from Romeo: Whether or not he will wed her. In this Scene a soliloquy is performed by Juliet, this means that she is speaking aloud to no other characters but only the audience. This is crucial as it is a good way for the audience to see characters true feelings and learn more about them.
Throughout the scene, Juliet uses many words to portray speed, adjectives such as “long” and “wind-swift”, she also uses verbs like “send” and “glides” and nouns like “journey” and “ball”. She uses these words as she is eager and impatient; she does not want to wait to find out what news her nurse carries from Romeo.
Although these words may be to do with speed, they are all used to show how Juliet is impatient and somewhat annoyed with the nurse. She curses the nurse by describing her as “slow”, “unwieldy” and “heavy”. She is impatient with the nurse because it has been “three long hours, yet she has not come”. We can also see she is impatient from lines 4 to 8: “…She is lame! Loves heralds should be thoughts…Therefore do nimble-pinioned doves draw love and therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings”. She wants her messages of love to and from Romeo to travel instantaneously. She does not want to wait to find out what is happening, showing the audience she is impatient.
On line 13 Juliet speaks a simile, “Had she affections and warm youthful blood, she would be swift in motion as a ball”, this means that she wants the nurse to remember what it’s like to be young, to be in love, so she would carry the messages as fast as a balls. This shows the audience again how impatient Juliet is.
The first line of the scene spoken by Juliet, also suggests to the audience how time is playing on her mind. This is cleverly done through the use of short, sharp, monosyllabic words, “The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse”, that the audience get the impression of the clocks ticking in her head. The audience sees that she is aware of every passing second and is desperately awaiting news from Romeo.
From this scene the audience see how impatient and childish Juliet is. However we also get to see her concern and unease where she says “perchance she cannot meet him”, meaning what would happen if the nurse cannot find Romeo, which also shows the audience that she is worried, and desperately in love with Romeo, wanting to hear his every word and to marry him.
In Act 3 scene 2, we get to see not much has changed about Juliet’s personality and Shakespeare makes use of dramatic irony; this is used as the audience know that Romeo has just killed Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, however she does not know this and shows affection towards him. She is still singing his praises.
Juliet is once again extremely impatient, but this time it is waiting for the night to come so her and Romeo can consummate their marriage.
She is getting restless and officious, she orders night to come: “Gallop apace, you fiery footed steeds…Bring in cloudy night immediately” and cannot wait to meet Romeo again to complete their marriage.
She also orders the night to “spread thy close curtain” so that Romeo can come to her and they can make love.
In her speech she uses a succession of questions “Now, Nurse, what news?”, “What hast thou there?” This shows the audience that Juliet is experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions; she is feeling worried, nervous, anxious and excited. She feels worried and nervous because she does not know what is going to happen with Romeo however she is also anxious because she cannot wait for him to arrive. This also shows the audience that she does not know what to do, she is young and does not know how to Act and she is also somewhat ordering the nurse to tell her.
Juliet mentions the night a lot throughout the scene such as “love-performing night” and “cloudy night; this is because it is the time that Juliet sees they can make love. She also personifies night in lines 10 to 12: “come civil night, thou sober-suited matron all in black, and learn me how to lose a winning match”. This means that she wants the night to come quickly, because she wants to lose her virginity to Romeo.
Later on in lines 20 to 22 Juliet says “whiter than news snow upon a raven’s back…Gentle…Loving…Black-bowed Night”. This is personification, it show the audience that she thinks Romeo is perfect, pure and wonderful. She thinks he is so amazing that is whiter than snow appearing against the contrasting colour of black: that he is perfect and can do nothing wrong.
In lines 26 to 28 Juliet uses the metaphor “O, I have bought the mansion of a love, but not yet possessed it; and though I am sold, not yet enjoyed”. This means that although Romeo and Juliet are married, they are not yet able to enjoying each other. They have not had the chance.
It is also ironic that in lines 23 to 31 Juliet says, “So tedious is this day as is the night before some festival to an impatient child that hath new robes and may not wear them.” This means that she feels like an impatient child trying to sleep the night before a long awaited event and is again personification. It is ironic as she is describing herself as childish, which is exactly what she is portrayed as to the audience.
In some ways the audience is expected to feel sorry for Juliet, she has just been faced with adult situations, marriage and love, yet she is still a child. She does not usually have to decide things by herself, it is left down to her parents or her nurse, and now she is deeply in love with the son from a feuding family.
The audience would also feel embarrassment for Juliet, she is singing Romeo’s praises and she thinks he’s perfect when he isn’t; he’s just killed Juliet’s cousin for revenge.
Later on in this scene, Juliet is told that her cousin, Tybalt, has been murdered by Romeo, and that Romeo is to be banished from Verona.
Juliet uses many oxymorons here to show she is confused, and oxymoron is two words of opposite meaning describing one thing, such as “Beautiful tyrant”, “Dove-feathered raven” and “honourable villain”. Juliet is perplexed as to how someone who appears so pure, so perfect, can be evil and can do wrong. How the body of an angel can hide the feelings of a devil.
Juliet needs to decide whether to be loyal to her family who she has known her whole life and overlook Romeo or choose Romeo, her husband and her love who she has only known for less than a week. She wants to do what is best for everyone, we can see this from the questions she is asking, but she is only young and does not know what to do, her family or her nurse have always previously made the decisions for her.
Then in lines 100 to 101: “But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin? That villain cousin would have killed my husband” this shows the audience that Juliet has the idea that Romeo has murder Tybalt, because if he hadn’t, Tybalt would have slaughtered Romeo. This is because at that moment, she is confused, she does not fully understand what is going on and is trying to comfort herself.
Again, in lines 112 to 114 Juliet says “…and Romeo is banished…that one word ‘Banished’, has slain ten thousand Tybalts”. Here, Juliet is saying that she would rather Tybalt be murdered ten thousand times than for Romeo to be banished. This tells the audience that she is starting to show more loyalty to Romeo over her family and the line “O find him! Give this ring to my true knight, and bid him come to take his last farewell” tells the audience that she has decided to stay devoted and loyal to Romeo and not her family.
In this scene, Juliet has really matured. She has dealt with her first serious problem all by herself. She may have been on an emotional rollercoaster throughout this scene but she has sub consciously considered every possibility and has made a definite answer at the end. She has overcome this challenge without help from her family. This shows she is able to make quick, adult decisions when needed; that she has grown up a bit.
In Act 3 Scene 4, Juliet is told that she must marry Paris. Juliet’s Father believes that this would make Juliet happy and that’s why he has bought forward the date of marriage.
In the beginning of the scene Lady Capulet speaks to Juliet in an arrogant, bossy and almost persuasive voice. It is not as if Juliet is her daughter, but a servant being told what to do and feel. “Well, well, thou hast a careful father, child; One who, to put thee from thy heaviness, hath sorted out a sudden day of joy, that thou expects not nor I looked not for.” This line is trying to convince Juliet that her father is doing it for her own good.
Lady Capulet continues speaking to Juliet in an orderly manner, refusing to hear her point of view, that Juliet does not want to marry Paris and wants her mum to discuss the matter with her farther. “Here comes your father; tell him so yourself, and see how he will take it at your hands.” Lady Capulet also refers to Juliet as a child a lot, “thou has a careful father, child” and “Marry, my child”, showing the audience that her parents still think she is young and unable to make her own points.
Juliet then disobeys her parents for the first time, “He shall not make me a joyful bride” this shows that she is maturing, she knows exactly what she wants and won’t let her parents change her mind. She is standing up for what she wants.
It may seem unfair that the Capulets are trying to force Juliet to marry someone she does not love, however this play is set in the 17th century where this was very much the norm.
In lines 196 to 198 Juliet tries to praise her mum in order to get sympathy. “O sweet my mother, cast me not away!” She exclaims this which shows how desperate she is, she wants Romeo instead of Paris but does not want to be thrown out. Her short sharp sentences show nervousness and fear.
In line 204 to 210, Juliet says “O God! O nurse… shall that faith return again to earth, unless that husband send it me from heaven by leaving earth? comfort me, counsel me…What say’st thou? hast thou not a word of joy? Some comfort, nurse.” Here, Juliet is asking the nurse for help, for advice. She does not know what to do.
The response she gets from the nurse is not want Juliet wants to hear. The nurse calls Romeo and “Dishclout” and advises Juliet to marry Paris. Juliet expected the nurse to tell her to stay with Romeo, and to come up with a cunning plan of how to do this however the nurse advises her to go with Paris. This shows that Juliet is being impatient, she does not even want to consider over people’s ideas.
She is also angry with the nurse; she calls her “O most wicked fiend”. Juliet has been let down on the one person that she confided in. She now has to fend for herself and make decisions on her own. This show the audience she is becoming more mature.
Later on in Act 4 Scene 3, we get to see a whole new side to Juliet. Juliet is in her room saying goodnight to her nurse and her mother. As her nurse and Lady Capulet leave Juliet says “God knows when we shall meet again” this shows us again her disobedience towards her parent.
She then says in line 2 to 6 “I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins, that almost freezes up the heat of life…” This tells the audience that Juliet is starting to panic; she does not know what to do. This also tells the audience that she has given up relying on other people. She is becoming more mature and making her way on her own without the help of her parents or her nurse.
Juliet then starts to fear even more, “What if it be a poison…Lest in this marriage he should be”. This shows that Juliet is becoming irrational, the one man, Friar Laurence, which has been on hers and Romeos side through this whole ordeal, and she is starting to fear him.
Worry is starting to take over Juliet’s mind : “How if, when I am laid into the tomb, I wake before the time that Romeo come to redeem me…”. This shows that Juliet is unsure what will happen, she does not know whether she will get her happy ending. She does not know what to do.
She is getting worked up about the situations and starting to think about things a girl of her age should not consider. “O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught, Environed with all these hideous fears?” These are disgusting thoughts, the situations are making her mad and think of things she would not have before.
The final line spoken by Juliet in that scene is “Romeo, I come! This do I drink to thee.” This lines shows certainty and her love and passion towards Romeo. Even though she has just imagined terrible things happening, the ghost of her cousin coming to her, the rotting corpses of her ancestors beside her, she has remained loyal towards Romeo and would chance anything for him.
The final line spoken by Juliet in the play is “Yea, noise? then I’ll be brief. O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die.”
This one line shows her hastiness of dying and her lack of fear of the matter. She says that the dagger belongs in her and that she wants to die.
In the beginning of the play, we saw Juliet as an obedient, childish, strong willed child. She did what she was told to do and did not really think for herself. When she met Romeo she began to disobey her parents and become more self reliant. She started to lie to spend time with someone else and get away from her family. Throughout the play Juliet was confronted with the death of Tybalt and Romeo. This made her confused and a bit crazed. Towards the end of the play she had become self reliant, she did not require anybody to tell her what to do and had matured a lot, she understood what it is like to be in love even if it did lead to her death.
The main factors that caused these changes in Juliet’s maturity were meeting Romeo that introduced her into the idea of love, the death of Tybalt and Romeo and the loss of faith towards her nurse.
Juliet started off as a child but matured throughout the play, becoming an independent adult.