Juliet Character Study
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When we first hear of Juliet, it is Paris trying to get her father’s consent for them to marry. Her father is trying to stall Paris, he tells Paris ‘My child is yet a stranger to the world’. Capulet is referring to Juliet as though she very young and too innocent for marriage. Capulet also says
“But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart,
My will to her consent is but a part;
And she agreed, within her scope of choice”.
He could marry her off to Paris without any thought for her feelings like many men of the era did to their daughters but he isn’t, he’s being sensitive to Juliet’s emotions. The way Capulet talks about Juliet suggests that she’s ‘daddy’s little girl.’
When we first meet Juliet she is talking to her mother. Her first line tells us a lot about her relationship with her mother. She calls Lady Capulet ‘Madam’ which would suggest that their relationship isn’t a very close one.
Also from this scene we can tell that Juliet is quite immature and disinterested in men and marriage, she says ‘It is an honour that I dream not of’. Lady Capulet tries to persuade Juliet to marry Paris but Juliet is having none of it. She tells Lady Capulet that she’ll ‘Look to like’. This shows us that she is optimistic but also stubborn, she isn’t allowing her mother to back her into a corner.
Juliet meets Romeo at Capulet’s great ball. They talk quite poetically to each other, which suggests she is a romantic person. I think Shakespeare has used this style of writing as he wants them to appear as quite passionate people, he also wants the relationship to appear to be very fiery and illicit.
Romeo calls Juliet a ‘Holy Shrine’ and she carries on the religious references in a very flirtatious way by calling him a ‘pilgrim’. When Romeo asks to kiss her she is flirty and says she cannot kiss him because she is a ‘saint’, but he can kiss her. In this part we see a different side to Juliet, she reveals a side that isn’t so innocent.
Juliet is a romantic; we find this out in act 2 scene 2 when she finds out Romeo is a Montague. She utters the immortal line ‘O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’ she can’t believe the man she has fallen in love with is her family’s sworn enemy.
We can also see from this scene that she is quite forward and very sure of herself. She is the one who says they should reveal their true feelings – ‘O gentle Romeo, If thou dost love, pronounce it
faithfully’. They have also begun to discuss marriage:
“If thy bent love be honourable,
Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow,
By one that I’ll procure to come to thee
Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite”.
We see a change in Juliet, in act 3 scene 5 she lies to her mother-
“Lady Capulet: Why how now Juliet
Juliet: Madam I am not well.”
Again, Juliet calls Lady Capulet Madam, reinforcing that they are not close. Moreover, at the start of the play she came across as the kind of girl who wouldn’t have dreamed of lying to her mother. She also lies and tells her mother ‘Romeo, till I behold – dead’.
Juliet then has to try to explain to her father why she won’t be marrying Paris. We see a new side to their relationship at the start of the play he spoke to Paris about her in an adoring way as though she could do no wrong. Now he gets angry and tries to blackmail her into attending the wedding:
“Hang thee, young baggage! Disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church o’Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face”.
This angry outburst from Capulet shows a surprising side to Juliet, she appears confused and unsure:
“Is it more sin to wish me thus forsworn,
Or to depraise my lord with that same tongue”
Juliet changed a lot through the play. At the start we saw a timid, innocent girl, who appeared to have little time for Love or Marriage. By the end she was a flirtatious, driven young woman who was married and prepared to die with a man whom she had fallen in love with.
I think Shakespeare created the character of Juliet to try and show people of the time that love was not a thing that should be feared. I think he also wanted to change the audience’s opinion of Juliet. A the start of the play she came across as spoilt because of the way Lord Capulet spoke about her. Slowly through the play it became more evident that she was in fact a victim of her father’s molly coddling. The way this is put to the audience makes them feel sorry for her and change sides. They are shocked at the way Capulet turns on Juliet, which reinforces their new opinion that she is a victim.