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Romeo and Juliet- Juliet: Character development

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Juliet,when we first meet her, is a 13 year old girl on the borderline of childhood and maturity. Over the course of the days to foll she develops into an intelligent, sharp witted woman because of the harships she has to face.

When we first meet Juliet, she is portrayed as a submissive, obedient girl. When her mother asks her about her feelings on marriage she obediently replies ‘I’ll look to like….But no more will I endart my eye than your consent gives strength to make fly’ (Act1 sc iii)

Being a woman in an aristocratic family s she does not have the freedom to climb walls at midnight and engage swordfights. But when she experiences life outside the Capulet household she begins to develop into a courageous, strong young woman. She gives glimpses of her determination, strength and sober mindedness in the earliest scenes of the play and gives us a preview of the resolute woman she will soon become. When asked her opinion on marriage on marriage she smartly but obediently replies ‘It is an honour I dream not of’ ( Act 1 sc iii ) She again shows this innate sharp wit when Lady Capulet fails to quiet the nurses rambling yet Juliet does so in one sentence (Act1 Sciii)

Juliet turns down the path directly towards womanhood and maturity when she meets Romeo. When she discovers he is a Montague she acts with wisdom beyond her years and she sees that the feud between the two families and the fact that Romeo is a Montague is irrelevant to the person Romeo is. ‘ Whats in a name? That which we call a rose by any other would smell as sweet’ (Act 2 sc ii) This is another example of Juliets logical, rational thinking.

Juliet’s level headedness contrasts with Romeos rash decisions and tendency to over dramatise. She unlike Romeo sees the quick pace that their romance has made. ‘…too rash too unadvis’d too sudden’ In despite of this, she is madly in love with him and shows great courage when trusting her entire future to him by proposing marriage.

But her deep love for Romeo does not cloud her reason and logical thinking when Tybalt, who is Juliets cousin, is killed by Romeo. She is forced to choose where her loyalties and heart lie – with her family or with the man she is desperately in love with. . But she does not just follow Romeo blindly. At first she criticizes Romeo for his role in Tybalts death then regains control of herself and she makes a loyal and heartfelt decision that her loyalties lie with her husband. Juliet shows amazing strength in character by folloing her heart and not the pressures of society.

Juliets full maturity is shown the day after her wedding night with Romeo. She dominates the conversation with her mother who cannot keep up with Juliets intelligence and does not realise that Juliet is proclaiming her love for Romeo to her. “Indeed I shall never be satisfied till I behold him- dead. (Act 3 Sc5)

When Juliet is told that the arranged marriage to Paris is to held on the coming Thursday, refusal is her reaction. Juliet also learns the limits of her power when she defys her fathers authority by refusing to marry Paris At the beginning of the story, Juliet would have never dreamed of rebelling against her parents. Now it seems its her only option. ‘I shall not marry yet and when I do it shall be Romeo whom you know I hate Rather than Paris’ (Act 3 sc5 )

The nurse also disagrees with Juliets decision not to marry Paris and leaves her. Because of her courage in defying her parents for her love, Juliet is left totally alone. Her break from the nurse aslo symblosises Juliets development as having a nurse is a mark of childhood. Juliet chooses her loyalties to her husband over her nurse. Shakespeare situates Juliets development directly after her first and only sexual experience with Romeo.

Juliets final act of courage is her suicide. Juliet would rather sacrifice herself than live a life without her love This is not just a show of feminine weakness because of her grief about Romeos suicide but takes a lot of strength as she actually stabs herself in the heart with a dagger. ‘O happy dagger, This is thy sheath, there rust and let me die’ (Act 5 sc 3)

Juliets character is a strong portrayal of a journey from childhood to womanhood in a tragic tale of the battle between love and the pressures of society.

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