Romeo and Juliet – Love
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In this essay I will be studying, to what extent is the audience prepared for the way in which lord Capulet reacts to Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris? Paris, Lord Capulet and Juliet being characters in the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Shakespeare wrote this romance in the 15th century Verona. Romeo and Juliet being main characters, where they were denied their love because of an ancient family. This essay will be examining the social, moral and historical contexts of the play as well as their characterisation. It will also be examining the reactions of a contemporary and a modern audience to help answer the essay title.
The tragedy of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ begins when a ‘chorus’ comes out and recites the prologue of the play. The purpose of the prologue is to familiarise the audience about the content and give us an abridgement of the play. However, unlike other standard prologues it’s written in the form of a sonnet
In this prologue we are already given some information about Capulet without his name being unveiled. Shakespeare writes, ‘From ancient grudge break to new mutiny’. Shakespeare reveals to the audience that two parties are going to re-enforce their resentment towards each other. One party being the household of the Capulet’s and the other being a very similar household, known as the Montague’s.
Shakespeare describes the grudge of the two families as ‘ancient’ as no one knows why both families hate each other so much and what have happened, must have occurred time ago. A contemporary audience may find this normal as people cared about their dignity. One the other hand, an audience reading this play or watching it today, might find it absurd as nowadays you can seek counselling. By Capulet’s inability to find forgiveness in his feud, may suggest he is a character that cares about his dignity.
In the prologue, the audience experiences a wide variety of literary devices, one of them being dramatic irony. We are informed by Shakespeare that people are going to die to restore peace between the household. However, the characters themselves don’t know this. The genre of the play is ‘Romance’ and is not ‘Mystery’ so using this literary device wouldn’t lessen the suspense of the play. Previously stated in this essay, Shakespeare writes the play in the form of a sonnet.
Sonnets usually consist of 14 lines; the prologue of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ follows this structure. In this sonnet the 14 lines are divided up into 3 sections of 4 lines and the last section is made up of 2 lines. This sonnet uses three different methods to separate the 4 sections from one another. The first method is that the sections begins and end as sentences (at the end of the first 3 lines there are commas, but at the end of the fourth line of the section there is a full stop.) This is method is present in the first three sections.
The next method that is applied is that each new sentence begins a different topic, moving the audience gradually through the storyline of the play avoiding confusion. The third method that is used is the use of rhyming couplets. These are used alternatively in the three sections, made of 4 lines so, for example the first line would rhyme with the third and the second with the fourth and so on. Sonnets are usually referred with love and romance. This might be a factor supporting why Shakespeare wrote his prologue as a sonnet as his the play is a romance.
Count Paris is a wealthy man that wishes to marry Juliet. He is handsome, somewhat self-absorbed, very wealthy, and is a kinsman of Prince Escalus. However, despite his occasional arrogance, he loves Juliet dearly. However, he doesn’t propose to Juliet but asks permission from Lord Capulet himself. Capulet’s reactions were ‘gentle Paris, get her heart’. He seems very philosophical and but doesn’t want to force Juliet into marriage but tells Paris to try and win her over. The audience of Today might see this as normal. However, a contemporary audience might find this peculiar as Lord Capulet is delaying a chance of marrying his daughter into a higher, hierarchy. This may back evidence that the Lord is wise and calm, which may shock the audience when he forces the marriage upon Juliet later on in the play.
In this scene, we get a get some information on the characteristics of Juliet. Lord Capulet says, ‘My child is yet a stranger in the world; She hath not seen the change of fourteen years’. Lord Capulet claims that she is very clever for a youngster. The audience of today might find Count Paris, paedophilic as he tries to marry a girl which is a lot younger than him. But a contemporary audience might find this normal as this was normal during the time of Shakespeare. Lord Capulet praising his daughter’s intelligence might be absurd when he neglects her independence and love life for her to marry Paris.
Lord Capulet shows great sign of intelligence because of his imaginative use of figurative language. In his conversation with Paris who wishes to wed his daughter, Lord Capulet uses metaphors of Nature in his references to his daughter. In Act I, Scene II of “Romeo and Juliet” he refers to her as a fruit that has not yet ripened as on a tree that needs to be “two summers” older before it will bear good fruit.
In act 1 scene 5 Capulet has thrown one of his annual parties at his house. Two intruders were found at the party, one of them being one of the main characters Romeo and the other being foolish Mercutio. Despite the two intruders being members of his enemy household, he doesn’t retaliate and carries on with his friendly party mood. The audience might be shocked by this as they are members from his rival family and he is not retaliating in any manner. Reasons for this might be because of County Paris presence at the party.
Tybalt, a fiery character, wants to deal with the two intruders but Lord Capulet tells him off. Capulet says, ‘you are a princox; go: Be quiet’. Capulet refers to Tybalt as a ‘princox’ meaning a wilful and spoilt. It’s absurd how Capulet tries to stop any confrontation between Tybalt and the Montague intruders as Capulet himself began the feud. This might again be because of the presence of County Paris at the party. This might show the audience that he is very cautious about his dignity especially when there is a high prolific guest around.
Capulet announces to Paris that he has permission to wed his young daughter. Capulet says, ‘Wednesday is too soon, A’ Thursday let it be. A’ Thursday, tell her, She shall be married to this noble earl’ He seems extremely eager to marry off Juliet. This might be because that he was scared that time was going to run out for him as he lost Tybalt in a collision between the two rivals. This fact might have heavily support that Lord Capulet might be a hypocrite. This may help to ready the audiences when he undoubtedly goes against his morals and forces the marriage upon Juliet.
During Act 3 scene 4, Lord Capulet seems to have changed his answer and wants to force marriage upon Juliet. This act might have been affected by the death of nephew Tybalt. The death of Tybalt might have affected Lord Capulet psychologically. Lord Capulet says, ‘she loved her kinsman Tybalt dearly, And so did I:–Well, we were born to die’. It seems that Lord Capulet is very cautious about death and seems like he is eager to marry off Juliet as he scared that death is approaching him so he can’t no longer persuade her to marry who he wants her to marry. A contemporary audience might find this normal as Lord Capulet is the leader of his family so his word goes. But a current audience might find this annoying as Lord Capulet changing his ways constantly without ending.
When Lord Capulet lectures Paris about death approaching, Shakespeare might have used this as indicator of some deaths approaching. This literary device is called foreshadowing as you give hints to the audience for what events to come. However, the deaths of Romeo and Juliet was already foreshadowed so Lord Capulet might be indicated the foreshadowing at Romeo and Juliet.
Act 3 scene 5 starts off with Romeo and Juliet spending the last hours together before Romeo leaves to Mantua. Then, Juliet gets a visit from Lord Capulet that verbally attacks her when she refuses to marry Paris. We see very big different contrast of the latter and earlier parts of this particular scene. You have a very emotional romance in the beginning and then a very heated argument in end. Shakespeare might have done this to balance out the hatred and the love in this scene which he also has done throughout the whole play.
Juliet meeting Romeo has obviously left her to blossom into a new and more independent character. In earlier parts seems not to mind marrying Paris but when asked now, she strongly says No, leaving he father infuriating. Juliet says, ‘I will not marry yet; and, when I do, I swear, It shall be Romeo’. Juliet seems to have developed lots of courage after meeting Romeo. She seems not to hesitate to deliver the facts to father, she doesn’t even reconsider the consequences of such actions.
Mentioned previously, reacts with insults to show his affections for his daughter disobedience. He says, ‘Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch’. He bursts out calling his own daughter a ‘wretch’ meaning a miserable un-happy person. He seems to be confused with his daughter’s reaction, possibly, not knowing of her change in behaviour. But Juliet might even not know of her father’s change in mind that might have been due to the killing of Tybalt. Seeing a lot of young girls rebelling against their parents in the modern world, you would expect a modern audience to not be surprised with Juliet’s reactions. But a contemporary audience would see this as mutiny, living a patriarchal society; you usually listen to what the male says without hesitation.
Juliet quiet idiotically foreshadows her own death. She says, ‘Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed. In that dim monument where Tybalt lies.’. She suggesting that if she is forced to marry Tybalt she will die. Funnily, she does die but mainly because she didn’t get to be with Romeo. But Juliet is in love and love requires for the lovers to sacrifice for each other.
Studying all possible verdicts for how the audience are ready for Lord Capulet’s reactions. I have come to a personal agreement that the audience might have been slightly prepared. I say this because he hints his change of thoughts during his conversation with Paris. But however this is my personal opinion and I am a free person, entitled to my opinion. As an opinion, I see it’s unnecessary to justify it.