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Audience's Response To Lady Capulet And The Nurse In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

4204 words - 17 pages

Audience's Response to Lady Capulet and the Nurse in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

In 'Romeo and Juliet', Shakespeare presents the audience with two very
different but equally significant female characters. By the end of the
play Juliet turns her back on both characters but due to Shakespeare's
clever presentation of the characters, one the audience agrees with
and one they do not. Shakespeare shapes the audience's response to
Lady Capulet by creating a harsh, cold woman who shows little maternal
feeling towards her daughter. However, more interesting is the
presentation of the caring Nurse who, through her acts of maternal
love towards Juliet, Shakespeare makes capture the audience's heart.

The first, and possibly most effective, technique that Shakespeare
uses to shape the audience's response is through speech and the lines
he has written for the characters. Everything that the Nurse and Lady
Capulet say is absorbed by the audience and is used when forming a
response to their characters. Shakespeare has written the Nurse's
speeches with much feeling and honesty and Lady Capulet's with a lot
less. For example, in Act 1 Scene 3 the Nurse says, 'seek happy nights
to happy days', whereas Lady Capulet says, 'Read o'er the volume of
young Paris' face'. In using the word 'happy' twice, Shakespeare shows
the audience that the Nurse's main concern is Juliet's happiness and
feelings. Lady Capulet, however, instructs Juliet with no concern
whatsoever to her feelings. Such precise word choice by Shakespeare
influences the audience. An honest, loving character receives a warmer
response than the character of Lady Capulet, who is not. Shakespeare
keeps Lady Capulet as a very cold character in her speech in order to
distance her from the audience and to prevent the audience from
relating to or understanding the character as this may soften their
response.

Shakespeare uses humour to shape the audience's response to the Nurse.
We see this the very first time that the audience meets her in Act 1
Scene 3 as her first line, 'Now, by my maidenhead...', has sexual
connotations as she swears by the fact that she was a virgin at 12
years old. Shakespeare uses the Nurse's frequent references to sex to
make the audience laugh. This will make them appreciate the Nurse
further as she is entertaining. The fact that in this scenario it is
Lady Capulet that feels uncomfortable also shapes the audience's
response as their first impression will be of someone who is not
humorous. In comparison with the Nurse, she seems harsh and strict,
for example, 'Enough of this. I pray thee, hold thy peace.' Lady
Capulet's speech reflects her conservative personality and in showing
the audience this it makes them realise her feelings through how she
speaks. Especially as the previous quote is aimed at the Nurse,...

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