The Behavior of Juliet's Father in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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In Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, we are introduced to “a pair of star-cross’d lovers” and both of their families who are at conflict with each other. Capulet, Juliet’s father, is the central character in this piece of work and numerous times throughout the course of the play we notice his conduct and approach towards his daughter differs immensely. At times he can be seen as a caring and loving father and at other times he is perceived as being insensitive and selfish. The differences between Capulet’s behaviour can be said to be normal for the time period the play was set in and also in Verona’s culture it may have been acceptable. However in present times, we would cast negative judgement over Capulet and his actions because in our culture we would see them as appalling.

Act 3 Scene 5 shows the reader that Capulet wants the best for his daughter but does not go about his arrangements in the best of ways to please her. We first witness him in this scene becoming bad-tempered over the fact that Juliet has expressed to her mother that she will not marry Paris. Capulet states that the marriage is a “decree” which means that it is an order which Juliet is being expected to fulfil. It takes Capulet a while to grasp the fact that Juliet will not marry Paris, most likely as he is surprised at the fact that she would even consider disobeying him. Capulet’s astonishment may be due to the fact that as Juliet is only thirteen, he assumed that she would automatically do as he told her, as this was the normal thing for a girl of her age to do in Verona in the 1590’s. I would interpret Capulet’s attitude as that of an uncaring father who was forcing his thirteen year old child into a marriage where she was unlikely to be happy. This shows me that he cared nothing for his daughter or her feelings and was a cruel man.

Capulet would have looked bad in society if people had found out that Juliet had declined her father’s offer of marriage to a noble gentleman and disobeyed him because this would have been an unacceptable thing for her to do at this time. I already know that in Verona at this time, “Younger than she, are happy mothers made”, so it is now easier for me to understand Capulet’s discontentment. Capulet feels that Juliet should be thankful, proud and blessed to be as lucky as she is to have such a “worthy” man like Paris willing to marry someone as “unworthy as she is”. According to him, he has done what a father is expected to do which is to protect his child and find them an appropriate spouse who will continue to protect them. He has managed to find a worthy man for Juliet who is “a gentleman of noble parentage, of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly train’d, stuff’d as they say, with honourable parts, proportion’d as one’s thought would wish a man” but she doesn’t want to marry him. I could come to the conclusion that if Juliet hadn’t met Romeo she would have married Paris without any hesitation so maybe she is being the irrational...

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