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The Character Of The Nurse In Romeo And Juliet

2630 words - 11 pages

The Character of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet

The Nurse has a very important role in the play, being Juliet’s
closest friend and helping her in her illicit relationship with Romeo.
Her position in the Capulet household is superior to that of a normal
servant. She is very familiar when she talks to Lady Capulet, and at
times oversteps the mark. She talks about the daughter she once had
and lost, and it is evident that Juliet is like a replacement and the
Nurse lavishes all her motherly love and protectiveness on Juliet. She
is bossy to the other servants, we see this in the beginning when she
gives orders to Peter and bosses him around. She is not very
intelligent, and is a fairly simple person, which makes her an easy
target for Mercutio’s sarcastic comments. She is very long-winded when
she talks, and is very rude, however she is extremely honest, and
makes the audience laugh. This is one of her main functions in the
play; Shakespeare put her there to provide humour in dark, sad times.
As the play goes on, we see that however much she tries to help the
two lovers with their relationship, she is too shallow to understand
the pure, true love that they share. This, ultimately distances her
from Juliet to the point where Juliet feels that she can no longer
trust her lifetime friend, and carries her burden on her own.

It is normally the Nurse who talks rubbish that doesn’t make sense,
but in Act 3 Scene 2, it is the other way round. It’s Juliet who is
talking nonsense, beginning the scene with a long speech, with lots of
metaphors, and long-winded language, asking the gods to make the night
come quicker so that she can be with Romeo. Meanwhile the Nurse is
making all the plans for the lover’s first night as a married couple,
such as throwing rope ladder for Romeo.

The night before her wedding day, Juliet waits for Romeo with
excitement. The Nurse enters the room with the rope ladder that Romeo
is to use to climb into Juliet’s room, but throws it down tiredly and
sighs “ Ah well a day! He’s dead, he’s dead…we are undone lady”. The
Nurse goes on and on, until Juliet thinks that she is talking about
Romeo. After she has calmed down, she tells Juliet that Romeo killed
Tybalt in a street fight, and tells that Juliet that no man can be
trusted. The Nurse begins to feels sorry for herself, saying, “give me
some aqua vitae...these grief’s…woes…make me old.” Juliet curses Romeo
using insults such as, “bright smoke” and “cold fire”,

Juliet’s anger at the Nurse’s criticism of Romeo shows her loyalty to
Romeo, and she quickly overcomes her initial reaction to Tybalt’s
death, showing that true love conquers all. Juliet exclaims,
“blistered be thy tongue” to the Nurse. With these words, she
effectively forgives Romeo, and the strong language she uses are in
stark contrast with...

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