Juliet

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Juliet

The balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet as depicted by Ford Madox Brown in an 1870 painting
CreatorWilliam Shakespeare
PlayRomeo and Juliet
Family
AssociatesThe Nurse
RoleProtagonist
 
  (Redirected from Juliet Capulet)
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Juliet

The balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet as depicted by Ford Madox Brown in an 1870 painting
CreatorWilliam Shakespeare
PlayRomeo and Juliet
Family
AssociatesThe Nurse
RoleProtagonist

Juliet is one of the title characters in William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the other being Romeo. She is the daughter of old Capulet, head of the house of Capulet. The story has a long history that precedes Shakespeare himself.

Contents

Relationships

The play takes place over a time span of four days. Within these few days, Juliet is thrust into adulthood quickly—where she must deal with issues of life, love, passion, and even death. During the play she is courted by a potential husband (Count Paris), falls in love with another (Romeo), marries Romeo secretly, experiences the death of her cousin Tybalt, has one brief passionate night with her new husband before he is forced to leave the city, is threatened by her father and nearly disowned by both of her parents for refusing to marry the man they have chosen for her, she is emotionally betrayed by the nurse who raised her from infancy, spends nearly two days drugged to unconsciousness, is widowed, and ultimately commits suicide near the body of her dead husband.

Shakespeare's Juliet is a headstrong and intelligent character in spite of her young age, though she often seems timid to the audience because of her young age. She is considered by many to be the true hero of the play, acting as a sounding board and a balance against the impulsive Romeo. It is Juliet who sets the boundaries of behavior in her relationship with Romeo: she allows him to kiss her, she pledges her commitment before him, and it is she who suggests their marriage. Juliet's forgiveness of Romeo after he kills Tybalt indicates her mature nature in contrast to his passionate impulsiveness. Furthermore, Juliet lies and clandestinely subverts her family's wishes, a truly rebellious action against traditional Italian society. These actions and the choices they require establish Juliet as a far more complex character than her family, or even Romeo, appreciate.

Character history

Juliet's wealthy and rich family lived in Verona, headed by old Capulet and his wife. She was their only child and was thought of as a gift from heaven. As a child, she was cared for by her nurse, who is now her confidante, or Juliet's caretaker.

In Juliet's first scene, she demonstrates her obedience and lack of experience in the world, outlining herself as inexperienced and in many ways dependent on her parents and nurse. She has not given marriage a second thought but she does want to do what her mother asks. It is high time that Juliet go the route Lady Capulet went in her youth, and be married to a rich and powerful gentleman like her father. The Count Paris is a bit of a bystander in the play however, unwittingly mixed up in the drama between the families. The to-be couple only ever met once in the Friar Lawrence's cell, which was very brief. His interest in her is primarily based on her social standing and her family's vast wealth, in contrast to her youthful beauty. He politely and nobly asks Capulet for her hand, and apparently would like her to begin bearing his children as soon as physically possible: "Younger than she are happy mothers made" (1.2.12). Juliet, on the other hand, has no interest in becoming a wife and the mother of Paris's children: "(Marriage) is an honour that I dream not of" (1.3.68). Even her father at first considers her too young to settle down. This may be a reflection on his feelings about his own wife, who might have been happier waiting a few years before marrying him. He tells Paris to let Juliet grow up for a few more years before planning marriage, but he pompously disagrees (1.2.10–11). Of course, Juliet's mind on the matter changes within a few minutes of meeting Romeo, but when Paris is mentioned to her by her mother in act three she reverts back to an immature, whining, almost infantile state. Romeos very presence seems to propel her toward maturity however, and her pagal are made quickly but thoughtfully from that point forward.

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Juliet's famous lines in the play Romeo and Juliet[1]

Romeo too seems to achieve depth through his intense love with Juliet. When compared to the pining and frustration he exhibited during his crush on Rosaline, his behavior toward Juliet and her family and his attitude in general both show a level of great maturity. The feud that one day had seemed all-encompassing now makes no sense, and he abandons it. Much of Romeo's dialogue with Juliet is an intricate pattern of words. Their rhyming couplets sometimes come together to create a poem. This symbolizes their union, and shows that Juliet can easily match Romeo in wordplay.

It is not clear exactly why Romeo and Juliet love each other, beyond immediate physical attraction. They were married not 24 hours after their first meeting. Fate plays a constant role in the story. Their love is "death-marked" (1.1.9), the lovers are "star-crossed" (1.1.6), and Romeo feels he is being led by the stars as a ship is steered by its pilot. The idea may be that the heirs to these two families were fated to end up together to end the feud, and their deaths may or may not have been part of that fate. The play may be interpreted differently according to the whim of the reader or viewer. The series of disastrous events that leads to their deaths may have been just a part of the destiny, or it may have been what shattered the fate and made the story a true tragedy. Either way, peace comes to the families.

Juliet's age

One aspect of the story which now seems problematic is Juliet's age. As the story occurs, Juliet is approaching her fourteenth birthday. She was born on "Lammas Eve at night" (August 1), so Juliet's birthday is July 31 (1.3.19). Her birthday is "a fortnight hence", putting the action of the play in mid-July (1.3.17). Her father states that she "hath not seen the change of fourteen years" (1.2.9). In many cultures and time periods, women did and do marry and bear children at an early age. Romeo and Juliet is a play about Italian families. Lady Capulet had given birth to her first child by the time she had reached Juliet's age: "By my count, I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid" (1.3.74–75). Shakespeare not only explicitly had the characters state Juliet's age of between 13 and 14, but also subtly emphasized her age through numeric symbolism. The name "Juliet Capulet" has exactly 13 letters in it, and she is the 13th character to appear on stage. Romeo also calls her name 14 times in the play.[2] This suggests that he was putting importance on Juliet's age and youth to emphasize her immaturity.

In the English poem the story is based from (Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke)[3] Juliet is approaching her sixteenth birthday. Even Capulet tries to encourage Paris to wait a little longer before even thinking of marrying his daughter, feeling that she is still too young; "She hath not seen the change of fourteen years, Let two more summers wither in their pride, Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride". The common English people of that age were very rarely in their teens when they married and even among the nobility and gentry of the age, brides thirteen years of age were rare, at about one in one thousand brides; in that era, the vast majority of English brides were at least nineteen years of age when they first married, most commonly at about 22 years, and most English noblewomen were at least sixteen when they married. That the parts of young women were played by pre-adolescent boys in Shakespeare's day also cannot be overlooked and it is possible that Shakespeare had the physique of a young boy in mind during composition, in addition to the fact that Romeo and Juliet are of wealthy families and would be more likely to marry earlier than commoners[4].

In today's Verona

Casa di Giulietta

Juliet's purported balcony, in Verona. Beneath it, on the walls, there are love letters.
The entrance wall known as Juliet's wall

In Verona, a house claiming to be the Capulets' has been turned into a tourist attraction. It features the balcony, and in the small courtyard, a bronze statue of Juliet. It is one of the most visited sites in the town. The metal of its chest is worn bare due to a legend that if a person strokes the right breast of the statue, that person will have good fortune.[5]

Many people write their names and the names of their beloved ones on the walls of the entrance, known as Juliet's wall. Many believe that writing on that place will make their love everlasting. After a restoration and cleaning of the building, it was intended that further writing should be on replaceable panels[6] or white sheets[7] placed outside the wall.

It is also a tradition to put small love letters on the walls (which is done by the thousands each year), which are regularly taken down by employees to keep the courtyard clean.[8]

Club di Giulietta

Since the 1930s, letters addressed to Juliet keep arriving in Verona. As of 2010, more than 5,000 letters are received annually, three quarters of which are from women. The largest single group of senders are American teenagers.[9] The letters are read and replied to by local volunteers, organized since the 1980s in the Club di Giulietta (Juliet Club), which is financed by the City of Verona.[9] The club has been the subject of a book by Lise and Ceil Friedman and is the setting for a 2008 book by Suzzane Harper and a 2010 USA movie, Letters to Juliet.

Performers

A number of famous actresses have portrayed the role of Juliet:

Animation

Fictional performers

Notes

References

Further reading

External links