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Essay: Parent/child relationships & character motivation in Romeo & Juliet

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When would a parent rethink their position on a plan for their child if the child did not accept it?  Give an example of conflicting plans between a child and a parent.  When would a parent decide not to press the issue any longer and relent to the child’s wishes? 

An example of conflicting plans between a child and a parent is shown in Act 4 Scene _ of Romeo and Juliet. In my opinion, a parents should never press the a issue on a child or force them to do certain things in the first place. I understand that all parents have plans that they believe are for the best, however, they should also understand that their children also has a plans of their own and they should be the ones that should provide guidance and support.

What was the relationship between Capulet and his daughter?  Be specific in your answer and cite examples from the play. 

At the beginning of the play, the relationship between Capulet and Juliet seems very close. From the audience’s perspective, we can see that Capulet is very considerate and protective of his daughter especially when Paris was asking for permission to marry Juliet. He refuses to let her marry saying that she’s still too young and utimately leaves the decision completely up to Juliet. We can see it in the following lines:

As the play continues to progress, we can see Capulet’s sudden shift of behaviour when one of his nephews (Tybalt) dies. Contary to what he said in the beginning, he wants Juliet to marry Paris as soon as possible to ease her sorrow. However, I think Capulet is far more concerned with their family’s social standing rather than Juliet’s well-being and happiness. When Juliet defies his order, he responds in an agressive mannner and threatens Juliet that he will put her out on the street to die rather than tolerate her insubordination. This is demonstrated in the ff lines:

Why does Capulet change from abusing his daughter to being grief stricken after her apparent death? (May 12)

Lord Capulet changed from being an abusive father to being grief stricken after her death probably because he felt guilty and somewhat felt like he is to blame for her daughter’s death. In the scene before, the scene got very fesity causing him to lose out of control and say very degrading words to Juliet such as “Out you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage! You tallow-face!” Knowing how hot-tempered capulet can be, he probably didn’t mean those things he said to her, but she was trying him. Now that she’s dead, he probably feels sorry for being too controlling and he finally realized how important she was to him, especially since she’s an only child.

Do you think Capulet truly loved his daughter?  Why or why not?  Provide evidence from the play as support for your answer

In my perspective, I believe Capulet does indeed love his daughter Juliet. However, he definitely has his own character flaws. He is prideful, arrogant, and very hot tempered. Not only do these character flaws show up earlier in the play, more importantly, they show up in Act 3, Scene 5 when Juliet refuses to marry Paris. Hence, Capulet’s ungoverned display of character flaws in this scene makes it seem like he doesn’t truly love her. We must also remember that in this time period, parents expected absolute obedience of their children so his reactions are quite understanble.

The first evidence we see showing that Capulet truly loves Juliet is with respect to his first answer to Paris’s plea for her hand in marriage. We learn that as his only child left, Juliet has become very important to him, and he is not just yet willing to let her grow up. We also learn that he values his daughter’s opinion, and will only consent to Paris’s request if she agrees as well, which is positive proof that he does indeed love is his daughter, as we see in his lines:

My will to her consent is but a part.

An she agree, within her scope of choice

Lies my consent and fair according voice.

(I.ii.17-19)

What do you think Juliet thought of her father?  Provide evidence from the play as support for your answer.

Juliet probably resents her father a lot, especially when he said those hurtful words towards her instead of listening to what she has to say. She probably feels as if her opinions don’t matter and she doesn’t have the power to voice out her concerns. However, she remains respectful and unassertive towards her father even she doesn’t particularly agree with him. The reason being, she’s aware of the authority that her father possesses and how he is fully capable of throwing her out to the streets if she remains stubborn. In short, she’s afraid of her father because she knows the things that he’s capable of doing even to his own daughter.

Do you think Lady Capulet loved her daughter?  Why or why not?  Provide evidence from the play to support your answer (May 13)

Although Juliet and Lady Capulet’s relationship wasn’t very close, I still believe that Lady Capulet truly loved her daughter. We have to keep in mind that the play was set in 1400s where arranged marriage and patriarchal family is the norm. I believe Lady Capulet just wanted the best for Juliet but as parents, they failed to consider how Juliet’s feelings which lead to her apparent death. In Act 4 Scene _, Her reaction to Juliet’s death shows that she is genuinely shocked and devastated to see the cold, lifeless body of her daughter. She even claims that if Juliet does not wake up, for instance, she will die with her. This is because her love for Juliet is her only reason for living.

‘O me, O me! My child, my only life,’

Character motivations:

Why does Juliet not tell the nurse , her companion and mother figure about her secret to feign death?  What do you think of the nurse based on her decisions? 

Juliet decided not to tell her nurse about her plans of faking her death because she is well aware that the Nurse will go against it. As we all know, the nurse treats Juliet as her own daughter and will probably get worried that Juliet may actually end up dying because of the vial. There’s also a possibility that the Nurse will tell her parents her fake death which will ruin everything that Juliet and Friar Laurence had previously planned. Based on the nurse’s decisions, I think she’s very rational despite the foolish personality that she demonstrated in the beginning. She tries to convice Juliet to forget about Romeo and marry Paris instead not because she wants to betray Juliet but because she wants to protect Juliet at all costs. The Nurse changes her mind about Juliet’s marriage arrangements because, she loves Juliet like a daughter, and sees the destructive effect Romeo’s love has on her and her future lifestyle.

Why does the nurse not tell the Capulets about the secret marriage of Romeo and Juliet?  Afterall, everyone believes that Juliet is dead now, why not tell Capulet the truth? Could it have something to do with her relationship with Capulet?  Is she too afraid of him?  What is she afraid of?

The nurse did not tell the Capulets about the secret marriage of Romeo and Juliet because she was an ally. She acted as a messenger, encouraged the secret marriage, and even helped Romeo secretly enter Juliet’s bedchamber. She was the one who tolerated Romeo and Juliet’s actions so she can be held accountable for it once the Capulets know about the situation. The nurse knows about the bad temper that Capulet has so I think she might be afraid of getting severely punished. I believe she is also looking out for Juliet and doesn’t want her to get in trouble. Due to this, she decided to keep information that she knows to herself.

Why does the Friar not tell Capulet and Montague about the secret marriage and convolute the matter more with more deception?  Wasn’t this marriage between Romeo and Juliet supposed to bring the feuding families together?  Why does he not reveal he has married them ? Is he scared of something? (May 14)

Friar Laurence did not tell the Capulets about the secret marriage and deceived them because he’s hoping that Juliet’s “death” will force the parents to realize how much they love their daughter. Friar Laurence hopes that when Juliet is “returned to life” Lord and Lady Capulet will be so overjoyed that she is alive that they will be reasonable about her marriage and seek to ameliorate their relationship with the Montagues. As for the marriage, Friar does not publicise the fact that the two are married, for fear of blame and contempt.

Was there another option for Juliet rather than a death like state?

Yes, she could’ve took the nurse’s advice and pretend as if the marriage between him and Romeo never took place. Besides, there aren’t any witnesses that could testify whether their marriage is legitimate, except for Friar. Romeo has now been exiled, and their future together is not guaranteed. Everything works out perfectly. However, because Juliet has fallen deeply in love with Romeo, she’s ready to sacrifice everything for their so-called love-including her own life. This is shown in Act 4 Scene _ where she says the following lines to Friar during their conversation: “If everything else fail, Myself have to power to take my own life”, indicating that she would rather commit suicide than marry Paris.

What do you think of Friar Laurence?  Is he a hero, a villain, a coward?  Explain.

I think Friar Laurence truly has a sincere intention but he was acting hastily and didn’t fully think of the consequences of his actions before acting upon it making him a coward. The secret marriage could never have happened without Friar, and because he helps them get married, he is also responsible for the aftermath. We first see him commit a selfish act when he says his reasons for agreeing to marry them. “I’ll thy assistant be; / for this alliance may so happy prove,/ to turn your households rancour to pure love”. / (II, iii 90-92) He is not thinking about what could happen to Romeo and Juliet, he is only thinking about them ending the feud. Later on, he commits another impulsive decision in Act 4 where he gives Juliet the sleeping potion without having a solid concrete plan. He didn’t consider the odds and how risky the situation is. Being the a trusted adult figure, he should’ve come up with a more practical plan for the two to be reunited or at least made sure that their plan would work flawlessly.

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