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What are Lady Capulet's intentions for wanting Juliet to marry Paris as seen in Act 3,...

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iamthemaster | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 10, 2013 at 12:12 AM via web

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What are Lady Capulet's intentions for wanting Juliet to marry Paris as seen in Act 3, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Does she actually want Juliet to get married or is she just fulfilling Lord Capulet's orders of telling Juliet that she is to get married? 

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tamarakh | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:56 AM (Answer #1)

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We see in the very third scene, the scene in which we meet Lady Capulet for the first time, that Lady Capulet is even more eager to marry off Juliet than Lord Capulet is. Therefore, we can surmise that Lady Capulet has her own reasons for wanting Juliet to marry Paris that are different from her husband's reasons.

We see Lord Capulet's initial hesitation at allowing Juliet to marry so young in the very second scene. When Count Paris asks him for his daughter's hand, apparently not for the first time, Lord Capulet replies that he feels his daughter is still too young to be married and tells Paris to "[l]et two more summers wither in their pride / Ere we think her ripe to be a bride" (I.ii.10-11). However, he changes his mind later on when he sees Juliet grieving so deeply over what he believes to be Tybalt's death. She is so deeply grieved that he worries about her sanity and her health, plus feels that marrying a good man like Paris will serve as a healthy distraction.

In contrast, Lady Capulet never shared her husband's hesitations. Instead, in Act 1, Scene 3, we see her trying to persuade her daughter to think of marrying Paris. She even uses as an argument that Lady Capulet herself was already Juliet's mother when she was Juliet's age, as we see in her lines:

By my count,
I was your mother much upon these years
That you are now a maid. (I.iii.75-77)

Not only that, while Lord Capulet responds to Paris's argument that even younger girls than Juliet are happily married by saying he feels she is too young and wants her to wait two more years, Juliet's mother argues the exact opposite. Lady Capulet, like Paris, tries to persuade Juliet by saying that younger girls than Juliet "[a]re made already mothers" (75). Hence we can say that since Lady Capulet disagreed with her husband's views on when Juliet should marry, Lady Capulet has her own motives for wanting Juliet to marry Paris so young. Her motives probably have a great deal to do with increased social standing and wealth. Paris, being a Count, is of much higher rank than Lord and Lady Capulet and owns a much wealthier estate. Therefore, his marriage to Juliet would greatly benefit the Capulets by increasing their social status as well as by increasing their daughter's wealth.

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