When Juliet says, "Madam I am here, what is your will?" in  act 1, scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet  how does it show obedience towards Lady Capulet?

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

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Lady Capulet has been looking for Juliet and wants to share important information with her. When she finally finds her, Juliet shows her mother the required respect and courtesy that was tradition at the time. By formally addressing her mother as 'madam', Juliet is indicating her respect for her mother.

The term also suggests obedience, for a madam takes charge of her servants and instructs them what to do. In this regard, therefore, Juliet respects her mother's authority and is ready to follow her instructions. 'What is your will?' emphasizes this, since Juliet wishes her mother to instruct her and she will do what she requests - it is the same address a servant would use when speaking to a master or madam.

It is therefore clear that Juliet knows her place and is obedient to her mother. She does not question why her mother is looking for her, but shows a willingness to carry out whatever instruction her mother issues. Juliet's courtesy clearly indicates that she unquestionably recognizes her mother's authority and that she would obey her. 

This obedience is further emphasized later when Juliet is instructed by her mother to consider getting married and become acquianted with Paris since he has expressed an interest in marrying her. Juliet does not challenge her mother's request and says:

But no more deep will I endart mine eye

Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

This suggests that Juliet will only allow herself to fall in love with or become endeared to Paris for so much as her mother would permit.

litteacher8's profile pic

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Juliet is formally asking her mother what she wants her to do.  This demonstrates obedience because she seems ready to do what her mother asks.

In Act 1, Juliet is very obedient.  She is mostly respectful to her mother, and considerate to her father.  When she asks her mother what she wants, she does it in a formal and polite fashion. 

When Lady Capulet asks Juliet how she feels about marriage, her response is reserved and polite.

It is an honour that I dream not of. (Act 1, Scene 3)

Juliet does not want to marry.  She thinks she is too young.  But she goes along with the discussion because she wants to be polite and because in her culture parents decide for their children.  Juliet has no say.

Juliet’s obedience is not a bad thing on its face, but it has tragic consequences.  If her parents had not tried to enforce their will on her, she and Romeo might have still been alive.


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