How does the relationship between Juliet and her nurse change throughout Romeo and Juliet?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Juliet's nurse transforms from guardian to friend in the course of Romeo and Juliet.  At the beginning of the play, the nurse acts as guardian of Juliet.  She hopes for Juliet to wed Paris, telling Juliet, "Go,girl, seek happy nights to happy days" (1.3.110).  Looking closely, the reader will see that it is the nurse who informs both Juliet and Romeo of their respective families in order to discourage their love.  First, without being at all rude, the nurse responds to Romeo's request as to the identity of Juliet's mother.  In regards to Juliet, the nurse tries to name all the other gentlemen going out the door in order to avoid the truth about the man she fears Juliet loves.  However, as the nurse learns the true nature of Juliet's feelings, the nurse's heart weeps for her sweet Juliet.  She willingly goes to seek out the information requested, even by going into the midst of teenage boys and saying, "If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with you" (2.4.124).  Upon returning to Juliet, and seeing how Juliet hangs on her every word, hoping to hear about her future marriage to Romeo, the nurse does what any good friend would do:  she teases Juliet.

I am aweary, give me leave awhile. / Fie, how my bones ache!  What a jaunce have I had! / . . . / Lord, how my head aches!  What a head have I!  It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces. (2.5.28-29,49-50)

Juliet is beside herself, longing for the news.  Juliet tries to get her friend, her "sweet nurse" to talk more plainly by asking her to be more specific only to be met with, "Where is your mother?" (2.5.58).  Only when Juliet is at her wits end does the nurse say:

Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence' cell; / There stays a husband to make you a wife.  (2.5.70-71)

From this moment on, the nurse does nothing but help the two be together.  Even in the very next line she vows to get a ladder so that Romeo can come to Juliet's room that night and consummate the marriage.  What a friend!

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