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In Romeo and Juliet, how does the character of the Nurse compare in Act II scene 5 and...

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dunyah | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 11, 2011 at 4:56 AM via web

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In Romeo and Juliet, how does the character of the Nurse compare in Act II scene 5 and Act I scene 3?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:21 PM (Answer #1)

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The character of the Nurse in this play is a very interesting one to analyse. Of course, in Act II scene 5 she brings Juliet news from Romeo about where and when to meet Romeo to marry him. Yet interestingly when she first enters she deliberately "plays" with Juliet, complaining about her health and keeping Juliet in suspense before delivering the news that the Nurse knows she wants so much to hear:

I am aweary, give me leave awhile.

Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunce have I!

She then goes on to talk about the relative merits of Romeo as a man, commenting on his physical qualities, until finally giving her the news that she has been waiting for:

Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence's cell;

There stays a husband to make you a wife.

Throughout she mocks Juliet and makes fun of her, refering to the "wanton blood" in her cheeks.

If we compare her presentation in this scene with her first entrance in the play, Act I scene iii, the Nurse is similar in terms of being a character who provides humour and is shown to be annoying Lady Capulet. She also is very much in favour of her charge marrying, especially to "such a man" as Paris, who is "a man of wax," in her words. However, what is key to note is the way that in the later scene, the Nurse comes to deliberately defy what she knows to be the will of her mistress by helping to organise a marriage between her charge and a Montague--the rival family that is so bitterly in conflict with the Capulets. In spite of her apparent approval of Paris as a match for Juliet, she goes behind her employer's back to help Juliet create an illicit liaison with Romeo.

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