In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet,  is it plausible to say that Lord Capulet's love for his daughter is egotistical?

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tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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I would argue that Lord Capulet's love for his daughter is genuine and not egotistical. We see him react shockingly passionately when Juliet refuses to marry Paris; however, we must remember that utmost obedience to a father was socially expected of a daughter in that time period. Juliet has shown him the utmost respect up until that moment; it is reasonable that he would be shocked to see her refuse to do his bidding now.

We know that Capulet's love for his daughter is genuine because we see it in his interactions with Paris. When Paris asks for his daughter's hand in marriage, and not just for the first time, Capulet replies what he has replied previously: that he thinks his daughter is too young and wants her to wait two more years, as we see in his lines:

She hath not seen the change of fourteen years;
Let two more summers wither in their pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride. (I.ii.9-11)

When Paris argues that women younger than Juliet often marry, Capulet retorts that they are married too young. He also points out that Juliet is really the one thing he has left on this earth, as we see in his very poetic lines, The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she; / She is the hopeful lady of my earth" (14-15). We also see in this scene just how much Capulet cares about Juliet because he states that his own consent to the marriage is only a part of what is necessary. He is more interested in Juliet's own consent to the marriage, as we see in his lines:

But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart;
My will to consent is but a part.
An she agree, within her scope of chice
Lies my consent and fair according voice. (16-19)

Hence, we see through this passage that Juliet's own happiness is very important to him, proving just how much he truly loves his daughter.

Although we do see how much Capulet truly loves his daughter, we can say that his reaction to her refusal is a bit drammatic, especially in light of this earlier speech. We may be able to attribute his reaction to temper, the same violent, rash temper that is perpetuating the feud with the Montagues. Hence, I think it can be argued that Capulet feels genuine love and a genuine since of pride for his daughter. However, his reaction to her refusal is dramatic because society required complete obedience from his daughter, and he has a rash, violent temper. But I do not see any excessive conceit in his feelings towards his daughter, which is how we would characterize egotism.

alison3000's profile pic

alison3000 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Yes I think you could argue that Lord Capulet's love for his daughter is egotistical. In that period of history daughters were expected to be married well and they were seen as a possession of their family. Capulet says in Act 3 Scene four that Juliet 'will be rul'd/ In all respects by me' which is why he is so angry about Juliet's rejection of Paris, whom he regards as a good match. Modern audiences are often shocked at the way the match is arranged without Juliet's consent.

I agree that he does swich easily from wedding to funeral mode but you need to remember that in that period death was ever present (the plague, for instance) so people were more accepting of it than maybe we are. People also believed in fate which could take people at any time. I do think that he lover Juliet but it is a different type of love than we expect.

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