What "joyful" news does Juliet's mother have in Act III, Scene 5? What is Juliet's response?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is the scene where Juliet's mom comes in after Juliet has just spent the night with Romeo.

When Lady Capulet comes in, she thinks that Juliet has been crying because of Tybalt's death.  She thinks her joyful news will help cheer Juliet up.  The good news is that Lord Capulet has agreed to have Juliet marry Paris in just a couple of days.  She expects that Juliet will be happy.

Instead, Juliet asks to put off the wedding for a while.  She is not sure she wants to marry Paris.  Lord Capulet is beyond furious.  He calls Juliet all sorts of horrible things and threatens to throw her out of the house if she doesn't obey him and marry Paris.

mercut1469's profile pic

mercut1469 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In Act III, Scene 5, Juliet has just said goodbye to Romeo after their honeymoon night. Romeo has been banished to Mantua because of his killing of Tybalt. Juliet is crying over Romeo when her mother enters her bedroom with news that Lord Capulet has decided to accept Count Paris's offer to marry Juliet. In a case of dramatic irony (the audience is aware of things not known by some characters), Juliet's parents know nothing of their daughter's previous marriage to Romeo. Moreover, her mother believes Juliet is crying over the death of Tybalt and not Romeo. Lady Capulet calls the news "joyful tidings," but Juliet is obviously shocked by this turn of events. She becomes distraught and immediately refuses the proposal:

Now, by Saint Peter’s Church, and Peter too,
He shall not make me there a joyful bride!
She also uses verbal irony (saying one thing but meaning something completely different) when she suggests she is not ready to marry, but if she did marry, it would be Romeo, someone she supposedly hates:
I will not marry yet, and when I do I swear
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
Rather than Paris. These are news indeed!
Her words are ironic because she obviously loves Romeo but cannot let her mother know about the relationship. A little later in the scene, her father learns of her intransigence, berating her and threatening to disown her and kick her out of the house if she doesn't marry Paris. The arrangement with Paris is one of the crucial elements which will ultimately lead to the suicides of Romeo and Juliet.

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