What is the relationship between Lady Capulet and Juliet?
Is there anything from the text that shows their relationship? Please describe the relationship that they have by the words that they say to each other.
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Juliet and Lady Capulet do not appear to have a very close relationship. Throughout the play Juliet refers to her as “Madam” and not mother.
Early in the play, when her parents are attempting to get her to agree to the arranged marriage with Paris, Lady Montague says “Speak briefly—can you like of Paris’ love?” This shows that Lady Montague is not very interested in Juliet’s feelings about the man she is being asked to marry. She wants a quick answer.
Later, after Romeo has killed Tybalt and been banished, she mistakes Juliet’s unhappiness, thinking she is mourning Tybalt when she is really upset that Romeo must leave Verona. She tells Paris, “Tonight she is mewed up to her heaviness,” meaning that she’s consumed with grief over Tybalt, or so Lady Montague thinks.
Throughout the play it is the nurse that Juliet confides in and seeks comfort from. Her parents need to be deceived, from her point of view.
Much of the early activity in Romeo and Juliet revolves around duty, honor and responsibility. The servants are prepared to defend the name of the respective families they work for. Tybalt declares that he hates "all Montagues" and Paris seeks approval from Capulet to marry Juliet. Even Juliet is advised by her mother on marriage and the need to consider that she is now of an age to consider it.
The relationship between Juliet and her mother is obvious from the first time that the audience witnesses their interaction. The tone is set when Juliet greets her mother with an abrupt "what is your will?" (I.iii.7) It is significant that Lady Capulet expects the nurse to call Juliet and then, having thought to speak to Juliet privately, corrects herself, remembering that the nurse knows Juliet well. It is also interesting that the nurse wants to talk about Juliet's childhood and recall the special events but Lady Capulet is irritated by this and demands that the nurse "hold thy peace" (50). Most mothers would relish an opportunity to discuss their children and reminisce fondly. However, Lady Capulet just wants to get to the point and seizes her opportunity when she hears the nurse mention marriage. This interaction also reveals how uncomfortable she is to discuss this with Juliet and she does not engage with her except to ask her "dispositions to be married" (66). When Juliet tells her that "it is an honor that I dream not of" (67), her mother chastises her rather than sympathizing with her. Other than telling her that even she was not much older than Juliet when she had Juliet, and therefore suggesting that Juliet must accept the same, she is almost heartless when she tells her that Paris "seeks you for his lady love" (75).
Lady Capulet presses Juliet for her tacit or implied agreement and even asks Juliet to "speak briefly" (97). In other words, she does not really have a choice so discussion is a waste of time. It is lip-service and not sincere at all. Lady Capulet is purely removing any responsibility from herself. Juliet's response is equally telling because Juliet agrees to give the matter and Paris some thought and "your consent gives strength to make it fly" (100) is Juliet's way of telling her mother that she knows that even if her mother agrees that Juliet is not ready, it will not make much difference as the decision appears to have been already made. "No more deep will i endart mine eye" is confirming that Juliet will not read much into her mother's question as it seems that her mother is not giving her a choice anyway. Only when the audience sees Juliet's change of heart from not being interested in marriage to being prepared to renounce her family when she says in Act II, scene ii, "And I'll no longer be a Capulet" (36) does real love become the topic and the issue which will decide the fate of the two young lovers.
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