What are your thoughts about Lord Capulet's behavior toward Juliet in Romeo and Juliet?
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To me, his behavior is kind of sad. I think this especially as a father with daughters.
At the start of the play, he is acting more or less the way I would hope I would act. He is taking his daughter's opinions into account. He tells Paris that Paris has to woo Juliet if he wants to marry her.
But then later in the play he totally turns around. After Tybalt is killed he completely ignores Juliet's wishes. He is really very nasty to her when she says she's reluctant to marry Paris.
I think it's sad that he went from good to bad (in my view) and I imagine that he regretted it after she was dead.
Very authoritarian and dictatorial and choleric, Lord Capulet wants his way and becomes extremely agitated when there are impediments to his will. It is a small wonder that he is involved in a feud with another family.
As indicated in the first act, Lord Capulet has a volatile temper, ignoring his wife's attempts to diffuse it by saying, "A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?" (I,i,49)
Given these impetuous and choleric actions in ActI and his subsequent behaviot toward Juliet in Act IV as he insists that she marry Paris, the reader wonders upon reexamination of the passage from the first act if Capulet was less concerned about Juliet than he was about the sincerity of Paris. For, he advises Paris that he is having a feast at which many fair maidens will be:
At my poor house look to behold this night/Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light./Such comfort as do lusty young men feel/When well-appareled April on the heel/Of limping winter treads, even such delight/Among fresh female buds shall you this night/Inherit at my house. (I,ii,24-30)
In addition, his point of view is chauvanistic. Perhaps, then, in Act IV, when Paris continues his pursuit of the marriage to Juliet, Capulet doubts less his sincerity, and has other personal motivations for pursuing the marriage such as the social standing of Paris and how his being wed to Juliet may improve the Capulet status. At any rate, when his own will is opposed, Lord Capulet becomes incensed.
Lord Capulet's reaction says a great deal about the chauvinistic gender roles and the view of men--particularly men of nobility--that women were property in these times.
I think this is pretty clear in the height of Capulet's rage at Juliet when he states "An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend;" Self-servingly, perhaps, Capulet has made the decision that Paris should be Juliet's husband, any words or actions to the contrary challenge his authority over what he views as his property and his decision.
It was very disappointing to see a change in Capulet near the end of the play. It is truth: During the Elizabeathean era, women's rights were not respected. In addition to viewing Juliet as property, Capulet also tells Juliet that if she doesn't marry Paris, she had better not look upon him ever again. He also calls her a "disobedient wretch." I believe that Juliet's father had a great deal to do with the death of his daughter. If he had not pressured her to marry Paris, she would not have had to fake her death, and so forth...
We all seem to feel similarly, but we have to consider historical criticism. During Shakespeare’s time, this would have been typical father behavior. Paris would have paid a dowry in order to join his lineage with the Capulet’s. Capulet would have been honor bound and financial liable to ensure his daughter completed the deal. We can’t assume that Shakespeare was making a commentary on gender inequality.
ask996 is correct in remembering the times the play was set in. Any woman of that time would not really have been able to marry for love. As a daughter you were an asset for your family to be carefully married off to someone who could give the family wealth and/or connections. This is the context - it is sometimes hard for us to remember that in our day and age where in the Western world at least we are able to marry for love. The family was the most important unit at that time - individualism was not something that would be respected. We have another example of this in the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. All members of this family are drawn into the feud, whether they like it or not. This sense of community was far more important than any individual hope or aspiration.
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