In Act IV, Scene V of Romeo and Juliet, what are the reactions to Juliet's apparent death?

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tamarakh's profile pic

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

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The first reactions we see are Nurse's and her parents' reactions. All three are very shocked to find that Juliet died so unexpectedly and so young. Lord Capulet refers to the untimeliness of her death when he states, "Death lies on her like an untimely frost." This metaphor alludes to the fact that when the frost season arrives too soon, the crops die. He further states that the frost has fallen "upon the sweetest flower of the field," referring to Juliet's youth and beauty.

Friar Laurence's response is a little more harsh. He openly blames Juliet's parents for her death, saying that they were too ambitious to try and marry her so soon. We see him speak of ambition in the line, "For 'twas your heaven she should be advanced and weep ye now, seeing she is advanced." The term advanced refers to their ambitions in seeing her married so soon to a wealthy man, but then Friar Laurence makes an analogy between their ambition and the fact that she is now ascended into heaven. Since he blames them for her death, he also accuses them of loving their "child so ill," meaning so poorly. Finally, he counsels that she would not have been happily married at such a young age by saying, "She's not well married that lives married long."

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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In this scene of Romeo and Juliet, the first person to react to Juliet's apparent death is the Nurse. On discovering Juliet's lifeless body, she repeatedly cries out for "help" while also cursing the day she was born:

Oh, welladay, that ever I was born!

As she continues to cry out, she calls for brandy ("aqua vitae") and calls this day a sad one ("lamentable").

For Lady Capulet, the death of her daughter is a moment of crisis. She claims that if Juliet does not wake up, for instance, she will die with her. This is because her love for Juliet is her only reason for living:

My child, my only life!

Next, Juliet's father enters the room and uses a metaphor to describe his loss. Specifically, he compares Juliet to a flower, killed by an "untimely frost." He uses a similar metaphor later in the scene when he compares Juliet to a flower that has been destroyed by death. Note the sexual connotations of the word "deflowered." Capulet is comparing death to the act of losing one's virginity, as a means of emphasizing Juliet's youth and purity.

For Count Paris, Juliet's death prompts anger and frustration. He personifies death, for example, and claims that it has tricked ("beguiled") Juliet, leaving him without his only love.

Finally, Friar Lawrence encourages the Capulet family to come to terms with Juliet's death. He reminds them that it was through God's (and Heaven's) help that she was born and it is to God that she has now returned. For him, then, Juliet's death is part of the natural cycle of life.

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