By Act III, scene v, what has developed in the story of Romeo and Juliet and what conflict does it cause between Juliet and Lady Capulet?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The awakening of scene v in Act III of Romeo and Juliet reveals that after Romeo has left the secret bridal bed with the song of the lark, Lady Capulet comes at an unusual and early hour to announce to Juliet that her father has arranged for her to be wed to the young nobleman Paris. Juliet responds by declining to wed, ironically saying that she would marry Romeo--who has slain her beloved cousin Tybalt--sooner than she would wed Paris (the audience knows the full import of Juliet's statement while Lady Capulet is unaware). Lord Capulet himself comes to confirm the news with Juliet--he expects thanks, gladness and rejoicing that he has made his daughter so advantageous a wedding match.

When he hears from Lady Capulet and Juliet herself that Juliet will not accept a wedding match, he loses his temper--a fact that Nurse reprimands him for--and threatens Juliet with harm if she doesn't comply. He says he will drag her to church to be wed if she will not go of her own accord. He says that if she won't wed, he will cease to acknowledge her and will forbid anyone from doing her good, such as giving her food or shelter. When he leaves Juliet's chamber, Juliet turns to Lady Capulet, her mother, for understanding and help. This is when the depth of the conflict becomes apparent, a conflict that goes far beyond the notion of "tension." Lady Capulet replies to Juliet saying,

Talk not to me, for I'll not speak a word:
Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.

This response--shocking in light of Lord Capulet's pronouncements of complete abandonment of Juliet if she does not wed Paris--isn't a complete surprise. Earlier, Shakespeare foreshadowed Lady Capulet's attitude and response in her hyperbolic statement to Lord Capulet:

I would the fool [Juliet] were married to her grave!

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Romeo and Juliet

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