Is Capulet genuinely upset by his daughter's death in Romeo and Juliet?
To modern eyes, Lord Capulet probably seems like a cruel, overbearing, jerk of a father. However, in his time and social status it was quite common for fathers to choose husbands for their daughters. In his eyes, Juliet is the one who is being unreasonable!
Lord Capulet has an important station in society, and he is looked up to by many in Verona. To maintain his position, his daughter has to marry well. He would never approve of Romeo marrying his daughter, because of the feud. Remember that Juliet is his only child.
At the party, Capulet is willing to let Romeo stay because he does not want to make a scene. However, he has a man picked out for Juliet—his friend Paris. That was simply the way it was done. Paris is a noble and honorable husband, and he thinks he is a good match.
Capulet does ask Paris to “woo” Juliet.
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart;
My will to her consent is but a part.
An she agree, within her scope of choice
Lies my consent and fair according voice. (Act 1, Scene 2, p. 18)
He clearly wants her to fall for him, and he does not want to just push Paris on her. Of course, when Juliet does not agree he gets angry. Parents often say things to their children they later regret when their children frustrate them.
Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what—get thee to church a Thursday(165)
Or never after look me in the face.
Speak not, reply not, do not answer me! (Act 3, Scene 5)
When Juliet fakes her death, her father is genuinely sad. He becomes quite poetic, actually.
Death lies on her like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of all the field. (Act 4, Scene 5)
He is not just sad because she is dead, or because she can’t marry Paris. He is probably also sad that they were fighting recently. He didn’t mean those things he said to her, but she was trying him.
When Capulet notices that his daughter is bleeding, he is frustrated and confused because she is supposed to already be dead.
O heavens! O wife, look how our daughter bleeds! (Act 5, Scene 3)
In the end, Capulet is so moved that he and Montague end the feud. He also makes the extreme gesture of allowing Romeo to be buried in Juliet’s tomb, so they can continue for all time to lay side by side.
A pessimist might argue that Capulet was being coy, just trying to avoid getting in trouble. The prince was quite angry with them. However, Capulet did not have to make such a proposal. It shows he really did love his daughter.
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