Comment on the relationship between Juliet and her parents in the play Romeo and Juliet.

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of the play Juliet is the dutiful daughter. When asked whether she would like to marry Count Paris in Act I, Scene 3, she says she will take a look at Paris but will not do anything unless her parents give their permission. She says,

I’ll look to like, if looking liking move.
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
We also get the feeling, however, that she is not really that close to her parents.  She is much closer to the Nurse who is the first person she confides in about her relationship to Romeo. The Nurse basically raised Juliet, even to the point of breast feeding the girl. Obviously, Juliet does not have an ideal relationship with her parents or she would have told them she had fallen deeply in love with a Montague. Instead, she marries Romeo in secret without anyone's knowledge except the Nurse and Friar Laurence.
 
The relationship with her father is further strained when she refuses the arranged marriage with Paris. She is afraid to tell her father the truth about Romeo. Not knowing anything about the previous marriage, Capulet thinks she is being difficult and ungrateful. He loses his patience and tells her he will disown her. In Act III, Scene 5, Capulet says,
Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face.
Speak not; reply not; do not answer me.
Juliet gets a similar response from her mother who also does not understand what the girl is experiencing. Lady Capulet says,
Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word.
Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.
 
In defense of Juliet's parents it's easy to think they are just doing what they think is right for their daughter. Capulet sets up the marriage with Paris in order to overcome the grief the family is feeling over the death of Tybalt. It's hard to know what would have happened if Juliet had leveled with her parents and told them about Romeo. The only hint we have comes in Act I, Scene 5, when Capulet tells Tybalt to leave Romeo alone at the party. Capulets says,
Content thee, gentle coz. Let him alone.
He bears him like a portly gentleman,
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-governed youth.
Capulet thinks well of Romeo. Therefore it is possible that, as Friar Laurence hoped, Capulet might understand, and the feud could be brought to an end. Of course, the story was already plotted, and from the opening lines of the Prologue, we know that tragedy is in store for the "star-crossed" lovers. 
 
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Romeo and Juliet

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