How does Shakespeare develop the character of Juliet throughout the play?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's love story unfolds over a period of about four days, during which Juliet's character experiences a remarkable (and probably unrealistic!) transformation.  In the play's beginning, she is a child, thirteen years old, uninterested in her proposed marriage to Paris, but perhaps giving us a glimpse into a steelier side of her character all the same.  Her mother's attempt to discuss the marriage to Paris meets with Juliet's almost passive-aggressive response that she will try to love Paris as much as (but no more than) is expected of her.  Once she has encountered, and fallen in love with Romeo, however, she begins to function more and more as an adult.  When Romeo kills Tybalt and is thus banished from Verona, she makes a calculating, fairly thoughtful decision to follow him.  She understands that she will have to sever ties to all of the people currently in her life, including her family, but carries out the faked suicide plan nonetheless.  When she wakes up to find Romeo has died, she kills herself, but in a gutsier way.  While Romeo simply swallowed some poison, she pierces her own heart with a dagger and dies over his body.