Discuss how Juliet is unusual for a girl of her time in Act I, scene 5.  Would Elizabethan audiences have responded to Juliet?

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Act One, Scene Five of Romeo and Juliet is important because it marks the divergence from traditional protocol that sets up the ill fated relationship between the young lovers and it establishes the Capulets as no safer from the pitfalls of life than the audience watching the play.

Juliet is unusual for a girl of her time for many reasons. One, the daughters of prominent households would not usually put on public display. It is not likely that Juliet would have even been permitted to attend the party. Daughters of prominent households were rarely left unattended. Clearly Juliet had an inept nurse, but the likelihood that Juliet would have been left alone long enough to meet Romeo and been left alone to kiss him not once but twice is not probable.

In addition, Juliet is portrayed as different from girls of her time as she first allows Romeo (the aggressor) to kiss her in order to “take the sin from his lips,” but then she becomes the aggressor as she requires him to kiss her again and “take his sin” back. These are not the actions of young girls raised to be innocents until they could be married off for a dowry.

Audiences then are the same as they are now. Many in the audience would be well off, but not of such status perhaps as the Capulets, and they would recognize the mistakes the Capulets made with regard to the monitoring of their young daughter, and they would perhaps feel superior in that they of course would never allow this situation to befall upon their own daughters.


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Romeo and Juliet

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