Do we feel sympathy for Lord Capulet after Juliet refuses to marry Paris in Romeo and Juliet?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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It is very difficult for modern readers or audiences to sympathize much with Capulet, because our view of marriage, as well as the relationship between father and daughter, is quite different than it was during Shakespeare's time. So when he screams at her, calling her such awful names as "disobedient wretch" and "green-sickness carrion," he appears loathsome to our sensibilities. Indeed, in light of the plot, Shakespeare seems to be portraying him that way for his contemporaries. Yet it should be remembered that marriages between noble families in the medieval and early modern periods were often concluded for social and political reasons rather than for love. It was Juliet's duty to obey here father and to marry Paris, just as it was her father's duty to secure a suitable husband for Juliet. So while his behavior is reprehensible, it is perhaps more understandable in Shakespeare's day than it would be in our own. In his world, Capulet has done nothing wrong by promising Juliet to Paris. Indeed, this is what he was supposed to do, and Juliet's response must have struck him as ingratitude in the extreme. For the audience, privy to Juliet's marriage to Romeo, it just underscores what a strong woman she has become. To resist the will of one's father was no small thing for a teenaged girl at the time.