How does love operate between Lord and Lady Capulet, Juliet, Nurse, and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare?

Expert Answers info

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write5,918 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

These characters are all members of the Capulet family, so on the most basic level, familial love operates (well or poorly) between them. Lord and Lady Capulet are a loving man and wife. Juliet is their much beloved daughter. They are torn between protecting her, "She is not fourteen," and advancing her position and happiness in life: "[your] careful father, child; / ... / Hath sorted out a sudden day of joy [for you]." Nonetheless, their love cannot fathom Juliet's mysterious secret when on one day she is obedient, compliant and trusting, "I'll look to like, if looking liking move," and on the next, she is obstinate and recalcitrant, refusing her parent's wishes, though they know Juliet returns their love:

He shall not make me there a joyful bride.
...
when I do [marry] I swear,
It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
Rather than Paris. (III.v)

Nurse, of course, is Juliet's nanny, her nurse from of old. Nurse has loved Juliet and raised her like she was her own. Juliet loves Nurse, trusting and depending upon her, which is what is to be expected from such a strong bond. As proofs, Juliet sends Nurse to learn Romeo's intentions for marriage, and Nurse is devastated by Juliet's seeming death after taking Friar Laurence's potent concoction:

Alas, alas! Help, help! my lady's dead!
O, well-a-day, that ever I was born! (IV.v)

Tybalt is Lady Capulet's nephew (some sources say Lord Capulet's nephew) and seems to live in the Capulet manor because (1) he is already at the party when the other guests arrive and (2) it was common practice in the Renaissance for relatives to live with wealthier ones. As Lady Capulet's nephew, Tybalt is subject to Lord Capulet's authority and command as we see at the party when Capulet commands Tybalt to leave Romeo alone and not to cause battle and bloodshed at the party:

Capulet. Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone.
    'A bears him like a portly gentleman,
Tybalt. I will withdraw; but this intrusion shall,
    Now seeming sweet, convert to bitt'rest gall. (I.v)

Yet there seems to be no love in Tybalt's heart for anyone. He seethes at Capulet for forcing him to leave Romeo in peace. He rushes against Benvolio refusing to believe Benvolio's assertion that he was trying to enforce the peace, not make war. Benvolio described him to Prince Escalus as having been vicious and seemingly without restraint.

Benvolio. The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar'd;
    Which, as he breath'd defiance to my ears,
    He swung about his head and cut the winds,

Shakespeare expects the audience/reader to trust Benvolio because there were laws against bearing false witness againstt another person, or lying about someone else's behavior or actions.  Since Benvolio does not lie to the Prince, the love within Tybalt's breast, if it is there, is fairly well disguised.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
Megan Clauhs eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write36 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

The love between the members of the house of Capulet is as complex and dysfunctional as most families today.

While Lady Capulet is the picture of a devoted wife, her relationship with Lord Capulet can be interpreted a number of ways—as an abusive husband and his meek wife, as two social climbers who care less for affection and more for power, or as two people who do love each other but have no idea how to raise a child.

Both Lord and Lady Capulet have a complex relationship with Juliet. Lord Capulet appears to care about Juliet, insisting she is too young to marry, and though he appears strict with her after Tybalt's death, one can easily interpret this as his fear that the civil strife between his family and the Montagues will claim the life of his daughter next. His anger, while frightening, is more likely a sign that he is scared and unsure of how to handle his daughter's newfound backbone.

Lady Capulet seems less fond of her daughter. Their interactions are stilted and awkward, and one can easily imagine that Lady Capulet does not understand her daughter and is only too happy to hand her over to the Nurse. In fact, Lady Capulet seems to genuinely love her nephew Tybalt in a way she does not love Juliet, implying that perhaps Lady Capulet was disappointed she could not have given her husband a son.

Lord Capulet, on the other hand, does not seem to like Tybalt very much. He openly chastises him at the masquerade, and it is perhaps the chip on his shoulder about his place in the Capulet family that drives Tybalt to antagonize Mercutio.

Though we never directly see Juliet and Tybalt interact, we know that Juliet loves her cousin; after she learns that Romeo has killed him, she is torn between grieving for her cousin and standing by her husband's side. Ultimately, she takes the side of her husband.

The most loving relationship in this family is, oddly enough, between two people who are not related. Juliet and the Nurse are closer than anyone; it is the Nurse and no one else to whom Juliet confides her love for Romeo and her secret marriage. It is also the Nurse who urges Juliet to marry Paris, thinking that this will be the best option for Juliet.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Unlock This Answer Now