How does the nurse add humor to the first three acts?

Expert Answers info

brendawm eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write322 answers

starTop subject is Literature

The nurse is depicted as a practical, down-to-earth character and she is often interpreted as a comic foil to Juliet. (A foil is a character who through strong contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive qualities of another character.) The nurse's main role in the play is as a companion and advisor to Juliet. In the first three acts the nurse takes it upon herself to make sure that Romeo's intentions are honorable, since Juliet is young and inexperienced. The nurse, with her bumbling mannerisms and her bawdy language, is often thought to be one of Shakespeare's great comic characters. She is a talkative woman and tends to repeat herself and to free-associate in her conversations. When she and Lady Capulet and Juliet are about to discuss Paris's offer for the first time, she repeats a story about Juliet as a toddler several times. Lady Capulet has to ask her to stop. When she brings the message back to Juliet from Romeo, Juliet has to ask her to get to the point faster. Under pressure, she also talks in a confusing style that misleads her listener. Another aspect of the nurse's conversation is that she does not mind making vulgar jokes. She even does so with Juliet, since the jokes pertain to Juliet's wedding night and the possibility of pregnancy. The nurse also converses in this vulgar manner with Mercutio.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial