How does Juliet interact with her parents?

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet Capulet is generally obedient to her parents, but their somewhat distant relationship becomes increasingly strained throughout the play. Lady Capulet has her nurse call Juliet for her. Lady Capulet seems a bit awkward around her daughter. She dismisses the nurse and then immediately calls her back: “This is the matter:—Nurse, give leave awhile, / We must talk in secret:—nurse, come back again; / I have remember'd me, thou's hear our counsel.” Juliet is much closer to her nurse, the woman who raised her, and is more formal around her mother.

Lord Capulet is a hotheaded older man who has perpetuated a feud with the Montagues. He also dearly loves Juliet. He initially tells the much older Paris that Juliet will decide whether she will marry him. Later, Juliet's relationship with her parents worsens when they try to force her to marry Paris. Pride and anger overtake Lord Capulet, who goes back on his determination that Juliet should have choice in her marriage. He rages against her, making all sorts of terrible threats. Even Lady Capulet, who attempts to assuage her husband’s fury, says “I would the fool were married to her grave!”

Juliet has secretly defied her parents by seeing Romeo behind their backs, with only the nurse’s and the friar’s knowledge. When told she should marry Paris within a few days, Juliet openly defies them. She is angry but also desperate, begging for them to listen and have pity: "Is there no pity sitting in the clouds, / That sees into the bottom of my grief?” Lord and Lady Capulet refuse to listen to their daughter. Because she feels she has nowhere to go, Juliet fakes her suicide. Juliet's parents, who were previously so hard on her, acutely lament her death. Lord Capulet says, “The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she, / She is the hopeful lady of my earth.” He and his wife pay dearly for their harshness.

Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the time of Shakespeare (and up into the twentieth century), upper-class children were placed in the care of nurses or nannies. Juliet’s true loyalty was to her Nurse, not her father and mother. Her relationship with her parents was one of duty, rather than deep affection. When she learns her parents have pledged her hand in marriage to Paris, Juliet completely rejects this idea. Her father threatens to disown her if she refuses, which causes her to take the drastic measure of faking suicide, knowing this is a complete disownment in turn of her parents. With the aid of Friar Lawrence and the Nurse, Juliet carries out her plan with tragic results. The only good thing that comes out of this is the ending of the quarrel between the Montagues and the Capulets.