How does Juliet say that she refuses to marry Paris in Romeo and Juliet?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Juliet rejects Paris, she does so with spirit.  Her mother tells her that her father has brokered a happy occasion in the midst of their sadness (Romeo has slain Tybalt).  She tells Juliet that Paris will make her a blushing bride in just a few days, and Juliet -- without hesitation -- patently refuses the entire plan.  Juliet thinks it's pretty strange that she will be getting married to someone who hasn't even had the chance to court her yet.  Further, she says, quite cleverly, "I will not marry yet. And when I do, I swear / It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, / Rather than Paris" (3.5.121-123).  Juliet actually admits to her parents that she would rather marry Romeo than Paris!  She does say that it's because she hates Romeo, which tells her mother just how fervently she does not want to marry Paris.  When her father begins to lose his temper, she says that she is grateful for what he's done for her because it was done in love, even though she hates it.  She makes no bones about her feelings, freely admitting her complete and rebellious refusal of their choice for her.  Her parents essentially say that they will cast her out if she doesn't get herself to church on Thursday to do as they say. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Juliet's mother asks her if she will consider Paris as a suitor, Juliet responds by saying that she will look at Paris, and if she sees anything likable about him, she will make efforts to like him. However, Juliet adds that she will not give way to any feelings for him beyond what her mother's permission allows. This is a subtle refusal as she expresses no real emotional interest in Paris.

This response is, indeed, rather tepid. For, Juliet merely answers her mother's question as a dutiful daughter. Furthermore, she displays no excitement when Paris's name is mentioned, and no emotion as she responds by merely agreeing in obedience to her mother to look at Paris, and if he does not inspire any feelings in her, she will not continue to consider him any more than her filial duty requires.

Curiously, in this scene (Act I, Scene 3), Juliet, who is only thirteen, seems disinterested in the male gender. But, only hours later, she is star-struck by Romeo, who also falls instantly in love with her in Act I, Scene 5. This change in her emotions suggest that Juliet has been affected by fate and she and Romeo may, indeed, be the "star-crossed lovers" described in the Prologue.

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Romeo and Juliet

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