In Romeo and Juliet how is Juliet impulsive?

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Jonathan Beutlich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think it is fairly safe to say that many of the actions done by several characters in this play are impulsive. Juliet is equally guilty of doing and saying things that are quite impulsive. The first thing that comes to my mind is how quickly she goes from meeting Romeo to kissing Romeo. Romeo and Juliet say a combined 14 lines of dialogue to each other before their first kiss. I count that as impulsive behavior. She doesn't even know his name at this point. I also believe her marriage to Romeo is a good example of impulsive behavior. She kisses him after 14 lines of dialogue, and she marries him less than 24 hours after having met him. Capulet's party was Sunday night, and they are married on Monday afternoon.

If you are needing a specific line of dialogue that shows Juliet as acting or thinking impulsively, then I like one of Juliet's statements from Act 1, Scene 5. The line comes after Romeo and Juliet kiss, and Juliet asks the nurse to find out who he is. While the nurse is gone, Juliet says the following lines.

If he be married,
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.

She's essentially stating that if Romeo is married, then she'll never marry. It's Romeo for her or a long and lonely life. That's a fairly impulsive and overblown teenage statement. Another good quote comes in Act 2, Scene 2.

be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

The quote shows that she is ready and willing to abandon her family for Romeo despite the fact that she knows next to nothing about him.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Juliet is a headstrong young lady, incredibly feisty and full of spirit. Though she initially defers to her parents' wishes regarding her arranged marriage to Paris, she subsequently rebels, marrying Romeo in secret. Juliet's so impulsive that she cannot control her emotions; this is a characteristic she shares with Romeo. She falls madly in love with him the very first time she sets eyes on him, and from that moment on, nothing can change her mind; she wants to spend the rest of her life with Romeo and no one can convince her otherwise.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that Juliet is a product of her age and environment. She's still a young adult, emotionally immature and naive in the ways of the world. Yet that world itself, the world of Renaissance Verona, is one in which impulse plays a major part in people's lives. After all, this is a city where impulsive acts of violence take place in the streets on an almost daily basis. Emotional restraint isn't something one normally associates with the Veronese in Romeo and Juliet.

As with violence, so with love. Yet Juliet is ultimately undone by the prevailing double standard. While it's considered acceptable for young men to let off steam by engaging in acts of swordplay—within certain boundaries—it's considered highly improper for young women to follow their hearts, especially if it means defying the express wishes of their parents.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Well, clearly the speed with which Juliet "falls" for Romeo is indicative of a certain level of impulsiveness. Juliet is a young woman who knows her role and station and what is expected of her. She would have known that she would not have been able to choose who she could love and who she could marry. Daughters of upper class families in those times were expected to make alliances, not to marry for love. And yet, when she first sees Romeo in Act I scene v, she is impulsive in the speed in which she falls in love. Note what she says to her Nurse when inquiring about the identity of her mystery lover:

Go ask his name.--If he be married,

My grave is like to be my wedding bed.

Already, after this one meeting, Juliet is thinking in absolute terms. She is lot letting reason restrain her emotion and passion. In the same way, when she finds out the identity of Romeo, she says:

My only love, sprung from my only hate!

Note the absolute terms that Juliet uses here. Already, for a young girl who has probably never loved before, she refers to Romeo as her "only love" and seems to pledge herself only to him, without knowing hardly anything about his character apart from the fact that he kisses "by the book." She shows herself as incredibly impulsive and governed by emotions rather than by reason.

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