In Act I of Romeo and Juliet, why does Lord Capulet throw a party/feast?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Romeo and Juliet, Old Capulet throws a masquerade party because it is tradition (it's "an old accustom'd feast") and, well, because he can.  He is perhaps the richest man in Verona and he wants to not only show off his wealth but to socialize with his friends, family, and fellow citizens.  He says:

This night I hold an old accustom'd feast,
Whereto I have invited many a guest,
Such as I love; and you, among the store,
One more, most welcome, makes my number more.

His servant unwittingly invites some of the Montague boys: master is the
great rich Capulet; and if you be not of the house
of Montagues, I pray, come and crush a cup of wine.
Rest you merry!

Benvolio responds:

At this same ancient feast of Capulet's
Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so lovest,
With all the admired beauties of Verona:

Lady Montague also wants Juliet to meet Paris so that they may wed.  Although Juliet's father thinks she is too young to marry, her mother uses the feast for match-making:

This night you shall behold him at our feast;
Read o'er the volume of young Paris' face,
And find delight writ there with beauty's pen;

Shakespeare uses the masque as a metaphorical and symbolic place for his two lovers to meet.  Masques are formal games in which the guests try to figure out who's who.  In this way, it's a great place to meet a lover, maybe even a husband, but also your great enemy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The play itself doesn't have Lord Capulet giving any reason except that he tells Paris "tonight I hold an old accustomed feast." It seems like a party just for party's sake.

The event does serve several purposes though. Capulet further explains to Paris who is wanting to marry Juliet that this would give Paris an opportunity to woo her or flirt with her as well as compare her to Verona's other beauties making sure that he indeed likes Juliet above others.

During the party, it also serves the purpose of letting Romeo and Juliet meet and building Tybalt's rage over Romeo's presence. These are very specific inciting incidents that much action later on in the story hinges on.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial