Was Juliet the innocent victim of the play Romeo and Juliet? 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet is an innocent victim of her family’s feud and a patriarchal society. 

You could easily say that Juliet would not have died in this play if her family was not feuding with the Montagues.  There seems to be no basis for the feud.  It just has been going on for so long that everyone accepts it.  Even Juliet is upset when she learns Romeo is a Montague because she does not want to betray her family. 

JULIET

My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy. (Act 1, Scene 5) 

Juliet loves Romeo, and he seems to love her, so she goes along with marrying him in secret.  She decides that his name is insignificant to who he is as a person.  Romeo doesn’t care who is a Capulet.  He doesn’t want to fight Tybalt, but Tybalt kills Mercutio, and he has to. 

Juliet still might not have died when Romeo was banished if her father hadn’t insisted that she marry Paris.  In the patriarchal society of Verona, he has a right to choose her husband. He tells her he will disown her and throw her out if she doesn’t marry Paris, and calls her ungrateful. 

CAPULET

Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch!
I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face:
Speak not, reply not, do not answer me;
My fingers itch. (Act 3, Scene 5)

Juliet goes to Friar Lawrence for help.  He married Romeo and Juliet in secret, thinking it might help end the feud.  He tries to buy Juliet time by giving her a potion to fake her death and getting a message to Romeo.  Unfortunately, Romeo doesn’t get the message and comes back and finds Juliet. Thinking she is dead, he kills himself, and then she wakes up and kills herself because Romeo is dead.

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Romeo and Juliet

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