Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, was the nurse a conspirator in Juliet's plan?

Expert Answers info

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question per posting. Additional questions should be posted separately.]

In Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, the nurse is a co-conspirator in Juliet's plan to marry Romeo in secret, but is not a part of Juliet's plan to pretend to be dead so as to avoid marrying Paris.

Romeo and Juliet plan to marry in secret. Romeo may have been about sixteen, but Juliet is younger, as we learn from her father when Paris asks to court Juliet and marry her.


She hath not seen the change of fourteen years…  (I.ii.8-9)

Juliet sends the nurse to discover details of when she and Romeo will next meet. (The nurse also decides to tell Romeo to treat Juliet well.) Romeo tells the nurse to say Juliet is going to confession with Friar Lawrence, and then he and Juliet will marry. And the nurse confirms that she will deliver this important message to her mistress:


This afternoon, sir? Well, she shall be there. (172)

In the next scene, the nurse delivers Romeo's instructions at Juliet's bidding:


Sweet, sweet, sweet nurse, tell me, what says my love? (II.v.55)


Have you got leave to go to shrift to-day? 


I have.


Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence’ cell;

There stays a husband to make you a wife. (68-71)

However, Juliet's father decides to force her to marry to Paris. She cannot—not just because she does not love Paris, but also because she is already married to Romeo. Juliet decides with Friar Lawrence to stage her suicide, but she also chooses not to tell her nurse that she will not really be dead. Juliet does this because the nurse fails to be supportive of Romeo when he kills Juliet's cousin Tybalt. It may be that this decision leads to Juliet's death.

In Act Four, scene three, Juliet sends her nurse away and her mother away on the evening before she is supposed to marry Paris. While Juliet is alone, she drinks the potion she has received from Friar Lawrence. When the morning comes and the nurse tries to wake Juliet, she finds Juliet "dead," and mourns her passing with deep despair. The nurse is a co-conspirtor in Juliet's plan to marry, but the nurse is not a co-conspirtor of her contrived suicide plan.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial