In Romeo and Juliet, what does Lord Capulet's decree show about his attitude to Juliet?

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shakespeareguru eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act III, scene v, Lord Capulet plans to cheer Juliet up, whom he imagines is grieving over the loss of her cousin Tybalt, by announcing her engagement to Paris.  He treats her as if she were a small child who has fallen and skinned her knee and can be appeased with a piece of candy.

Though he enters the scene trying to lighten Juliet's mood, his own mood darkens considerably when she doesn't respond with claps and kisses to his offer of marriage to Paris.  Juliet says:

Proud can I never be of what I hate,

But thankful even for hate that is meant love.

These lines basically mean "thanks, but no thanks" -- to which Capulet explodes.  There is no clear direction of the action here, but Lady Capulet does say, "What, are you mad?" and Capulet says, "My fingers itch," both indicating the possibility of violence inflicted on Juliet by Capulet.

Whether there is actual physical violence in the scene or not, Capulet does give Juliet an ultimatum:  Either marry Paris, or leave his home.  The second choice is one that Capulet understands the consequences of very well.  He says, just before he exits the scene, "Beg!  Starve!  Die in the streets!"  One, if not all, would probably be the outcome if Juliet were thrown out of her home with no place to go.

However, all that said, it is hard to say exactly what this says about his attitude towards Juliet.  Shakespeare was a very aware playwright.  He shows Capulet to be very volatile, but also very caring.  Capulet does not like to be crossed (as the exchange with Tybalt at his party in Act I shows), but he can switch emotional gears very quickly.  When Juliet is found "dead" in Act IV, Capulet is quite movingly grief-stricken.

The one thing for sure, I would say, that Capulet's decree shows, is a proud nature that dislikes being crossed by anyone, especially his family.  He is a very astute rendering by Shakespeare of a father who loves his child dearly, but is also capable of a very boorish paternal authority.  We can still, today, recognize this sort of father in our modern society.

For more information on the two sides of Capulet's nature, please follow the character analysis link below.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lord Capulet is, of course, Juliet's father.

His attitude toward her is somewhat contradictory.  At times it seems like he really cares about her feelings, but at others it seems like he only cares about himself.


When Paris asks for Juliet's hand in marriage, her father implies that she will have to agree or else there would be no marriage.  This seems to show he cares for what she thinks.

On the other hand, Lord Capulet later threatens to disown Juliet and let her die in the streets if she doesn't go through with the marriage he has arranged for her.

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Romeo and Juliet

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