In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what are the inner conflicts Lord Capulet experiences?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Lord Capulet's sense of personal responsibility for the feud creates one inner conflict within Lord Capulet. In the opening scene, after the younger men begin the fight, Capulet is the first older man to join in the fray and Montague has not even arrived yet. But what is interesting is that Capulet's battle cry is, "My sword, I say! Old Montague is come / And flourishes his blade in spite of me," meaning, despite Capulet's best efforts to pacify Montague, Montague is threatening Capulet again with his sword. Therefore, even though Montague is not even actually on the scene yet, Capulet is still deflecting the blame for the feud from himself on to Montague. We learn in the second scene that Capulet does indeed feel guilty for his actions. His opening line to Paris is, "But Montague is bound as well as I, in penalty alike" (Act 1, Scene 2). Capulet was the one the Prince singled out at the fight because the Capulets began the fight. This line is Capulet's way of saving face by pointing out that Montague is being held as legally responsible as he is, proving that Capulet feels guilty for his actions. Another line Capulet gives that proves his guilt is, "'Tis not hard, I think, / For men so old as we to keep the peace," meaning that even he feels he should be able to cease fighting (Act 1, Scene 2). The fact that Capulet began the fight with Lord Montague, while blaming Montague for the fight shows that one inner conflict Lord Capulet is facing is his relentless desire to fight vs. his feelings of shame from fighting.

Another inner conflict Lord Capulet deals with is created by Capulet's inclination not to see Juliet married at the age of twelve and Paris's insistence. When we first meet Paris it is evident that Capulet is telling him for the second time to wait for Juliet for two more years, as evidenced by Capulet's opening line in response to Paris's query, "By saying o'er what I have said before" (Act 1, Scene 2). However, despite Capulet's initial inclination to postpone the marriage, as soon as Tybalt is killed, he consents to let Paris marry Juliet that week. We are not told the reason for Capulet's sudden change of heart directly from Capulet's own mouth, however, Lady Capulet tells Juliet that he hopes a happy day will put an end to Juliet's mourning. In other words, Capulet is so worried about Juliet's intense grief that he wants to distract her from it. This shows that Juliet's grief created an inner conflict within Capulet concerning his desire to postpone the marriage vs. his desire to help Juliet.

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