What is Juliet's role in the play Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet is a strong woman who helps move the action of the play along and creates the choice that leads to tragedy but ends the feud.

In many ways, Romeo and Juliet is Romeo’s play.  We are introduced to him first, and he seems to get more screen time.  As the boy, he is the one that drives the plot.  He mourns the end of his relationship with Rosaline, he crashes the party, he sees Juliet, he sneaks into the orchard, he asks her to marry him, he kills Tybalt and gets banished, and he kills himself, causing her to kill herself.  He controls the action.  Or does he?

So what then is Juliet’s role? Is she just the recipient of Romeo’s actions?  Juliet is a Capulet, and she is strong-willed.  She could have consented to marry Paris, and it would have avoided a lot of problems.  Romeo would have been sad, but would he have killed himself?  It certainly would not have happened as a result of Juliet’s doom.

Juliet is a strong woman.  She stands her ground against Romeo’s proclamations of devotion, ensuring that his intentions are indeed honorable.


O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?


What satisfaction canst thou have to-night? (Act 2, Scene 2, p. 41)

Juliet also stands up to her father.  He is angry and horrified when she tells him that she does not want to marry Paris.  He threatens to throw her out of the house.  She stands up to him, and only consents as a last resort.  But she tricks him, because she never intends to marry Paris.  She goes to the friar for help.

It takes a great deal of personal strength to go to the friar and accept his potion.  Planning to take it is scary, but actually taking it is even more frightening for Juliet, yet she does it.

From here on, Juliet controls the action.  By taking that poison, she shifts the play off the path it could have headed and toward total destruction.  Romeo sees her and kills himself, and she awakens and kills herself too.  Everyone is shocked to see her bleed, because they thought she was already dead.

O heavens! O wife, look how our daughter bleeds!

This dagger hath mista'en, for, lo, his house

Is empty on the back of Montague,(215)

And it missheathed in my daughter's bosom! (Act 5, Scene 3, p. 113)

When Capulet sees the blood and realizes his daughter was not dead, but just killed herself, the reality of everything that happened comes crashing down on him.  And just like that, Juliet ends the feud.