Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is Juliet's role in Romeo and Juliet  by William Shakespeare?  

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Juliet's role in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is that of a heroine. She is the main love interest in the play, which is essentially the story of how Romeo and Juliet, children of families engaged in a multi-generational feud with each other, fell in love with one another and tried to marry against their families wishes. From the point of view of dramaturgy, she is often described as an "ingenue", a role played, usually sympathetically, young female actress. The main plot of the play as concerning the fate of Romeo and Juliet as "star-crossed" lovers is hinted at by Shakespeare in the Prologue:

From forth the loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows,
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.

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Juliet functions as the ingenue, the innocent young woman, in the plot and consequently serves as Romeo’s love interest in the play. However, the plot is further complicated by the fact that Romeo is a Montague, and Juliet is a Capulet. The Capulets and Montagues are two feuding families, and it is this discourse that makes their love forbidden and dangerous.

A further analysis of Juliet as a character reveals though that she is much more than simply the object of Romeo’s affection. Though at first glance Juliet appears to fulfill the traditional archetypal role of the innocent or even at times the damsel in distress, she is actually a complicated, passionate, smart young woman who is coming of age, discovering the intensities of love, and desperately trying to keep her happiness intact.

Throughout the arch of the play Juliet changes quite a bit. She starts as a dutiful daughter who tells her mother in Act I, Scene 3 “"I'll look to like, if looking liking move; / But no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your consent gives strength to make it fly." However, as her love with Romeo intensifies she becomes an emboldened woman who will stop at nothing to ensure that she and Romeo can be together forever. As she tells the Friar in Act 4, Scene 1 unless he can figure out how to help her she is willing to kill herself.