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In Act 1, Scene 2, of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet we learn certain facts. For one thing, we learn that Juliet is only thirteen years old. To modern readers this seems very young for a girl to have two suitors, but Paris tells her father, "Younger than she are happy mothers made." We learn from Capulet's dialogue that Juliet is his only child, others having died in childhood. ("The earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she . . . ") He evidently treasures her. He thinks she is too young to consider marriage (which seems very sensible to modern readers). No doubt he also wants to keep her as his own for another year or two before giving her away. He counts on Juliet to carry on his blood line, if not his family name. He says, "She is the hopeful lady of my earth," meaning that she is his heir and his only hope for grandchildren and posterity. Juliet's mother does not seem as strongly disinclined to see her daughter married before the age of fourteen, especially since she considers Paris such a good catch and since she herself was married at about the age of thirteen.
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