What are the main plot developments in Act I Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act 1, Scene 2 opens with Capulet and Paris talking to each other.  Capulet begins the scene by talking about the Capulet and Montague feud.  He more or less says that he is too old to worry about this feud.  He believes that peace would simply be better and easier at this point.  

But Montague is bound as well as I,

In penalty alike; and 'tis not hard, I think,

For men so old as we to keep the peace.

Paris's response is great.  His first sentence basically says, "I think you're right," and his next sentence is essentially "So, can I marry your daughter?"  

Of honourable reckoning are you both;

And pity 'tis you lived at odds so long.

But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?

Apparently, Capulet's problems are a minor inconvenience when compared with Paris's love life.  He would rather focus on himself and a possible future wife.  Graciously, Capulet enters into this conversation quite calmly.  He doesn't say "no" to Paris marrying Juliet; however, Capulet also doesn't say "yes."  Capulet tells Paris that Juliet is still too young.  He should wait until Juliet is fifteen.  

My child is yet a stranger in the world;

She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,

Let two more summers wither in their pride,

Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

Capulet also says something very important.  He says that his consent to Paris isn’t the only requirement for this proposed marriage.  He tells Paris that Paris must win Juliet’s heart.  

But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart,

My will to her consent is but a part;

An she agree, within her scope of choice

Lies my consent and fair according voice.

That is important because it shows that Capulet cares about Juliet’s happiness.  He has every right to arrange a marriage for Juliet whether she likes it or not.  Capulet is basically admitting that he believes that love (or at least liking) is necessary for a happy marriage.  A bit later in the play, Capulet will pull a complete 180 and demand that Juliet marry Paris a few days later.  

Capulet then slightly changes the subject.  He tells Paris that he is throwing a big party at his house that night, and Capulet would like Paris to be there. Next, Capulet hands the invitation list to a nearby servant, he and Paris exit, and the servant is supposed to go tell everybody on the list about the party.  Unfortunately, the servant can’t read.  

Romeo and Benvolio enter the scene, and Romeo is still whining about lost love.  The servant asks if either of them can read.  Romeo takes the invite, asks what it is, and discovers that his dear Rosaline will be at the party.  Benvolio and Romeo decide to crash the party.  Romeo wants to go to see Rosaline, and Benvolio wants to go in order to show Romeo that there are plenty of way more attractive women to woo than Rosaline.

Go thither; and, with unattainted eye,

Compare her face with some that I shall show,

And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.

hilahmarca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume you mean Act I, Scene II.

First, Paris approaches Lord Capulet about his interest in marrying Juliet.  He likes Paris and would welcome Paris as a son-in-law, but he wants him to wait until Juliet is older and wants to see if Juliet likes him back.  He invites Paris to his party that evening to give her a chance to meet and attempt to woo Juliet.  This leads to the second plot point where Capulet orders his illiterate servant to deliver the invitations to the party.  Meanwhile, the third plot point, Benvolio encourages Romeo to forget about his love for Roseline and try to find another girl. These two conversations become connected when the servant interrupts Romeo and Benvolio and asks them for help reading the invitations, so he can deliver them.  They comply and the servant thanks them by inviting them to the party.  Benvolio encourages Romeo to go and Romeo agrees only because he knows Roseline will be there.