What are the themes for Act III Scenes 4 and 5 of Romeo and Juliet?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act III, Scenes 4 and 5 of Romeo and Juliet, the major themes of the play are clearly present:

Patriarchal Values vs. Youth

In both Scenes 4 and 5, Lord Capulet's patriarchal authority dominates Juliet.  In Scene 4, without consulting Juliet, Lord Capulet makes arrangements with Paris for his and Juliet's marriage.  In Scene 5 when Juliet beseeches her father to listen to her, he is completely insensitive.  Enraged at her questioning his authority he berates her,

How, how, how, how, choplogic? What is this?
‘Proud’—and ‘I thank you’—and ‘I thank you not’—
And yet ‘not proud’? Mistress minion you,
Thank me no thankings, nor proud me no prouds,
But fettleyour fine joints 'gainst Thursday next
To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,
Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage!
You tallow-face! (3.5.153-161)

Further, he repudiates his daughter, saying to his wife,

Wife, we scarce thought us blest
That God had lent us but this only child;
But now I see this one is one too much,(170)
And that we have a curse in having her.
Out on her, hilding! (3.5.168-172)

Lady Capulet, too, cruelly displays no understanding of her daughter's feelings,--"I have done with thee"-- ironically expressing a wish that Juliet were dead and foreshadowing her daughter's fate:

“I would the fool were married to her grave!” (3.5.140)


The fact that Romeo's name has caused him most of his troubles continues to affect the action. In Scene 3 he becomes irrational:

In what vile part of this anatomy
Doth my name lodge? tell me, that I may sack
The hateful mansion (3.3.111-113)

Romeo and Juliet's love is so all-consuming of their persons that they cannot imagine life without each other and death becomes the solution if they cannot be together.  In keeping with the thinking of Romeo, Juliet says to the Nurse,

O God!—O nurse, how shall this be prevented?
My husband is on earth, my faith in heaven.
How shall that faith return again to earth
Unless that husband send it me from heaven
By leaving earth? (3.4.3213-217)

Even the Nurse, in her attempt to convince Juliet to marry Romeo, tells her that "Your first [husband]is dead." (3.5.229)

As Lady Capulet approaches Juliet to inform her of Paris's proposal, she tells her daughter that she is going to send poison to Romeo. Later, as mentioned above, she curses her daughter in her wish that she were dead because she causes her parents so much grief.

Impulsiveness of Youth

Romeo and Juliet's reactions to situations continue to be as impetuous as they have been since the first act. Just as previously in Scene 3, Romeo becomes irrational, drawing his sword to cut out the part of him where his "name doth lodge," so, too, does Juliet exhibit this impulsiveness in Scene 5, as she cries out against her parents and decides to go to Friar Laurence for help,; however, she vows that if he cannot counsel her, she will commit suicide. 

I'll to the friar to know his remedy.
If all else fail, myself have power to die. (3.5.252-253)