In what ways does the nurse tease, tantalize and frustrate Juliet?  

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Nurse is set up as a foil for Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. A foil is a character who provides a contrast to another character. The Nurse is older than Juliet and not as quick to reveal information as Juliet would like. She teases, tantalizes and frustrates Juliet in three different scenes. 

In Act I, Scene 3, she teases Juliet about the girl's childhood. She recounts a bawdy story that her husband told involving Juliet falling on her face when she was a toddler and hoping to fall on her back when she was older. The Nurse says,

And then my husband (God be with his soul,
He was a merry man) took up the child.
“Yea,” quoth he, “Dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit,
Wilt thou not, Jule?” And, by my holidam,
The pretty wretch left crying and said “Ay.”
She also takes her time in revealing Juliet's age, which, for some reason, Lady Capulet doesn't even know. The audience discovers how close the two are in this scene.
 
In Act II, Scene 5, Juliet is waiting for the Nurse to return with news from Romeo about the arrangements for the marriage. Juliet laments the lateness of the Nurse with the message and wishes the Nurse were younger and faster. She says,
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve
Is thre long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks, many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
When the Nurse does arrive she tantalizes Juliet by temporarily withholding Romeo's plan. She talks about everything except what Juliet wants to hear. She comments on how she is tired, and asks about dinner and the whereabouts of Lady Capulet. Finally, Juliet, almost ready to explode, tries a softer tactic and says,
I’ faith, I am sorry that thou art not well.
Sweet, sweet, sweet nurse, tell me, what says my
love?
The Nurse frustrates Juliet in Act III, Scene 2, after the fight in the streets has left Mercutio and Tybalt dead. The Nurse is crying and carrying on and Juliet can't tell if Romeo has been killed or not. Juliet says,
What devil art thou that dost torment me thus?
This torture should be roared in dismal hell.
Hath Romeo slain himself? Say thou but “Ay,”
And that bare vowel “I” shall poison more
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice.
Eventually she learns the news that Tybalt has been killed and Romeo banished, but it takes several lines for the Nurse to reveal the truth.