Why did the nurse agree to help Juliet marry Romeo in Romeo and Juliet?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Inspired by maternal feelings and a servant's deep loyalty, the nurse agrees to help Juliet marry Romeo.

When the nurse meets Romeo in act 2, scene 4, she tries to determine whether Romeo's love for Juliet is genuine or whether he is merely infatuated with the beautiful young lady. 

But first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behavior, as they say. For the gentlewoman is young, and therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing. (act 2 scene 4)

Here, the nurse's words demonstrate her protectiveness towards Juliet. The nurse's behavior indicates an abiding affection for Juliet. It is the nurse who acts as a messenger for the lovers. Her discretion and resourcefulness makes it possible for Friar Lawrence to marry Romeo and Juliet in secret.

In act 3, scene 5, the nurse warns Juliet that her mother is coming to her bedroom. At the warning, Juliet has to pull herself away from Romeo. Later, when Juliet's father announces that she is to marry Paris, it is the nurse who speaks up on Juliet's behalf. For her solicitude, the nurse is berated by Lord Capulet. Here, it can be seen that the nurse is ready to jeopardize her position in the Capulet household for Juliet's sake. 

Yet, the nurse is also a pragmatic woman. She realizes that Juliet's future and survival depends upon her honoring her parents' wishes. So, she advises Juliet to forget Romeo and to accept Paris as a husband. 

The nurse's advice seems to contradict her earlier support for Juliet. However, her ability to be both loyal and pragmatic is evident in the advice she gives her young charge. The nurse's chief priority in life is to protect Juliet. The nurse believes that, by marrying Paris, Juliet will ensure her survival in the deeply patriarchal society they live in. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juliet’s nurse agrees to help her secretly marry Romeo because she cares about Juliet and wants her to be happy, and she knows she loves Romeo.

Nurse tries to explain to Juliet that she is better off with Paris, because Paris is a gentleman.  Juliet refuses, though, and Nurse wants to do whatever Juliet wants.  She has raised Juliet from a baby, and since she has no children of her own she looks upon Juliet as her own.

Nurse explains to Romeo that she does not approve of him, but Juliet will not be disuaded.

I anger her sometimes, and tell her

that Paris is the properer man; but I'll warrant you, when(190)

I say so, she looks as pale as any clout in the versal

world. (Act 2, Scene 4)

Therefore Nurse agrees to help Juliet get to Romeo.  She passes on the message, after some teasing, and makes sure that Juliet has an excuse to visit Friar Lawrence, so she can marry her Romeo in secret.  She makes sure to bring Romeo to Juliet, and tells them when it is time to go in the morning.

Despite her bawdy ways, Nurse really does care about Juliet.  She tries to look out for her interests in a way that her own parents don't.  She wants Juliet to be happy and secure.  She finally decides that helping Juliet get what she wants is more important than helping Juliet do what is expected of her.