Why is Lord Capulet a bad father, especially when compared to Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird"? compared to atticus in to kill a mockingbird, how is lord capulet a worse father?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lord Capulet probably really does love his daughter; however, his erratic behavior makes it hard to believe he's really a good father.

The first time Paris approaches Juliet's dad with an offer of marriage, Capulet answers wisely and says two things: 1) she's young, so let's wait a few years; and 2) I won't marry her to anyone who hasn't won her heart, so woo her.  This shows a wise, judicious, and loving father who's more concerned about his daughter's welfare than anything else. It's a reasoned response.

The next time the subject comes up is right after Tybalt's death.  Juliet is crying and weeping and mourning--for the loss of Romeo, though Capulet believes it's for the loss of Tybalt.  He makes the unreasonable decision--literally one day after the first one--that marrying Juliet to Paris in three days will be good for her.  Will get her mind off her woes.  It's not a reasoned response.

When Juliet refuses, he gets angry and threatening and unreasonable--even abusive.  He threatens to disown her if she dares to disobey him. It's not a reasoned response.

 The next day, when Juliet comes back from the Friar's with the appearance of contrition, he is elated--and moves the wedding up a day out of fear that Juliet will change her mind.  It's not a reasoned response.

He clearly loves her, but Capulet is not what I would call a good father.

shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It was the custom for a father to chose his daughter's husband and in the play, Lord Capulet wants only the very best for Juliet.  At first, he is willing to give Juliet time to adjust to the idea of marriage and the chosen Paris.  In this respect, he is a good father for that day and age.

However, when he decides to push forward with the wedding and refuses to listen to his daughter, he becomes a bad father.  He even threatens to throw his daughter out of the house if he is not obeyed.  He is very much like Hermia's father in A Misummer Night's Dream in that respect.  Obey me or die.

One also gets the impression that the affection shown in the play is superficial.  The nurse is Juliet's confidant not either of her parents.  Juliet seemed more like an object to Lord Capulet.  Even when Juliet's body is discovered, his grief seems to be more about him than her.

By modern standards, Lord Capulet seems like a bad father but in his society he was doing what was expected.  Fathers were to be obeyed without question.

Did he love his daughter?  Yes, but he did not know how to express this love.

On the other hand, Atticus Finch knew how to express his love for his children.  He listened to them.  He spent time with his children and gently guided them.  He was a wise and loving man and taught his children how to be good human beings.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

So often people are judged by contemporary standards, and judging both Atticus Finch and Lord Capulet by them is a mistake.  For instance, there were many in the late fifties who read To Kill a Mockingbird who were appalled that the children called their father by his first name--especially in the South where children still use "sir" and "ma'am" in addressing their parents.  Atticus Finch would also have been considered far too liberal and lenient by most fathers from South Alabama.  Nevertheless, people would agree that Atticus is a loving father.  And,

Lord Capulet, too, exhibits his love in the beginning of the play in which he asks Paris to wait for Juliet to be a little older before she marries, and at the end of the play after she dies.  That he is excessively angry with her in Act IV is somewhat understandable given the death of Tybalt and the angry encounters that the family has had with the Montague camp.  Lord Capulet does seem rather unreasonable; however, aristocratic fathers were used to being obeyed without question, and they were not especially affectionate  and close with their children. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, Lord Capulet is not as good of a father as Atticus Finch because he is less understanding of his children.  He does not try to walk in their shoes the way Atticus does.

I think that we see this most clearly when Lord Capulet is trying to force Juliet to marry Paris.  When Juliet asks him to reconsider, he gets terribly angry at her.  This is not really because she is misbehaving (in my opinion) but because she is trying to be independent of him.  He says says horrible things to her and really abuses her verbally and emotionally.

By contrast, Atticus acts much differently when his children do things he does not like.  He seems to understand why they do those things and he tries to correct them in a constructive way.  I think we can see this most clearly in how he has Jem go spend time with Mrs. Dubose.

So Lord Capulet is more of an angry and vindictive father while Atticus tries to be more of a teacher.  I think this is a much better way to be a parent than that of Capulet.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Agreeing with the previous post, I would also add that Lord Capulet simply isn't interested in what his children want.  Obviously we really only know about the story with he and Juliet, but in his interactions with her, it is all about what he wants her to do and how her marriage with the boy he chooses will help him and the family.

Atticus on the other hand considers his children's feelings and desires to be important, even if they are contrary to what he thinks is right or the best thing.  He takes the time to hear them out and to consider their thoughts before deciding on a course of action.

Atticus also allows a great deal of freedom for his children to figure out life for themselves whereas Lord Capulet appears to be rather controlling on top of his lack of interest in his children, not a good combination in my book.