Romeo and Juliet The Nurse
by William Shakespeare

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The Nurse

Extended Character Analysis

Juliet’s nurse is a servant in the Capulet family who wet nursed Juliet as an infant and has raised her ever since. After the death of her infant daughter, Susan, the Nurse treats Juliet as her own daughter. She serves as Juliet’s main confidante and companion; Juliet trusts her nurse with her most intimate secrets. After the ball, Juliet recruits her nurse for help and asks her to meet Romeo and discover his intentions. Later, the Nurse brings Romeo to Juliet and helps the two consummate their marriage. She even warns the two lovers after their night together that Lady Capulet is approaching Juliet’s bedroom. She supports Juliet after the fiery Lord Capulet scolds Juliet for refusing to marry Paris. Although Lord Capulet verbally assaults the Nurse, she still defends and consoles Juliet.

In contrast to Juliet, who is contemplative, intense, and practical, the Nurse is talkative, bawdy, and vulgar. Her sexually suggestive humor provides comic relief throughout the tragedy. When she is first seen on stage, she talks at length and in detail about nursing the infant Juliet, and both Juliet and Lady Capulet tell her to stop. She often scrambles her words, such as when she reports the brawl in the Verona marketplace, which briefly leads Juliet to believe that Romeo is dead.

While Juliet and her Nurse are very close, their relationship becomes strained toward the end of the play. After Romeo’s banishment, the nurse tells Juliet to marry Paris—a message Juliet interprets as a sign of betrayal, even if the nurse meant it with goodwill. Juliet feels she can no longer confide in the nurse. Nevertheless, the nurse remains devoted to Juliet and helps in the preparation for Juliet and Paris’s wedding. On the morning of the wedding, the nurse is devastated to find Juliet’s “dead” body.