How does Lord Capulet change at the beginning, middle, and end of Romeo and Juliet?

At the beginning of the play, Lord Capulet is depicted as an understanding, rational individual who is willing to allow Juliet to exercise independence and make her own choices. As the play progresses, he transforms into a domineering, rigid father, who insists that Juliet obey his instructions. By the end of the play, Lord Capulet is filled with remorse and guilt for his actions and is willing to make amends with the Montagues.

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Lord Capulet's temperament and attitude, particularly towards his daughter Juliet and the Montague family, drastically changes from the beginning to the end of the play. Toward the beginning, Lord Capulet is portrayed as a sympathetic, understanding father who is in favor of allowing Juliet to make her own decisions regarding marriage. In act 1, scene 2, Lord Capulet informs Paris that Juliet is too young to make such a significant decision and illustrates his tolerant, understanding personality by saying,

But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart.
My will to her consent is but a part.
And she agreed within her scope of choice, Lies my consent and fair according voice (1.2.16–19).

In addition to being a sympathetic father, Lord Capulet is also depicted as a rational person. When Tybalt attempts to fight Romeo for sneaking into the ball, Lord Capulet restrains him and insists that he keep his composure. Lord Capulet proceeds to chastise Tybalt for his aggressive reaction and is able to recognize Romeo's positive reputation.

Following Tybalt's death, Lord Capulet seems to experience a remarkable transformation and becomes an intolerant, domineering father. In act three, scene four, Lord Capulet promises Paris that he will make Juliet marry him on Thursday by saying,

Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender
Of my child's love. I think she will be ruled
In all respects by me. Nay, more, I doubt it not (3.4.12–14).

In addition to forcing his daughter to marry Paris, Lord Capulet reveals his dramatic character change by harshly criticizing Juliet for refusing to obey him. In a fit of rage, Lord Capulet calls Juliet a "disobedient wretch" and threatens to disown her if she does not marry Paris on Thursday.

Once Lord Capulet discovers Juliet's lifeless body, he is filled with guilt and remorse. At the end of the play, Lord Capulet recognizes the destructive outcome of the family feud and decides to make amends with the Montagues by allowing Juliet's body to lie next to Romeo's.

Overall, Lord Capulet transforms from an understanding individual into a domineering father before changing into a remorseful, guilt-ridden man who makes amends with the Montague family and accepts the consequences of his actions.

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Throughout the course of the play Lord Capulet goes from calm reasoning to spontaneous anger to contrition.

Lord Capulet is Juliet’s father.  In the beginning of the play, he is in a good mood.  He is throwing a big party to show his beautiful daughter off, though he tells Paris she is too young to marry at fourteen. 

PARIS    [...]    But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?CAPULET    But saying o'er what I have said before:    My child is yet a stranger in the world;    She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,Let two more summers wither in their pride,    Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

When he comes across the brawl, he is ready to jump in. Capulet’s willingness to join the fray, despite...

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his age and status, demonstrates his exuberance, spontaneity, and passion. 

My sword, I say! Old Montague is come

And flourishes his blade in spite of me. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 12)

The prince describes him as “old” and clearly asserts that Lord's Capulet and Montague are responsible for the original quarrel.

PRINCE    Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,    By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,    Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets,    [...]    To wield old partisans, in hands as old,

During the party, we see another side of Capulet.  After the Prince's reprimand that he control his household, he is actually quite reasonable about Romeo’s attendance at the party.  Tybalt wants to cause a scene, but Capulet holds him back.

Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone.

He bears him like a portly gentleman,

And, to say truth, Verona brags of him (70)

To be a virtuous and well-govern'd youth (Act 1, Scene 5)

This is one of the most ennobled things Capulet says in the play, demonstrating that he is not unloving, as he may appear to be in other parts, especially when his daughter tells him she does not want to marry Paris.

Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch!

I tell thee what—get thee to church a Thursday (165)

Or never after look me in the face.

Speak not, reply not, do not answer me! (Act 3, Scene 5)

Capulet’s anger at Juliet’s defiance stems both from his pride (he assured Paris that he "doubted not" Juliet would agree with him) and his frustration (he thinks he has made a good match for her).  In his mind, he is shocked and surprised.

It is not until he discovers his daughter’s death that he begins to feel contrite.  He feels bad because he forced her into marrying in secret and into killing herself.  He is grieving and guilt-ridden and decides to end the feud in her honor.

O brother Montague, give me thy hand.

This is my daughter's jointure, for no more

Can I demand. (Act 5, Scene 3)

In the end, Capulet forgives Montague and agrees to let Romeo be buried in the Capulet tomb with his daughter.  He has reformed, having lost his only daughter.  It took that to help him realize what he had.

Capulet does show a progression throughout the play.  By the end of the play, he has paid the greatest consequence for his folly with Montague and he realizes this too late.

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