How does Shakespeare create sympathy for Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet"?

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Shakespeare creates sympathy for Juliet by showing us her vulnerability. First, she blunders horribly in the initial moments with Romeo when she reveals everything in her heart to Romeo before she has even had time to properly play the courting game. We sympathize because she reminds us of the awkward growing up moments we've all experienced, and because she is so honest about what she's done. (She even says she'll back up and play the game right if he thinks she's too easily won). Second, she still blushes like mad. Once again, this shows her innocence. The more she tries to mask her blushes, the more innocent she appears to us. Finally, we feel sympathetic toward her because her situation is so impossible. Every time the plot intensifies and something new happens, we share a sense of her dismay and sorrow. She is only just in the process of growing up (even though we know she is miles away from maturity)and everything that can go wrong does. Of course we feel for her.

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Poor Juliet! She is so misguided, so young, and so vulnerable that the older one gets, the more empathy audiences and readers have for her plight.

First, consider Juliet's age. Most scholars peg her at the tender age of thirteen or fourteen. The reason for this timeline is that her father is eager to marry her off as quickly as possible and the early teens were the acceptable age to do so. Like all adolscents, Juliet suffers from the blush of hormones and what might today be called "puppy love." She does not have the ability mentally, even if she barely does physically, to make an intelligent choice.

Her mother loves her, but is aloof. It is really her nurse who has raised the girl, from her infancy to her untimely death. Though she too loves her charge, the nurse is of lower class and uneducated. Futhermore, Juliet has the nurse pretty well wrapped around her little finger. Not so good from a guidance perspective.

Friar Lawrence, who should have known better, fails Juliet too. He should have talked the young girl out of such a ridiculous scheme, or at least informed someone who could stop the tragedy from occuring.

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How does Shakespeare make an audience sympathize and empathize for Juliet?

Of the two lovers in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is not the initiator of the meeting, nor is it she who proposes marriage.  In fact, she probably would not pursue the relationship with Romeo after he introduces himself and begs to touch her hands.  For, when she is told who Romeo is, Juliet says, "Too early seen unknown, and known too late!" (1.5.148).

Always she extorts Romeo to be cautious:  She backs away at the party from kissing him:  "Saints do not move, though grant for prayer's sake" (1.5.110), and she is anxious about their relationship:

If they do see thee, they will murder thee.....

I would not for the world they saw thee here (2.2.74,78)

So frequently, Juliet cautions Romeo against his impetuous pursuit of her, telling him to go more slowly and not to swear his love by the moon or anything else:

...I have no joy of this contract tonight. 

It is too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden;

Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be

Ere one can say 'It lightens'....(2.2.122-125)

More than anyone else, Juliet seems the victim of fate.  Happy with her new marriage, she soon learns that her beloved cousin has been slain by her tragic husband who has then been banished.  Adding to her woes, Juliet soon encounters her mother who insists that she marry Paris. Even her Nurse encourages this marriage--knowing such a union would be bigomy--and Juliet feels isolated in her consternation. Placed into a terrible quandary, Juliet seeks the advice of Friar Laurence who has her drink a potion that will have the apparent effects of death in hopes of causing the parents to regret their decision.  Hopefully, then, when she revives, they will be reconciled to her marriage to Romeo.  But, before the young and delicate Juliet consumes this vial, she suffers tortuous fears that she will die, or if she does not, she will lose her mind when she awakens in the catacomb with skeletons, or she may not be able to breath in the tomb and die even if she does awaken.

Certainly, young Juliet endures many tribulations in the course of the three day romance with her Romeo.  Her unfortunate awakening too late and finding her beloved dead is too cruel for such a young innocent.  She is, indeed, one to whom great sympathy comes.

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How does Shakespeare make an audience sympathize and empathize for Juliet?

For me, personally, I feel sympathy for Juliet because she is the one who really gets the most pressure put on her during this play.  She is the one who has to struggle more than anyone with conflicting pressures.  I think that Shakespeare makes us feel for her through the situations he puts her in.

First of all, Juliet (unlike Romeo) is put in a bind between her parents and her love.  Sure, we know the Montagues hate the Capulets, but we never see Romeo's parents telling him he has to marry someone.  Juliet, by contrast, has to sit there and have her parents demanding that she should marry Paris even though she is completely in love with Romeo.

Second, we really see how badly Juliet's parents treat her.  We see her being horribly berated by her father and mother for not wanting to marry Paris.  When I, at least, read or hear those lines, my heart goes out to her for what her parents are doing to her.

So I think that Shakespeare makes us feel for her by putting her in a much more pressurized situation than anyone else in the play and by having her parents treat her as they do.

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