In act 4, how would you summarize the way circumstances have worked so far for Juliet?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tragically conflicted.  With Juliet already married to Romeo Scene I of Act IV finds Paris pressuring Friar Lawrence to set a date for Juliet and himself to be married.  Of course, Friar Lawrence is in a quandary since he knows Juliet is already married, but he cannot inform Paris of this.  More conflict of intentions occurs in Scene II as Lord Capulet insists that Juliet marry Paris, but she acts compliant:  "Henceforward I am ever ruled by you."  Then, she plays the middle ground of ambiguity,

I met the youthful lord at Laurence's cell;/And gave him what becomed love I might,/Not stepping o'er the bounds of modesty [I did not say I love him, but I did not say that I did not, either] (IV,ii,23-25)

In Scene III, Juliet drinks the potion, which, of course, causes a grave problem when the Capulets discover her and in Scene V, wedding plans conflict with funeral plans.  Juliet goes to church, not to be married, but to be buried.  Lord Capulet speaks in contrasts:

All things that we ordained festival/Turn from their office to black funeral;/Our instruments to melancholy bells,/Our wedding cheer to a sad burieal feast,/Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change,/Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse,/And all things change them to the contrary (IV,v,74)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I guess in terms of her coming closer to being with Romeo, things are working out, but I imagine she wished circumstances were much, much different. She's refused an arranged marriage and been disowned, suffered her cousin's death and her lover's banishment, and has now faked her own death to escape her family. I don't think that's the way most of us would want our lives to turn out. While she is able to finally show her independence and forgo the role of obedient daughter, we need to remember that she is only 13, and is giving up everything she's known for one young man, not much older than herself. It's a very dangerous situation in which she's put herself, and of course the consequences are the greatest of all.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team