Romeo and Juliet - Characters and Relationships



  • The relationship between Roemo and his mother doesn't seem to be strong as she asks Benvolio of where her son is : "O where is Romeo?"
  • His prents do not have a close relationship with Romeo as they struggle to find the root of his unhappy state : "i neither know it {the reason for his sadness}"
  • The only other time that the Montagues appear is at the end when they learn of their sons death and we learn that the banishment of Romeo has severely upset his mom such that her "son's exile hath stopped her breath" maybe they really did love Romeo but never showed it in such a reclusive society
  • CONTEXT: In a patriarchal society, it was a norm for parents and their child to have a distant relationship or no relationship at all, especially for wealthier families who could afforc childcare provisions such as the Nurse. One reason for the lack of emotional bond between parent and child is because children were seen as a property of parents, whose only aim was to marry them off in an arranged marriage which would advantage their status and wealth. However, in a patriarchal society, womens role were also emphasised, such as being nothing but a mother, wife and possession; despite the lack of parental bonds, shakespeare ensures to highlight the motherly role of all women through the heartbroken death of Lady Capulet.
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  • In Act 2 Scene 3, it is clear that Friar Lawerence is more of a father to Romeo; this is shown by how Romoe  greets "Good Morrow, father" to which the Frar returns "That's my good son!"
  • their relaxed and care free relationships is shown by how Romeo "[ENTERS]" without knocking and the Friar jokingly calls out "Benedicte!" in suprised joy.
  • their love for one another is shown through their AABB rhyming from line 34-94 such as "lo/foe and drift/shift". their ability to speak in such ease shows that Friar Lawerence is Romeo's confidante and trusts him as they have known each other for a long time now
  • the idea that Friar Lawerence is Romeo's confidante is reassured by the line "how much salt water thrown away in waste" meaning that the Friar has seen Romeo cry over "Rosaline" who is mentioned six times in the scene; which also proves that Romeo tells all his hertly secrets to the Friar when seeking guidance, just like between a  father and son
  • However, in Act 5 Scene 3; the Friar betrays Romeo when he hastily suggest he will "dispose" of Juliet because everyone is coming to the tomb and he doesnt want to get in trouble; especially as Romeo "lies dead" he "dare no longer stay" 
  • CONTEXT; in a society that emphasises gender and masculinity, the Friar having seen Romeo cry is critical as it tells that Romeo is at his most vunerable in fornt of the trustworthy Friar. Shakespeare also represents Friar Lawerence as so trustworthy in this scene because it is in stark contrast with his meddling of potions; it could be said that Shakespeare is criticising Chrisitianity and the influence of the Church in the Elizabethan era as it is known that Shakespeares Globe theatre introduced new culture such as scientific explanations.
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  • In Act 1 Scene 2, Lord Capulet is represented as having a loving and typical relationship with his daughter - which would seem ambiguous to modern day audineces since daughters are no longer seen as a property. He protectively speaks of Juliet as "My child is yet a stranger to the world" when Paris asks to marry her and hates to think of her being a mother as he retorts "and too soon marred are those early made". however, he shows his patriarchal dominance and posseviness over juliet when he uses fruit imagery in the line "let two more summers wither in her pride / ere we may think her ripe to be a bride"
  • In Act 3 Scene 5, shortly after the death of her cousing Tybalt, her father forces juliet into a marriage, as he needs her husband to be an heir. he basically disowns Juliet when he gives her the options of "get thee to church o' thursday, or never look me in the face" and he basically curses at her when he shouts "and that we have a curse in having her" , this is all in stark contract to Act 1 Scene 2, especially when he says his daughter might aswell "hang, beg, starve, die in the streets"
  • Once again, his attitude changes in Act 4 scene 5, when he finds Juiliet supposedly dead; "death lies on he rlike an untimely frost Upon the sweetest flower of all the field"
  • CONTEXT; The Elizabethan Era (aswell as Renaissance Italy) was a patriarchal society; this would mean that Lord Capulet's control over his daughter and her fate would be familiar to the audience, this is an effect that Shakespeare is purposefuly trying to achieve as the majority of his audience were not as educated in fine literature and culture as he had the privelige of being. Because Juliet is a property of her parents, it is lord capulets job to get her married off. Marriage in the Renaissance and Elizabethan Era was never about love;  for high status families, the arranged marriage was a status contract. the idea of a patriarchal society is emphasised through how Romeo never has to experience such dominance throughout the play, because he is a man.
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  • Their distant relationship is established in Act 1 Scene 3 through the formal tone and Lady Capulet's lack of knoweledge on her daughter; "Where's my daughter"  and Juliet calling her "Madam" and also how it is only the Nurse who reminisces on Juliet as a young child such as when Juliet once fell and her husband made a sexual inuendo about falling "backwards when thou comest to age"
  • In Act 3 Scene 5, Lady Capulet practically disowns Juliet after she refuses to marry Paris  "I would the fool were married to her grave" implying she'd rather have her daughter dead, which is forshadowing and fateful. She also refuses to acknoweledge Juliet as a daughter anymore as she ends the scene with "Talk not to me, for i'll not speak a word; do as thou wilt, for i have done with thee"
  • However, her attitude changes in Act 4 Scene 5 once she finds her daughter supposedly dead on her bed the morning of the wedding;"My child, my only life!"
  • CONTEXT: In a patriarchal society, it was a norm for parents and their child to have a distant relationship or no relationship at all, especially for wealthier families who could afforc childcare provisions such as the Nurse. One reason for the lack of emotional bond between parent and child is because children were seen as a property of parents, whose only aim was to marry them off in an arranged marriage which would advantage their status and wealth. 
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  • We learn that the Nurse is more motherly towards Juliet in Act 1 Scene 3 through her relaxed tone in comparison to the formal conversation between Juliet and Lady Capulet such as when she says "Go girl, seek happy nights to happy days"
  • In Act 1 Scene 5, Juliet trusts the Nurse enough, to ask her to seek the name of Romeo and expresses to her trustworthy Nurse that her "only love sprung from my [her] only hate"
  • Similar to the Friar and Romeo, in Act 2 Scene 4 we learn that the Nurse is Juliet's confidante as the Nurse seeks visits Romeo to pass on the wedding details to Juliet including bringing "three cords made like a tackled stair" (a ladder). The Nurse is also protective over Juliet as she warns Romeo that he beeter not be leading her into "fools paradise" as it is a "very gross kind of behaviour"
  • In Act 3 Scene 2, the audience gets a perspective of how much the Nurse truly cares for Juliet to be happy, as when she tell Juliet that Tybalt is dead and Romeo is to be banished she promises to "find Romeo to comfort you [juliet]"
  • However, the tables turn when in Act 3 Scene 5, Capulet forces juliet to marry Paris and rather than uniting Romeo and Juliet the Nurse says "I think it best you married with the county" and seems to swoon over his beauty; "Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye as Paris hath"
  • CONTEXT - In a patrarchal society, the young an unmarried daughter of Capulet would be confined to his home as a posession, this couls be a reason she has no real understanding of love, and thus her 'love' for Romeo is childish and naive. The patriarchal society would also mean that her parents saw no need to build an emotional bond as they were able to afford childcare provisions - the nurse .
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  • Benvolio - as his name suggests - is a 'peacemaker' and despite being underappreciated, he always helps Romeo
  • He tries to talk Romoe out of his obsession with Rosaline as is shown in Act 1 Scene 1 "By giving liberty unot thine eyes: examine other beauties"
  • He tries to stop that duel that results in Romeo's banishement; "either withdraw unto some private place, or reason coldly of your grieveances or else depart"
  • He persuades the prince to give a lenient jugding on Romeo after he killed Tybalt by also telling the prince that Romeo killed only because Tybalt stabbed his "piercing steel at bold Mercutio's chest"
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  • They have a joky relationship such as in Act 2 Scene 4 “Alas, poor Romeo! / He is already dead: stabbed with a white wench’s black eye, / Shot through the ear with a love song.”
  • Mercutio is still reliable enough to give Romeo advice in Act 1 Scene 4 “you are a lover: borrow Cupid's wings, and soar with them above a common ground”
  • Despite being neutral in the feud, in Act 3 Scene 1 he steps up to fight Tybalt to defend Romeo's honour "Good king of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives" which also reflects his witty personaity.
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  • The only relationship between Romeo and Tyblat is in Act 5 Scene 3, when they both go to visit Juliet in the tomb.
  • Paris recognises Romeo - who is unaware of Paris presence at the moment - and speaks in a soliloquouy "this is that banished haughty Montague that murdered my love's cousin"
  • Paris blames Romeo for Juliets death as he say the grief of Tyblats death caused Juliet the "fair creature" to die
  • When Paris suspects Romoe of doing some "villanous shame" to Juliet's dead body he "[Steps forward]" and shouts "vile Montague" "Condemned villain" to which the matured Romoe retorts "Good gentle youth" "I love thee better than myslef"
  • But Paris, does not take his gentleness and states that he "apprehends thee [Romeo] for a felon here"
  • this provokes Romeo "[They fight]" and Paris "[He dies]"
  • After all this, Romeo fulfills Paris's wish to "lay me [him] with Juliet" as he beleives they were both written down in a "sour misfortune's book" and "[He Lays Paris withing the tomb]"
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  • Tybalt repeatedly refers ot Romeo as a villain, especially in Act 1 Scene 5 when he cathces Romeo at the Capulet feast eh complains to his uncle (Montague) "Our foe: A villain that is hither come in spite" "'Tis he that villain Romeo" and when Capulet tells him to leave Romoe alone Tybalt claims Romeo makes his "flesh tremble" and "[Exits]" just as Romoe starts wooing his cousing 
  • In Act 2 Scene 4 we learn that Tybalt "hath sent a letter" to Capulet's house asking to duel Romeo, which all comes tru in Act 3 Scene 1 when Tybalt prompts Romeo by saying "thou art a villain" and "turn and draw" and finally, when Mercutio is killed Tybalt screams "thou wretched boy" at Romeo which triggers Romeo; "[They Fight, He (Tybalt) Dies]"
  • CONTEXT: family honour was everything in the Renaissance era, a simple insult or wrong beleif would be vengenced by by revenge, violence and death to defend ones family pride and reputation. This is a key element in tragedy as it is often two noble families defending their honour whihc leads the the unfortunate death of high status characters.
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  • Romeo is lovesick for Rosaline in Act 1 Scene 1 as we learn form his parents he has been depressed as he "locks fair daylight out" and Benvolio says of how he has been sitting "underneath the grove of a sycamore". His depressing mood due to his unrequited love is best shown through his oxymoronic prose "O brawling love, O loving hate" and his metaphoric imagery which connot death "Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs"
  • However, he quickly falls for Juliet in Act 1 Scene 5 which suggests that he is headstrong and naive; he expresses hsi courtly love for Juliet through typical religious imagery as he refers to Juliet as a "holy shrine" and cheekily states "My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready standv to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss". Some may argue that Romeo is not really in love and is just trapped in youthful lust.
  • When Juliet return the religious imagery, it may suggest that she is in love too or she is naive as she quickly accepts his flirting; "palm to palm is holy plamers' kiss"
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  • In Act 2 Scene 2, both lovers speak heartly about one another in a sililpquoy; Romeo states that "it is the east and Juliet is the sun" and Juliet says "Wherefore art thou Romeo?... I'll no longer be a Capulet" Also in Act 2 Scene 6, when they get married Juliet enters "[Somewhat fastly]" and at the ened of this shortest scnee they "incorporate two into one". Despite her fear that she  will "wake before the time that Romeo comes" she "drinks" the posion in an effor tot reunite with Romeo instead of marrying Paris, showing her loyalty to Romeo.
  • Romoe and Juliet go into great dangers to be with one another, including suicide; Romeo believes that Juliet is dead and drinks the drugged poison from teh apothecary and dies "with a kiss" to be with Juliet. And when Juliet wakes to find Romeo dead she "stabs herself" with Romeos dagger to be with Romeo. 
  • CONTEXT: Courtly love was popular in Elizabethan Era as it was a common 'sport' in the Queens court which involved worshiping and wooing ones lover. Becuase Juliet is restrained to her home by her patriarchal father, her concept of 'true love' may be distroted and naive as she has no experience.
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  • We know that both houses hate each other, as in the prologue we are told that the "two household both alike in dignity" are at feud "from ancient grudge beark to new mutiny" and we understand that there has been violence as "civil blood makes civil hands unclean"
  • The hatred is put into perspective in Act 1 Scene 1 by how the elderly men are daring to fight but are restricted by their wives : Capulet says "Give me my long sword, ho!" to which Lady Capulet teases "A crutch, a crutch!" Similarly, Montague says "Thou Villian Capulet! - Hold me not, let me go" to which Lady Montague refuses "thou shall not stir one foot to seek a foe" 
  • At the end of the play, the two families reconcile at the death of their children as a result of the feud : Capulet says "O brother Montague, give me thy hand" to which Montague replies "I will raise her statue in pure gold"
  • CONTEXT - this is a big step for both families, they are sacrificing defending their honour via violence to rewrite their family honours and treat each other with kindness and humanity
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