The Depiction of Lord Capulet in Romeo & Juliet
Set in the city of Verona during the 12th/13th century, Romeo and Juliet, is a typical love story by William Shakespeare with a tragedy twist. When Romeo Montague and his friends gate-crash Lord Capulet’s party, the last thing he imagined he would do is find the love of his life, Juliet. After realising Romeo is the son of her father’s sworn enemy they decide to keep their relationship secret and get married behind her families back. When Romeo’s best friend Mercutio is stabbed and killed by Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, Romeo kills Tybalt and is declared banished.
Meanwhile, Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet, decides to cheer his daughter up by allowing her to marry Paris, though unknown to him, she is already married. Severely wanting to get out of this marriage and with her husband, Romeo, in a different town, Juliet seeks assistance from the priest, father Lawrence, who hands her a ‘poison’ which will mimic death for 24 hours, after her funeral she would be placed into a vault and when she awakes from her deep sleep her and Romeo would be able to run away to be together.
Romeo is unaware of this plan as he is out when the messenger arrives so when his friend Balthasar learns of the death he immediately travels to tell Romeo. With Romeo thinking his love is dead he takes the risk of going back to Verona to say his final farewell to Juliet, when he arrives he is automatically spotted and the police, once Romeo had purchased poison he makes his way to the church.
Soon enough, father Lawrence learns that Romeo has no idea Juliet is actually still alive. Inside the church Romeo drinks the poison which begins to kill him.. just as Juliet begins to wake, she realizes it’s too late and takes his gun to her head, Killing her instantly. Act 1 scene 1, we see several men from two families (the Capulet’s and the Montague’s) take part in a fight led by Tybalt, a Capulet and Juliet’s cousin, and Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin and therefore a Montague.
This is where we get the feel of absolute hatred between the two families. A loathing which has been passed down through generations, started between Lord Capulet, an overpowering and very controlling man and Lord Montague and equally powerful man. We are first introduced to Lord Capulet when he gets involved in a fight between Sampson, Gregory Benvolio and Tybalt. He is shown to be aggressive and confrontational because he says ‘What noise is this?
Give me long sword ho! ’ as soon and he arrives. Which could indicate he doesn’t think about what he says and can be immature as well as how willing he is to get involved in the pointless feud, this is until Prince informs them ‘Once more, on pain of death, all men depart’ which implies if there is another street both Lord Capulet, Lord Montague and any other men involved will be executed, This is when Lord Capulet’s mood changes and he becomes calm.
In Act 1 scene 2 Lord Capulet seems calm and willing to make peace with Lord Montague, we know this because he says ‘… ‘tis not hard, I think for men so old as we to keep the peace. ’ ‘… _we_ to keep the peace’ This shows he is trying to approach Lord Montague in an equal and friendly manor as he accepts there cannot be any more violent outbreaks in the streets anymore. We next see Lord Capulet in the Capulet household in the midst of a party when he is calmly talking to Paris about his daughter Juliet.
Women in the Elizabethan age could refuse marriage but would be disowned by their families. In the beginning of Romeo and Juliet, Lord Capulet thinks Juliet is ‘too young’ and ‘still a stranger to the world’ . This is showing himself to be a very caring and loving father, this could be because he has no other children and could also be the reason he treats Tybalt like the son he never had. He refuses Prince the hand of his daughter because he doesn’t want to lose her yet, he goes on to change his mind later in the story.
In the next scene Romeo Montague gatecrashes the Capulet’s party, Lord Capulet appears to be very respected by Tybalt because when Romeo is spotted and threatened by him, Lord Capulet looks at him and says “Content thee, Gentle coz, let him alone;” He goes on to say “Here in my house do him no disparagement; Therefore be patient, take no note of him; It is my will, the which if thou respect”.
This is showing himself to be a fair man, treating his family and his enemy’s son the same and shows that he is clever, powerful and respected as he doesn’t want to make a scene in public and in front of his friends and family, Surprisingly Tybalt doesn’t go against his word at all, he listens and respects the wishes of his uncle. Shakespeare is showing this man to be kind and rational, we make a judgment at this stage
on how he isn’t reacting to the fact Romeo is his the son of his arch-rival. In this scene Lord Capulet also compliments Romeo by calling him ‘A virtuous and well governed youth’ which shows how relaxed he is about the young Montague’s presence because we couldn’t imagine him complimenting an enemy in such a way. By the next point in the story, Tybalt and Mercutio are dead and we start to get an idea of what sort of a man Lord Capulet really is.
In Act 3 Scene 4 he changes his mind and allows Prince to marry Juliet for a few reasons i. e. He wants her to be married and settled to a man he approves of, He wants to be proud of her, He wants her to be married to a man who has money, is generous, powerful and respected … not knowing that she is already married to Romeo. After Tybalt is killed we know Juliet is devastated because she locks herself in her room, only letting Romeo in because he appears on her balcony, unbeknown to her father.
We also know Tybalt’s death isn’t the only reason for her upset the other reason she is in such shock is the fact her ‘true love’, Romeo, is the reason for Tybalt’s death although her father doesn’t know , if he knew Romeo and Juliet were married she would be disowned by him and the rest of their family. Lord Capulet decides to bring the wedding forward in order to cheer her up, we know this because he says ‘She loved her kinsman Tybalt dearly’, He sees the wedding of his only child an opportunity to lift the mood after such death in the family.
Unfortunately Juliet doesn’t want to marry Prince because she is in love with the now banished, Romeo. When Lady Capulet tells Juliet of her husband’s plans for her to be wed ‘early next Thursday morn’ she is surprised but refuses and tells her mother ‘When I do marry, I swear, It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, rather than Paris’ , We can tell from this sentence that she hasn’t told her mother of her relationship with Romeo and that her mother thinks Juliet hates Romeo for killing Tybalt.
As Lord Capulet enters her room he immediately describes her body as a ‘fountain’ and says ’in one little body thou counterfeit’s a bark, a sea, a wind, For thy eyes, which I may call the sea, Do ebb and flow with tears. Thy bark thy body is, Sailing in this salt flood. Thy winds thy sighs…’ Which shows us he is concerned about her and her wellbeing, showing him to be a caring father for a split-second. He is angered when he hears that she will not be
marrying Paris and disowns her straightaway, he says unforgivable things to her such as ‘Out, you green sickness, carrion! Out you baggage! You tallow face’ he also calls her a ‘Disobedient wretch’ He goes on to say ‘Get thee to church o’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the face’ , so he’s saying she either marries Paris or she’ll lose her father, She has to make the decision. There is a suggestion of physical violence when Lord Capulet exclaims ‘My fingers itch.’
Implying he wants to hit her for disrespecting him by disagreeing with him. He reminds her of the importance of family and marrying to obtain a high status, we know this because he says ‘And having now provided A gentleman of A noble parentage, Of fair demesnes, youthful and nobly trained, stuffed as they say, with honorable parts’ he describes Paris in this way because he is trying to persuade Juliet to marry him, its as if he doesn’t want to disown her.
Lord Capulet decides that she can ‘No longer house with me’ unless she marries Paris and he would rather see her beg, starve and die in the streets than live with her if she doesn’t go through with the marriage. Lord Capulet’s behavior in this scene shocks us because we are used to seeing him as a caring and loving father towards Juliet and we don’t expect him to go this far when she refuses because he has seemed like a calm man in previous scenes. It’s sad to see his behavior change this dramatically towards her because a father should look out for his daughter.
It’s also sad to see because it was his decision and she hasn’t had a choice in the matter at all and the feud between the Montague’s and Capulet’s was started between the two fathers so it isn’t Juliet’s fault and she should be able to see Romeo if she wants to. During the play, the language Lord Capulet uses to describe Juliet changes a lot. In the beginning of the play he describes her as ‘still a stranger to the world’ and ‘too young to marry’ which shows he is a caring father.
He is looking out for his daughter and by saying she is too young to marry, he is trying to protect her from growing up too fast. His behavior towards her changes vastly when she refuses to marry Paris possibly because he has spent time trying to protect her and now she throws it back in his face by disagreeing with him. Although Lord Capulet is unaware of the fact she is already married, she has just delayed being disowned by her father by keeping her marriage to Romeo a secret.
We notice the change immediately because one minute he’s describing her sadness and acting like he cares about her enough to be concerned about her happiness and then he change into a stubborn and, what seems like, a care-free father . We notice the change when he says ‘What is this? “Proud” and “I thank you” and “I thank you not” And yet not “proud”? Mistress minion you. ’ We don’t think he is capable of disowning his only child but he continues to call her ‘Baggage’ and ‘Green sickness’ which shows just how upset and angry he is with her.
He uses harsh words by saying ‘An you be mine, I’ll give you my friend. An you be not, Hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, For, my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee, Nor what is mine shall never do thee good’ saying he no longer will want anything to do with her if she doesn’t marry Paris and he would rather see her beg, starve and die on the streets rather than give her somewhere to live and he’ll never want anything to do with her, however if she agrees to marry Paris then he will forgive her for disagreeing and she can stay living there etc.
Act 4 scene 5, When Juliet is found ‘dead’ in her bedroom , Lord Capulet appears to be grief-stricken and genuinely upset even though he had said he would disown her if she didn’t marry Paris. His sadness over rules his power in this scene as he turns to Lady Capulet and says ‘ O Heaven! O wife, Look how our daughter bleeds! ’ showing that he is so upset, he doesn’t care about how he appears to anyone else. We realise he doesn’t see how he is partly responsible for her ‘death’ by forcing her into a marriage just to bring joy to himself, not in fact thinking at all about what Juliet would want.
If he had realised this, we may be able to feel more sympathetic towards him as he would have probably been really upset and angry with himself which, in turn, could have saved his daughter’s life when she awoke. When she does awake to find Romeo had poisoned himself, oblivious to the fact Juliet wasn’t dead at all, she shoots herself in the head with his gun so as they can be together after all, even if that means in a different life.
We notice that Lord Capulet realises the feud between the two families have been to blame for the two lovers’ deaths because he offers Lord Montague his hand and overall peace between the Montague’s and Capulet’s, Again showing the loving and caring fatherly side to himself. Throughout the entire play Lord Capulet’s mood varies between a loving, concerned father and an angry, heartless, powerful man. There are 4 main points in his behaviour.
In the beginning he comes across as a powerful man when he takes part in a fight , his attitude in this scene is limited as he seems to be this man who is only interested in showing the Montague family who owns the city. When he engages in a conversation with Paris about marrying Juliet, he becomes more of a caring father and try’s to look out for her by saying she is ‘Too young’ to marry and although he says she is ‘still a stranger to him? which suggests that he has doubts about her loyalty to him and this also shows an absence of trust in her.
The next main point is when he changes again to become an angry and somewhat cold man, we think this because he feels let down and his fears of loyalty towards him are true to an extent. He decides to disown her as a daughter unless she marries Paris because he feels let down and he obviously though he was doing right by her. He says he would rather see her beg and die on the streets than stay in that house, he calls her ‘baggage’ which we can guess means she was a ‘mistake’.
The last point we can gather how remorseful he is because he is totally overwhelmed with grief, we see the caring fatherly side to him for the last time in the final scene when the two lovers are found dead together in the chapel. We can tell he knows the feud has been the main reason for their deaths and rightly blames himself. We know how sorry he is when he offers peace to Lord Montague and we realise he has been a loving father and husband all the way through the play, he just thinks what he is doing (i. e. feuds, arranged marriages etc.) is all for the right reasons and he feels he is doing right by his family.
He finally understands that his wants and Juliet’s wants were completely different and all that she wanted was irrelevant by him at the time. We feel sympathy for him at this final point in the play because we can see how he realises everything now and it’s now too late to make up for the mistakes he has made, The only thing he can do is make peace with his rival. Lord Capulet chose his power over his family and by doing so, two young people ended up dying, making this the perfect tragedy and love story.