Twisted Family Relations in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
The play Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona. It is a story about a long feud between the Montague and Capulet families and this causes tragic results for the main characters in the play, Romeo and Juliet. The events in the play contrast hatred and revenge with love and a secret marriage, forcing the young lovers to separate and die tragically in despair.
Romeo and Juliet first met in a party which was thrown by the Capulets. No Montague was invited to the party, though Romeo with his two siblings visited the party just to have a glance of Juliet. Both Romeo and Juliet fell for each other in the party itself. But they belong to families who were enemies, who hate each other. At first, they were sure that they can never marry each other, the society and their family will never accept this. Anyways, they were helped by Friar Laurence, who helped them to marry in secret instead. Unfortunately, before their wedding night there was a fight between Romeo’s cousin and Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt. In this fight Juliet’s cousin killed Romeo’s cousin and thus Romeo out of anger killed Juliet’s cousin. Accordingly, the head Montague and the head Capulet were called into the court of Prince Escalus, who manages the law in Verona, where Romeo was accused of guilt and sent to exile. The Price ordered that if Romeo ever returns to the city, he will be put to death.
Juliet’s marriage was already fixed with Counter Paris whom she was about to meet in the party thrown by her parents where instead she met Romeo. Her marriage date was fixed by her parents. But her parents did not know she is already married. She refuses to marry Paris in the beginning, but later agrees because she made plans with the help of Friar Laurence to fake her death and escape to be with Romeo forever.
Friar Laurence was a great supporter of their love. In order to escape Juliet’s marriage with Paris, he gives Juliet a sleeping potion. After drinking the potion, she appears to be dead for 26 hours and was put in a tomb. Friar had sent a messenger to Romeo telling about their plans. But the messenger was late to reach Romeo. On the other side, Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio who was also unaware of the plan reach him before the messenger and tells that Juliet is dead. Romeo hurries to her grave, finds her dead, and kills himself. After a while when Juliet finally wakes up, she discovers that Romeo is dead and then she kills herself.
Significance of family in Romeo and Juliet
The main reason for the tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet” is due to the feud between two noble families in the town of Verona, the Montague’s and the Capulet’s. Romeo was the son of Montague and Juliet was the daughter of Capulet who fell in love at first sight and had to keep their affection secret from their family because if the parents found out about it, the hatred would have increased and caused more conflicts. This would have also resulted in the outcast of Romeo and Juliet from their family and made them both unforgivable to their parents. This indicates the importance of the family of that period. Knowing that Juliet is the daughter of Capulet, enemy of Romeo’s family, he pursues his love showing negative attitude towards his family. Same goes with Juliet; knowing Romeo as her enemy, she falls in love with him. In the play, Romeo is not seen with his parents, which means there was not much connection between them.
The relation between Juliet and her mother Lady Capulet is stereotypical for rich families in the era in which the play was set. Juliet’s mother called forth her to talk about marriage. Lady Capulet says Juliet that she was already a mother at her age. When Juliet says, ‘it is an honor that I dream not of’. Lady Capulet becomes forceful and says ‘Well think of marriage now, younger then you’. She also describes Paris’ masculinity and charm to seek Juliet’s love.
Though Lord Capulet had high respect for his daughter, letting her make decisions and giving her a choice as for what she wants in later life. It is also seen that he doesn’t want to force Juliet into difficult situations or force her into getting married. And this can be interpreted from his conversation with Paris when he says, ‘My child is yet a stranger to this world, she hath not seen the change of fourteen years’, ‘But woo her gentle Paris, get her heart’ and, ‘And she agreed within her scope of choice’.
Juliet’s relation with the nurse was much more connective then her own mother. The nurse tells Juliet she ‘wast the prettiest babe that e’er I nurs’d and I might live to see thee married once, I have my wish’ and after her secret marriage with Romeo, the nurse tells her, ‘Go girl, seek happy nights to happy days’, advising her to have a good night time with Romeo as well as having a good time during the day. Lady Capulet could never be friend with Juliet. While Juliet shared all her secrets to the nurse who was much more motherly. The nurse has the main role in the upbringing of Juliet. Even Juliet refers to the nurse as ‘O honey nurse’, ‘good sweet nurse’ and ‘Sweet, sweet, sweet nurse’. Both Romeo and Juliet had a much closer relation with the Friar and the nurse in comparison to their parents. Friar Laurence plays a key role after Romeo’s banishment by keeping the communication going between Romeo and Juliet and giving advice to Romeo on what should be done. The Friar always wanted Romeo and Juliet to run away outside of Verona so they can be together and live like a normal happily married couple.
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