I have been asked to write an assignment on Romeo and Juliet – a play written by William Shakespeare around 1600 and still one of the most popular Romantic-Tragedies performed in theatre today.I have chosen Juliet because I believe she is an interesting character and she has a subtly split personality or conflict of loyalties, which I find interesting and which I feel a lot of teenagers today might identify with.I have to chosen to look in detail at the whole of Act 3 Scene 5 after line 59, when Romeo has left.
’JULIETArt thou gone so? Love, lord, ay, husband, friend!I must hear from thee every day in the hour,For in a minute there are many days:O, by this count I shall be much in yearsEre I again behold my Romeo!ROMEOFarewell!I will omit no opportunityThat may convey my greetings, love, to thee.JULIETO think’st thou we shall ever meet again?ROMEOI doubt it not; and all these woes shall serveFor sweet discourses in our time to come.
JULIETO God, I have an ill-divining soul!Methinks I see thee, now thou art below,As one dead in the bottom of a tomb:Either my eyesight fails, or thou look’st pale.ROMEOAnd trust me, love, in my eye so do you:Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu!’The contrast of joy over time with Romeo followed by sadness at their parting means that Juliet is already in a heightened emotional state before the news comes which is to cause her to oppose her parent’s will for the first time ever.
This scene is vital to understand Juliet’s changing character.’JULIETAy, madam, from the reach of these my hands:Would none but I might venge my cousin’s death!LADY CAPULETWe will have vengeance for it, fear thou not:Then weep no more. I’ll send to one in Mantua,Where that same banish’d runagate doth live,Shall give him such an unaccustom’d dram,That he shall soon keep Tybalt company:And then, I hope, thou wilt be satisfied.JULIETIndeed, I never shall be satisfiedWith Romeo, till I behold him–dead–Is my poor heart for a kinsman vex’d.Madam, if you could find out but a manTo bear a poison, I would temper it;That Romeo should, upon receipt thereof,Soon sleep in quiet. O, how my heart abhorsTo hear him named, and cannot come to him.To wreak the love I bore my cousinUpon his body that slaughter’d him!’The scene takes place in Juliet’s bedroom. Her mother enters soon after line 64, immediately after Romeo leaves. Capulet’s wife asks Juliet how she is and asks if she’s missing her cousin Tybalt (who recently was killed by Romeo) Previously, Capulet and his wife discussed bringing forward Juliet’s wedding to Paris to the next Thursday as Juliet had been extremely emotional since the death of Tybalt.’JULIETMadam, in happy time, what day is that?LADY CAPULETMarry, my child, early next Thursday morn,The gallant, young and noble gentleman,The County Paris, at Saint Peter’s Church,Shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.’Juliet becomes very anxious regarding this and when her father enters with the Nurse (around line 122) an argument between Juliet and her father ensues.’JULIETNot proud, you have; but thankful, that you have:Proud can I never be of what I hate;But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.CAPULETHow now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?’Proud,’ and ‘I thank you,’ and ‘I thank you not;’And yet ‘not proud,’ mistress minion, you,Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds,But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next,To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church,Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!You tallow-face!LADY CAPULETFie, fie! what, are you mad?”Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch! I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thurday, or never look me in the face.’Juliet then seeks support from her mother, who refuses to speak to her:’Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word. Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.’ (Line 202)When her mother and father have left, Juliet then turns to the Nurse for support.’JULIETO God!–O nurse, how shall this be prevented?My husband is on earth, my faith in heaven;How shall that faith return again to earth,Unless that husband send it me from heavenBy leaving earth? comfort me, counsel me.Alack, alack, that heaven should practise stratagemsUpon so soft a subject as myself!What say’st thou? hast thou not a word of joy?Some comfort, nurse.NurseFaith, here it is.Romeo is banish’d; and all the world to nothing,That he dares ne’er come back to challenge you;Or, if he do, it needs must be by stealth.Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,I think it best you married with the county.O, he’s a lovely gentleman!Romeo’s a dishclout to him: an eagle, madam,Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eyeAs Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart,I think you are happy in this second match,For it excels your first: or if it did not,Your first is dead; or ’twere as good he were,As living here and you no use of him.JULIETSpeakest thou from thy heart?NurseAnd from my soul too;Or else beshrew them both.’The Nurse has been a de facto mother to Juliet and far closer to her than her real mother. She knows about the marriage to Romeo but she encourages her to forget Romeo and seek happiness with her second love (Paris)’Romeo’s a dish clout to him, An eagle madam, Hath no green so quick, so fair an eye As Paris hath. Besrew my very heart, I think you are happy in this second match, for it excels your first; or if it did not, Your first is dead, or ’twere as good he were As living hence and you no use of thy heart?’Juliet realises she has no support from those around her, so she holds back her feelings and calmly tells the Nurse she’ll do as she says. She instructs the Nurse to inform her mother she is gone to confession, “…having angered my father.” However, the scene ends with Juliet contemplating her own death if the Friar will not help or support her:’If all else fail, myself have power to die.’The scene is important to the play because her parents place greater pressure on Juliet to marry Paris than she anticipated and based on a time-scale which means that the plan for time to heal before reconciliation takes place cannot now happen. Up to this point, Juliet imagined that she had two years or so before having to deal with her father’s marriage plans. Now she finds that she has two days. This makes her anxious and so she challenges her parents. This unexpected response to what was intended as a caring act makes them feel angry and they see her as being wilful, selfish and disobedient.’JULIETO, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,From off the battlements of yonder tower;Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurkWhere serpents are; chain me with roaring bears;Or shut me nightly in a charnel-house,O’er-cover’d quite with dead men’s rattling bones,With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;Or bid me go into a new-made graveAnd hide me with a dead man in his shroud;Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble;And I will do it without fear or doubt,To live an unstain’d wife to my sweet love.’That she is willing to challenge her parents in an age when children were ‘seen and not heard’ and when girls were thought of as property, also demonstrates how much Juliet loves Romeo. She loves him so much so much that she will challenge her parents, her Nurse and her Friar, even to the point of death if she has to. She is therefore, for the first time in her life, all on her own and unsupported, but strengthened by the power of her love.Romeo is present in the first part of the scene but leaves before Capulet, his wife and nurse arrive. Juliet is the only character to remain on stage throughout the entire scene. Juliet is the daughter of Capulet and Lady Capulet and Nurse has been her wet nurse and nanny since Juliet’s birth.Capulet represents authority and the older generation. He is motivated to make Juliet happy by marrying her to a successful young man (Paris). However, he is also motivated by increasing the power and influence this marriage will create for his family and his line. He may have been unusual in Shakespeare’s time to have cared so much about Juliet’s feelings, but as head of the house he had a duty to ensure that it kept its influence. His anger is complex. He is angry having got such a good match for Juliet only to have her reject his efforts; he is angry because if she refuses to marry Paris the whole town will know that he cannot control his daughter; and he is angry because he puts her refusal down to over-reacting to the death of Tybalt.Lady Capulet does not have the depth of relationship with Juliet that the Nurse has with her, therefore, she finds it difficult to reason with Juliet when Juliet rejects Paris and all he stands for;’Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.’This reflects the familial relationships of the age in which Shakespeare wrote. The bringing up of children was left to servants whilst the Lady of the house ran the social side of the family to ensure that they had the right friends and contacts.The Nurse has torn loyalties as she knows the depth of feelings Juliet has for Romeo. However, she is also employed by the Capulet’s and has responsibilities to the family name. To the audience of the time her pragmatic attitude to love would be perfectly sensible. She comes from a class that has to work hard all of their lives and is always at the mercy of the rich and powerful. If she offends Capulet she will lose her position and her home and her security for her old age. To her, love is a means of achieving security – she cannot afford the romantic notion which governs Romeo and Juliet.In my production, I would use a modern, typical teenage bedroom; walls filled with pop idols and untidy surroundings. Juliet is wearing jeans and a rugby top with trainers. She has long blond curly hair scrunched up in a bun method.The scene would be set in a detached country house in Stalybridge and Juliet is dressed appropriately to show she is a teenager living in the 21st century. Lady Capulet is dressed in a smart, well fitted suit with court shoe, a flicked up highlighted bob hairstyle and perfect make-up. She has an orange glow to show she frequently uses sun beds. She has a manicurist and so has beautiful nails. This is to show Lady Capulet is a superior character who can be self confident and self seeking.The Nurse is wearing a tracksuit and trainers (homely and practical) She is older than Juliet; of an age with her parents.Capulet is wearing a businessman’s suit without any distinguishing features. Romeo is wearing a basketball top, shorts and trainers. This shows their upper-middle class wealth. The scene is obviously set in Juliet’s bedroom.To make the scene more effective to the audience I will use music where appropriate (i.e. strident, fast music in the background while they’re arguing) I’ll have the cameras cutting quickly between the characters when Capulet, Lady Capulet and the Nurse enter and slowly zoom in when the argument between Juliet and Capulet erupts. The language would be filled with an angry tone from her father, a flustered and upset tone from Juliet, concern from the Nurse and tired exasperation from her mum.The scene will begin with a wide camera shot of the whole room; it will slowly focus on Juliet’s face to the exclusion of everyone else. This reflects the message of the scene – she has Romeo, but then loses him. Her mother begins to act supportively (asking how she’s feeling) but leaves stating she doesn’t want to speak to her anymore. Her father begins by shouting at her, in a bullying manner. Nurse, Juliet’s closest ally, is quiet for most of the scene and ends telling her to forget Romeo. Juliet feels trapped, alone, desperate and suicidal.When Capulet leaves the cameras will zoom in to a close up on Juliet and her tear tracked face, red eyes and flustered expression. After a short while focusing on the tears in Juliet’s eyes, the light goes darker and darker until the screen is black. This shows the dramatic ending to the scene, showing Juliet’s end emotions. The dark room at the end reflects the sadness and leaves viewers with sadness and strong feelings towards the couple. The conclusion to the play should be sad and important to the play’s structure. It will leave people wondering and thinking, instead of leaving and forgetting the plot.If it were filmed in this way, the effect of the scene would be to bring out the idea that Capulet was too harsh towards Juliet and maybe the mum and Nurse could have been nicer. The key moment can be shown by Juliet looking upset and angry towards the end of the scene. The scene would show Juliet’s feelings in more depth and her dad’s reaction when he tells her his plans. This makes a huge ‘gap’ between the generations.For me, the key message of this scene is the helplessness Juliet feels. Her family have always provided for her in every way but since meeting, and falling in love with Romeo, her world has been turned upside down. Her cousin has been killed by her husband, her family hate his family, her family don’t know she’s married. She feels they are forcing her to marry someone else, and Romeo has been banished: completely alone and desperate, she considers suicide. Her only remaining hope is to turn to Friar Lawrence.In Shakespeare’s own time it was more common for wealthy families to organise proposals of marriage, like that between Juliet and Paris. In my scene, in Stalybridge 2004, the pressure of the family is more subtle as Juliet, in today’s time, would like to marry for love but the family still want her to marry a successful man. Today (2004) Juliet would want to co-habit with her boyfriend Romeo rather than marry the professional Paris. The feud between the families prevents any possibility of this.