The Character of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet is a play of love and hatred. In the centre of it all is Juliet, barely fourteen and still reliant on her wet nurse, yet willing to take her own life then to live without the one she loves. In the short four days, in which the play takes place, Juliet faces more than most in a lifetime. She is forced into marriage, she secretly marries an enemy of her house, her new husband kills her cousin and is exiled only allowing her one night of wedded bliss. She has to pretend to kill herself only to find her husband dead beside her, after which she takes her own life. During this emotional rollercoaster Juliet changes from an innocent, naïve thirteen-year-old to a defiant and independent young heroine. I have chosen Act 1 Scene 3, Act 3 Scene 5 (lines 69-242), and her soliloquy in Act 4 Scene 4 to compare, as they show different stages of Juliet's change in character.

Act 1 Scene 3 is the scene where Juliet is first introduced to us. The Nurse and Lady Capulet tell us she is not yet fourteen, and she is portrayed as a young child, unaware and innocent. She is silent for most of the scene, showing that she is obedient, she does not speak until spoken to. When her mother talks of marriage, Juliet replies, "It is an honour I dream not of." Showing that she has not thought about marriage, as with most thirteen-year-olds, I think that she does not want to get married yet but is polite and describes it as "an honour". She is willing to meet Paris, though, "No more deep will I endart mine eye Than your consent gives strength to make it fly." She will still look for approval from her parents giving the audience the impression that Juliet is trusting and innocent.

By Act 3 Scene 5, Romeo had been exiled and Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, killed. In this scene Juliet uses ambiguous words to mislead her mother. "With Romeo, till I behold him --- dead --- is my poor heart, so for a kinsman vex'd." To her mother it Juliet seems to be grieving for her cousin's death and...
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