– Draft version 3
The tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was first produced around 1595, since when it has been one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays. Taking place in Verona, Italy, it is set against the background of a constant feud between two rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues. At a party at the Capulet’s house, one of the Montagues, a young man called Romeo, falls in love at first sight with Juliet, Lord Capulet’s only child. She returns his love and they are married in secret by Friar Lawrence.
When Romeo’s friend Mercutio is killed by Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, Romeo kills Tybalt and is forced to flee. Meanwhile, Lord Capulet decides that Juliet will marry her cousin Count Paris, which prompts Friar Lawrence to give Juliet a sleeping potion to produce in her the effects of death. He then sends a message to Romeo telling him of this ruse, but his message fails to arrive. Juliet is presumed dead and her body is taken to the family vault, where Romeo finds her. Overcome with emotion, he commits suicide next to her; she wakes, finds his body next to her and kills herself with his dagger. This double tragedy brings their rival families together in joint grief.
Lord Capulet, or Capulet as he is referred to in the text, has a major influence upon the course of events in the play. As head of the Capulet household he has both power and wealth; his key contribution to the plot is to arrange the marriage of his daughter to Paris, and to reject her when she refuses to accept his decision to do so. This causes her to take the sleeping potion that results, ultimately, in her death.
We first see Capulet in the very first scene where he calls for his sword, to ‘stand up to’ his rival Lord Montague. His dominant attitude towards those around him, which would be expected of a man of his age and position at that time, is clear from the start.
In Act 1, Scene 2 Capulet, referring Lord Montague, suggests to Paris