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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, naÐ"Їve 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 wanting revenge, "Till I behold him dead, is my poor heartÐ'..." However she is comforting herself and weeping for Romeo, "Till I behold him, dead is my poor heart." The punctuation is important and can be manipulated to mean different things, something the naÐ"Їve and trusting Juliet would never do to deceive her parents. Her cunning words were followed by rebellious words, "He shall not make me there a joyful brideÐ'... and when I do I swear it shall be Romeo, whom I know you hate." Her words are strong and determined, and she uses irony. She has become independent and her choice of words show she has become more sophisticated rather than the child she was. When she has begged both her parents, in vain, she turns to the Nurse, in hope of comfort and advice. "What sayst thou? Hast thou not a word of joy? Some comfort, Nurse" She is still hoping for words of false hope, rather than trying to solve the problem before her, a young girl still crying for her nurse. When she does not hear what she wants to hear she becomes cold and calm, suddenly no longer trusts the Nurse. "...And from my soul too, else beshew them bothÐ'... (J) Amen." Juliet curses the Nurse's curse on her



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