Lady Capulet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Powerful Essays
Lady Capulet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

A woman during the 16th century did not have the freedoms that a woman today enjoys. During Shakespeare’s life wives were not allowed the independence they take pleasure in today. Therefore, the role of the mother for Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is not commanding or authoritative because of the time period Shakespeare lived.

The role of a wife must be looked at in order to understand and appreciate Juliet’s mother. When a couple was married during the 16th century, Susan Amussen said it was the beginning of a partnership, but not one of equal proportions. The husband is awarded all the power in the family. He represents the family to the outside world and keeps the peace within the household. The wife is only an assistant. Her duties included feeding and running the household smoothly. Helping with the family business is another duty the wife has to carry out (86).

Lady Capulet abides by these rules when dealing with her daughter. She knows her husband is planning to marry their daughter to Paris. It is she that must prepare Juliet for the news because one of her duties is to take care of the household. However, Lady Capulet has no say of who Juliet should marry, because that is left to the husband who is lord of the manor.

Instead it is the wife’s duty to inform her child that she must prepare herself for marriage. Lady Capulet was married at an age younger than Juliet is. She says, "By my count I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid" (1.3.73-75). It is time Juliet leaves her nest and adds to the family’s fortune. The mother is the one to tell Juliet this news because she was put into the same situation as her daughter. During the ...

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...s set for a woman of this time and carried them out with dignity. She was a true 16th century woman.

Works Cited

Amussen, Susan. "The Family and the Household" in A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David Kastan. Malden Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1999. 85-99.

Dash, Irene. Wooing, Wedding, and Power: Women in Shakespeare’s Plays. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Pitt, Angela. Shakespeare’s Women. New Jersey: Barnes & Noble Books, 1981.

Rich, Barnaby. "Women as Property" in Dusinberre, Juliet. Shakespeare and the Nature of Women. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1975. 115.

Shakespeare, William. The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The Norton Shakespeare Based on the Oxford Edition. Gen. Ed. Stephen and Ed. Walter Cohen, Jean Howard, and Katherine Maus. New York: Norton & Company, 1997. 872-941.
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