Juliet Capulet: Wikis

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Juliet or The Blue Necklace (1898) by John William Waterhouse.

Juliet Capulet is one of the title characters in William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the other being Romeo Montague. The story has a long history that precedes Shakespeare himself. The heroine's name was Giulietta in some earlier versions. It had become Juliet by the time Arthur Brooke wrote his narrative poem. Juliet is the daughter of a generous and very wealthy family in Verona, headed by Lord and Lady Capulet. She was their oldest child. She apparently had younger siblings at some point, but by the time of the play, she was their only surviving child. Juliet is the sole heir to the Capulets. As a child, she was cared for by her nurse, who is now her confidante, or Juliet's caretaker. As the story occurs, Juliet is approaching her fourteenth birthday (her sixteenth in Arthur Brooke's poem). She was born on "Lammas Eve at night" (August 1), so Juliet's birthday is July 31 (1.3.19). Her birthday is "a fortnight hence", putting the action of the play in mid-July (1.3.17).

Shakespeare's Juliet was very young; her father states that she "hath not seen the change of fourteen years" (1.2.9). In many cultures and time periods, women did and do marry and bear children at such a young age. However, in Shakespeare's England, most women were at least 21 before they did so. Romeo and Juliet is a play about Italian families. The average English playgoer in Shakespeare's audience had never met an Italian person, and it was commonly thought that they were quite exotic, the Italian male passionate and emotional, and the Italian female precocious and quite ready to become a mother by thirteen. Lady Capulet had given birth to Juliet by the time she had reached Juliet's age: "By my count, I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid" (1.3.74-75). The play celebrates youth while pointing out its impulsiveness, passion, and idealism; qualities which contribute to the tragedy. The adolescent infatuation of the lovers becomes elevated to the status of sacred love.

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Juliet by Philip H. Calderon.

The play takes place over a time span of four days. Within these few days, Juliet is thrust into adulthood quickly—where she must deal with issues of life, love, passion, and even death. During the play she is courted by a potential husband (Count Paris), falls in love with another (Romeo), marries Romeo secretly, experiences the death of her cousin Tybalt, has one brief passionate night with her new husband before he is forced to leave the city, is threatened by her father and nearly disowned by both of her parents for refusing to marry the man they have chosen for her, is emotionally betrayed by the nurse who raised her from infancy, spends nearly two days drugged to unconsciousness, is widowed, and ultimately commits suicide near the body of her dead husband.

Shakespeare's Juliet is a headstrong and intelligent character in spite of her young age, though she often seems timid to the audience because of her young age. She is considered by many to be the true hero of the play, acting as a sounding board and a balance against the impulsive Romeo. It is Juliet who sets the boundaries of behavior in her relationship with Romeo: she allows him to kiss her, she pledges her commitment before him, and it is she who suggests their marriage. Juliet's forgiveness of Romeo after he kills Tybalt indicates her mature nature in contrast to his passionate impulsiveness. Furthermore, Juliet lies and clandestinely subverts her family's wishes, a truly rebellious action against traditional Italian society. These actions and the choices they require establish Juliet as a far more complex character than her family, or even Romeo, appreciate.

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Character History

In Juliet's first scene, she demonstrates her obedience and lack of experience in the world, outlining herself as inexperienced and in many ways dependent on her parents and nurse. She has not given marriage a second thought but she does want to do what her mother asks. It is high time that Juliet go the route Lady Capulet went in her youth, and be married to a rich and powerful gentleman like her father. The Count Paris is a bit of a bystander in the play however, unwittingly mixed up in the drama between the families. He and Juliet have probably never even met as the play unfolds. His interest in her is primarily based on her social standing and her family's vast wealth, in contrast to her youthful beauty. He politely and nobly asks Capulet for her hand, and apparently would like her to begin bearing his children as soon as physically possible: "Younger than she are happy mothers made" (I.ii.12). Juliet, on the other hand, has no interest in becoming a wife and the mother of Paris's children: "(Marriage) is an honour that I dream not of" (I.iii.68). Even her father at first considers her too young to settle down. This may be a reflection on his feelings about his own wife, who might have been happier waiting a few years before marrying him. He tells Paris to let Juliet grow up for a few more years before planning marriage, but he pompously disagrees (I.ii.10-11). Of course, Juliet's mind on the matter changes within a few minutes of meeting Romeo, but when Paris is mentioned to her by her mother in act three she reverts back to an immature, whining, almost infantile state. Romeo's very presence seems to propel her toward maturity however, and her decisions are made quickly but thoughtfully from that point forward.

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Juliet's famous lines in the play Romeo and Juliet[1]

Romeo too seems to achieve depth through his intense love with Juliet. When compared to the pining and frustration he exhibited during his crush on Rosaline, his behavior toward Juliet and her family and his attitude in general both show a level of great maturity. The feud that one day had seemed all-encompassing now makes no sense, and he abandons it. Much of Romeo's dialogue with Juliet is an intricate pattern of words. Their rhyming couplets sometimes come together to create a poem. This symbolizes their union, and shows that Juliet can easily match Romeo in wordplay.

It is not clear exactly why Romeo and Juliet love each other, beyond immediate physical attraction. They were married not 24 hours after their first meeting. Fate plays a constant role in the story. Their love is "death-marked" (I.I.9), the lovers are "star-crossed" (I.I.6), and Romeo feels he is being led by the stars as a ship is steered by its pilot. The idea may be that the heirs to these two families were fated to end up together to end the feud, and their deaths may or may not have been part of that fate. The play may be interpreted differently according to the whim of the reader or viewer. The series of disastrous events that leads to their deaths may have been just a part of the destiny, or it may have been what shattered the fate and made the story a true tragedy. Either way, peace comes to the families.

In the end, Romeo dies, and Juliet kills herself over him. This happens because Juliet is scheduled to marry Paris. However, by then, she is already married to Romeo. Juliet asks the friar for help and he gives her a bottle with a liquid in it and he tells her to drink it and she will sleep for 42 hours. On the day of her wedding, she is still asleep (everyone thinks that she is dead) so they bury her in the Capulet tomb. The priest sends someone to tell Romeo about what happened to Juliet, but the messenger cannot get to him. Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead, so he buys poison and goes to her tomb. Outside the tomb, he fights and kills Paris, drinks the poison, and dies. When she wakes up, Juliet finds Romeo dead outside her coffin, and therefore kills herself by taking his knife and stabbing herself.

Casa di Giulietta

Juliet's purported balcony, in Verona. Beneath it, on the walls, there are love letters.

In Verona, a house claiming to be the Capulets' has been turned into a tourist attraction. It features the balcony, lovely architecture, and in the small courtyard, a bronze statue of Juliet. It is one of the most visited sites in the town. The metal of its chest is worn bare due to a legend that if a person strokes the breast of the statue, that person will have good fortune.[2]

Many people write their names and the names of their beloved ones on the walls of the entrance, known as Juliet's wall. Many believe that writing on that place will make their love everlasting. After a restoration and cleaning of the building, it was intended that further writing should be on replaceable panels[3] or white sheets[4] placed outside the wall.

It is also a tradition to put small love letters on the walls (which is done by the thousands each year), which are however regularly taken down by employees to keep the place clean. [5]

Performers

A number of famous actresses have portrayed the role of Juliet:

Animation

  • In Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss, Juliet is portrayed as a white seal and is voiced by Patricia Trippett while her brother Daniel did the voicing of the brown seal Romeo.
  • Fumie Mizusawa voices Juliet in the heroic-fantasy adaptation Romeo x Juliet by the Japanese animation studio GONZO, with Takahiro Mizushima voicing Romeo while Brina Palencia and Chris Burnett portrayed the characters the English-language version.

Fictional performers

  • In the Code Lyoko episode "Laughing Fit", Elisabeth Delmas played Juliet with Ulrich Stern as her Romeo, though Hervé wanted to play Romeo instead.
  • In an episode of The Brady Bunch, Marcia Brady was originally cast to play Juliet, but her arrogance upon getting the role eventually causes the teacher to ultimately turn her down.
  • In Bare, Ivy is cast as Juliet in Saint Cecilia's production.

Notes

References

  • Bevington, David, Ed. Romeo and Juliet, The Bantam Shakespeare (New York, 1988)
  • Levenson, Jill L., Ed. Romeo and Juliet, The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford, 2000)

Further reading

  • "Juliet's Taming of Romeo" Carolyn E. Brown; Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 36, 1996
  • "A Psychological Profile of Shakespeare's Juliet: Or Was It Merely Hormones?" Nancy Compton Warmbrod The English Journal, Vol. 69, No. 9 (Dec., 1980), p. 29

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