‘Romeo and Juliet’-Act 4 Questions 1 and 2

* In 1.2.3 Capulet states that, ‘men so old as we to keep the peace.’ This statement suggests that he not only is old by in other people’s opinions, but is old in his own as well. This really does suggest that Capulet is a man of considerable age because men tend to see themselves as young, dynamic man they used to be. The fact that Capulet is resigned to old age suggests that he is a man of a considerably ripe age.In 1.3.71-72 Lady Capulet tells her daughter that, ‘By my count I was your mother much upon these years that you are now maid,’ suggesting that she is double Juliet’s age. We know that Juliet is 14, thus Lady Capulet is roughly 28.In 1.5.30-38 Capulet is talking about how long ago he and Cousin Capulet ‘were last in a mask.’ Cousin Capulet also says that, ‘you and I are past our dancing days,’ thus again supporting the assertion that Capulet is of considerable age. We can get an extremely good idea of the age difference between Lord and Lady Capulet because Cousin Capulet says that it was, ‘thirty years,’ since they had been dancing together. If we take an educated guess that Capulet was roughly thirty when he stopped dancing, he is now in the region of sixty years old, more than double the age of Capulet.In the stage directions Capulet is referred to as, ‘old Capulet,’ further suggesting that Shakespeare intended that Capulet was to be marked out as being particularly older than anybody else.The fact that Lady Capulet shows deference to her husband could be due to any number of factors: conventions of marriage of the times, wealth, status, personality, and age difference. However no one reason is privileged in the text and it is up to each director to interpret the marriage within the limits of the text. So we cannot say that it is the age difference alone that ahs created their distant relationship.* In 1.2.12-13 Capulet advises Paris, sagely, that, ‘too soon marred are those so early made,’ suggesting that Lady Capulet was, ‘marred,’ by having Juliet so early. This comment suggests that, as could be the marriage of Romeo and Juliet, the Capulet marriage was perhaps spontaneous and romantic at the start when Lady Capulet was only fourteen, young, attractive, and innocent, but now, having grown old with each other, after being ‘spoilt’ by birth, and lost her figure, they had grown apart. All this could possibly suggest about their relationship is that they are tired of each other and that Capulet is fickle.* In 3.5.156 and 174 Lady Capulet protests weakly to her husband that he is being, ‘too hot’ with his daughter and is in some way, ‘mad’. While these are criticisms of her husband she only speaks twice in this very substantial scene. We can tell from these short lines that she totally resents her husband’s treatment of her daughter. The fact that Lady Capulet is only able to summon the courage to protest to her husband’s tirade twice shows that she is scared of his reaction towards her if she dared to comment further. We know that she is not usually one to hold back on words in previous scenes, so we know that her silence is not a normal trait of her character.* In .4.4.11 Lady Capulet says to her husband that he has, ‘been a mouse-hunt,’ in his time, and that she, ‘will watch [him] from such watching now’. The first part of the comment suggests that Lady Capulet is still harbouring some bitterness from Capulet’s earlier extra marital relationships. Lady Capulet also could be embittered from this because she does not feel able to have an affair herself because of her lack of power and the male dominance of society not allowing women to divorce their husbands. However, now, in his old age she is trying to re-address the balance of power between them, by exerting some power of her own over him by making sure he does not partake in, ‘such watching now.’2.The question of an affair between Tybalt and Lady Capulet is simply a matter of direction, as there is no textual evidence to suggest such a relationship. In the final part of question one, we have established that some motive may exist, but it is no more than a closeness in age and some marital discontent. Although this is perhaps an interesting question, there is a danger in over-interpreting and moving away from the text. We cannot ask Tybalt and Lady Capulet, as they are characters in a play and are therefore constructs. Neither can we ask Shakespeare what his intentions were. So, we are left with the text and it contains few stage directions, leaving only the words of the characters. Therefore, if I was directing this play I would not consider this interpretation because I would need to have more textual evidence, and want to use less dramatic licence, because the relationship does not add enough to the play to warrant the deviation from Shakespeare’s own intentions.

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