In this essay I am focusing on how the behavior of Lord and Lady Capulet are viewed by both a modern and contemporary audience. This play “Romeo and Juliet” was written by Shakespeare who was a magnificent writer. “Romeo and Juliet” was written in 1594 and its focus was on love and marriage which were arranged at the contemporary times. Modern audiences are people who are viewing something at the time after “Romeo and Juliet” was written. On the other hand contemporary audiences are people who are viewing the play back then when the play was actually written. This means that their opinions are divergent to the point of view of the modern audience. This is because over 400 years people’s social life have diverted from reverence towards parents and the decisions they make for you to making independent decisions about your life. Therefore in this essay I will describe how both audiences feel about Romeo and Juliet’s love and the decisions their parents made for their future.
In act 1scene 2 the conversation between Lord Capulet and Paris is very confidential. this is when Paris asks “what say you to my suit?” this is showing that Paris is interested in Juliet and suit is a term used for a proposal to her, we can sense that Paris is very eager to know the feeling of Juliet, it shows his impatient and has compelling feelings towards her. But this is not his first as he has asked before therefore it shows how desperate he is for her to like him. This would be seen as a very natural thing for both audiences as both people want to know how the other feels, and in contemporary times the man would find out through the girl’s parents. However modern audiences would be confused as he should be asking her not them.
On the other hand Capulet’s reply is much of a shock to Paris as he replies with “my will to her consent is but a part. And she agreed, within her scope of choice lies my consent and fair according voice.” here the contemporary would be staggered, this is because in those times parents would be rapturous to get their daughters married as soon as possible as it was a pleasure you find such a wealthy and noble young man. As ‘arranged marriage’ was very common in those days. The modern audience’s attitude to love varies to what people from the Elizabethan times think. Courtly love was very common in those times too which was when you loved in the times of Shakespeare arranged marriage was a fact of life, much like courtly love. Children respected their parents so much as to trust them to choose a suitable partner. Arranged marriages were not for love, but to write unite families, strengthen political bonds, and increase power and wealth.
The average age for girls to get married was 14 or 15 years old as it was legal. In the play the Capulet wanted Juliet to get married at the age of 13. Shakespeare’s audience would have accepted these ideas as it practices the Italian culture. Paris’s love towards Juliet was an example of courtly love as it was love from a distant and he did not know Juliet at all he just judged her on her looks. Courtly love however rarely led to marriage and this leads us to the ending of the story as Paris and Juliet did not get married either this is an example of dramatic irony which adds effect as it creates sympathy for both Paris and the later events. On the other hand they were very close, it shows that courtly love can be one-sided too as it was Paris with love for Juliet but Juliet felt nothing towards him.
At the end of Act 1 scene 2 Lord Capulet shows his real colors he finishes the scene with “among fresh female buds shall you this night herit at my house.” this shows how inside lord Capulet is still exactly like other parents in the Elizabethan times. As here he is implying that on the night of the party Paris will be guaranteed Juliet. The modern audience would see what a wicked man he is underneath. As a result the audience can already see inside lord Capulet slyly has agreed to the marriage but what will Juliet’s response be? That is one of the questions created in the audiences mind through Lord Capulet’s language. His actions are seen as a mystery to the audience as one minute he is involving Juliet the next he guarantees she will belong to Paris.
Act 1scene 3 Juliet hears about the arrangements for her wedding with Paris. She is told by lady Capulet and Juliet’s nurse who has been with her since she was born is present too. Discussing the arrangements so soon shows the urgency as lord Capulet and Paris discussed it in Act 1 scene 2. This shows the social role of men and women in the contemporary times as the men discussed first and made the arrangements and final decisions then the women were informed. This indicates that men had more power and held the final decisions for everything. Lady Capulet tries to act like a mother while telling Juliet of her marriage sashes calls Juliet “daughter” but Juliet replies with “madam” and this explains to the audience that Lady Capulet’s language towards Juliet is fake only used for persuasion.
This also adds tension and how dramatic the atmosphere is as how Juliet is trying to keep her distance and is not falling for anything as she knows whats happening. Lady Capulet describes Paris as a “gentleman” on line 80 in act 1 scene3. This shows she has much respect for him but also using flattering language to soften Juliet’s heart towards him. The contemporary audience would see this conversation very prosaic as arranged marriages were very common in those times.
On the other hand the modern audience would object to what is happening to Juliet as everyone has the right to make their own decision about who to marry but she is being pressurized to get married and also at such young age when the 21st century you have to be atleast 16 to get married with your parents consent.
Act 3 scene 4 is a very short and summarized, the structure shows how these is a very secretive talk between the 3 as they are not relaxed but are agitated and want no one to hear that is why they finish their conversation very quickly. The conversation between lord Capulet, lady Capulet and Paris this private conversation takes place at night time, we know this as lord Capulet explains to Paris that “it’s too late” this shows it’s dark and dark represents mystery and creates wonder in the audiences mind as to why they are talking about wedding arrangements so late in the evening. It also creates suspicion in our mind.
At the start of Act 3 scene 5 Lord Capulet shows concern for his daughter Juliet after Tibult, her cousin’s death. this is shown by his speech ” for still the eyes, which I may call the sea, do ebb and flow with tears.” by this speech we can sense that Juliet is devastated because of her cousin’s death and she is shipwrecked as her eyes are described by her father as full of tears like a “sea” and full of sadness. but there is a sudden change to his attitude when he says ” how will she non?” this is when he is so shocked by her negative response that he cannot believe what he is hearing. As the seconds past lord Capulet becomes even angrier.
This is shown when he reacts to Juliet by saying “hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch.” it clearly states that how Capulet is furious and is threatening Juliet. Showing lord capulet’s anger is a common way of showing that contemporary parents’ views were against their children if they refused the decisions of their parents. The insults lord Capulet throw sat Juliet are mostly of death, disease and sickness. This is overshadowing the incident in the last scene when Juliet does die. It’s like an example of a taster for the conclusion of the play.
In act 3 scene 5 the play Wright conveys capulet’s fury and anger in the word he uses. Lord Capulet seems to use a lot of repetition “how, how, how, how.” using this technique shows disbelief and how speechless lord Capulet is. Being this shocked shows the audience how offended lord Capulet is like he’s about to burst with anger. “how will she none?”, “is she not proud?” these are some of the questions Capulet asks. This indicates that he is confused and in denial of what’s happening. Juliet’s refusal has taken lord Capulet by shock and he will not forgive her.
the insults lord Capulet throws at Juliet harshly are very powerful and imaginative for example when he loses his temper completely he explains that “his fingers itch” this is a sign of physical violence and how he wants to take his anger on her it also shows how uncontrollable he is right now from the way he talks. The way lord Capulet is reacting shows he has never made a decision and someone said no to him so here the disbelief has taken him back and he feels betrayed. The way he talks to Juliet throwing death comments at her foreshadow the ending when from al the frustration Juliet is forced to put herself to sleep for Romeo to get her but her ending does not go to plan and they both die its like inside lord Capulet knew what was happening and also he cursed her. Therefore the curse of her father caught her up and what he wished for while he was furious came to life.
In conclusion this play would be viewed as a tragedy. The ending of this play made me cry to why two innocent lovers have to be so unfortunate and just because of rivalry in the family and the tradition. lord capulet’s attitude towards Juliet not wanting to marry Paris was a horrific shock to the modern audience while the contemporary audience would have been horrified by Juliet’s decision in going against her father’s will and the way she talked to him as the elder were to be respected and she broke that.
The play of “Romeo and Juliet” lacked morality to the contemporary audience as it contained a girl marrying a man not suitable for her in her circumstance without her parents knowing and she committed suicide in the end, and as most people were Christian back then this would be seen as a sin and would shock the audience to think someone would do something like this. However the modern audience would see the morality as she waited to get married before having sex with Romeo therefore she did the right thing, furthermore the audience would feel very disappointed to see their love tore up because of family history. Therefore both audiences would have very different attitudes towards the morality of the play.
I believe on one hand that the love shared by the two main characters were very realistic and still happens in the 21st century. On the other hand the time span of all these events are however unrealistic as it all happened in less than a week. Moreover it showed how everything can happen very quickly and also time passes just le that. I believe that Shakespeare wanted to prove a point by writing this play, he’s aim was to inform us about the social roles in the contemporary times but also to show love doesn’t always have a happy ending. Lastly lord and lady Capulet learned their lesson through the death of their daughter that pressure can have side affects. Furthermore also how lady Capulet was never a good mother as Juliet could not share her feelings with her. This also taught other parents how they should change their behavior towards their children’s love.