Act III Scene IV from the play “Romeo and Juliet” written by William Shakespeare and published in 1597 is about the Capulets, Juliet’s parents, making plans for her and the County Paris’ wedding without Juliet’s consent.
Her true love Romeo has previously killed the family’s relative Tybalt and is now being hidden by Friar Laurence and the Nurse in Friar Laurence’s cell. Together they have made a plan on how to keep Romeo alive in order to someday be able to reveal his and Juliet’s secret marriage in front of their hostile families.
But the Capulets hold other plans ready for their daughter as they in the middle of the night meet County Paris in their house and spontaneously arrange for her to marry him later that week (Thursday) of which Lady Capulet is supposed to inform Juliet about afterwards.
It is noticeable that Capulet dominates the conversation. He not only has the longest and most speaking parts but is also the one making the wedding plans such as setting the date when it is suitable for him “Well, Wednesday is too soon, O’ Thursday let it be” (l.19/20) whereas Paris simply approves the suggestions.
However, he endeavors to please his future father-in-law by giving compact answers to his questions along with some flatteries “Monday, my lord” (l. 18), “My lord, I would that Thursday were tomorrow” (l. 29).
This feeling is mutual though as Capulet tries to convince Paris to marry his daughter and therefore wants to present himself and Juliet in particular from their best side by talking to him in a polite manner “I promise you, but for your company, I would have been a-bed an hour ago” (l. 6/7) to which Paris responds with the word play “These times of woe afford no time to woo” (l.8).
By saying that, he is on the one hand expressing his condolences about Tybalt’s death which speaks for him as an empathetic husband and family member. On the other hand he is at the same time implicating that he has already decided on wanting to marry Juliet and that there is no need for Capulet to further woo him.
At this point, the situation changes. Capulet’s hope is awakened, he sees the wedding as a big chance to make his daughter, who seemingly still mourns her cousin’s death “Tonight she is mewed up to her to her heaviness” (l. 11), happy again and arranges it without gathering her opinion first yet expecting total obedience to his word “I think she will be ruled in all respects by me; nay, more, I doubt it not” (l. 14).
Nevertheless, his proposal is very spontaneous and desperate which he is aware of as he makes a compromise with his wife to keep the wedding ceremony rather small “Will you be ready? Do you like this haste? We’ll keep no great ado – a friend or two” (l.22/23). Later on, he realizes how important the day will actually be for his family and increases the number of guests to “some half a dozen friends” (l.27).
His spontaneity foreshadows difficulties regarding the wedding as Capulet did not properly think his actions through although they affect a lot of people including his daughter.
At the beginning of the scene, Capulet’s mood is very sad and worried “Things have fall’n out, sir, so unluckily” (l.1) but enthusiastic and happy in the end “Afore me, it is so late that we may call it early by and by” (l. 34).
Overall the scene has a big relevance for the plot of the entire play as the conflict between her love Romeo and her family for Juliet intensifies. Although her parents have good intentions on the wedding they will receive the exact opposite reaction as Juliet has already married Romeo in secret and therefore is not able to marry Paris.
Ultimately it stresses her father’s dominance and his expectations towards her.
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