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    Highlight the views of a number of characters regarding love and marriage in Romeo and Juliet, appreciating the social, historical and cultural influences of the time Essay

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    In this play there are seven main characters: Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Lord and Lady Capulet, Friar Laurence, and the nurse. All of their views on love and marriage are different. Here I’ll be looking at Juliet’s, Mercutio’s, and Lord Capulet’s views in great detail. I choose these characters as their views on love and marriage vary in great detail.

    At first Juliet does not want to marry, she says “It is an honour that I dream not of.” She does not care about wealth or status, just about love. She does not want to marry someone she does not love. She believes that marriage is a holy, sacred thing. Juliet falls in love quite quickly.

    Even though Juliet does not want to marry, she tells her mother she will “look to like, if looking liking more.” In other words, she wants to please her parents and be obedient but she doesn’t really want to. This is because at the time the play is set, daughters had the duty to obey their parents. Juliet says this even after her mother tells her how wealthy Paris is. Her mother uses phrases like, “that in gold clasps locks in the golden story,” to persuade her daughter, yet it does not work, this shows that Juliet is not just interested in his wealth, just whether she likes him or not.

    When Juliet first meets Romeo, they share a sonnet together in Act I scene V from line 93 to 110. Romeo ends up kissing Juliet twice. This shows that Juliet liked him from the start, or she would not have let him kiss her. Juliet falls in love with Romeo very quickly without even knowing his name. Juliet asks her nurse to ask for his name and says, “If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed.” She loves him even after she finds out whom he is, “my only love sprung from my only hate!”

    In Act II scene II Juliet talks about her love for Romeo without knowing Romeo is listening to her, she says things like “be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.” Then she is embarrassed that Romeo heard her talk about love before he did, “else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek for that which tho hast heard me speak to-night,” and traditionally, at that time, the man would say he loved the girl first. It would be the man who courts the girl, and not the other way round.

    At the start of the play, Juliet does not want to marry, yet when she is in love with Romeo, they marry the day after they meet, in Act I scene VI by Friar Laurence. “For by your leaves you shall not stay alone till holy church incorporate two in one.” Romeo and Juliet eloped, which was a scandalous thing to do. It was a secret marriage, which didn’t happen that often back then. They lived in an Italian society, which means that arranged marriages were more the normal thing to do. All this shows that Juliet believes that marriage is a big thing, and is not to be taken lightly.

    When Juliet finds out that Romeo killed her cousin, Tybalt, she at first condemns Romeo, then when she remembers he is her husband, she tells herself off for not honouring him, “for ’tis a throne where honour maybe crowned.” Then later on when she finds out she is going to marry Paris, she tells Friar Laurence she would rather “walk in thievish ways”, and do other things which are even worse instead of marrying Paris while her first husband is still alive. This shows that she believes that marriage is a holy thing, which you can’t mess about with, for instance she can’t have two husbands, if both are alive, just to please her father because it doesn’t follow her beliefs.

    In conclusion, I believe that Juliet believes in love at first sight, she believes in true love and that she does not care about the persons background or family, just about the person. Juliet believes that marriage is holy and sacred and that she should honour her husband, no matter what. This is a typical Roman Catholic viewpoint. Yet it is not a typical viewpoint for at the time, marriages were normally arranged by the father, love was not considered, only the wealth and the family of the man were important.

    Mercutio, compared to Juliet, has a very course view on love; he is only interested in the sexual aspects of love. He mocks Romeo for being gentle, he ridicules the lover and he makes rude, suggestive jokes.

    Mercutio teases Romeo from the start for being a lover. Romeo says “I have a soul of lead so stakes me to the ground I cannot move.” In reply Mercutio tells him, “you are a lover: borrow cupid’s wings.” He jokes about Romeo having tender feelings, “if love be rough with you, be rough with love”, and “prick love for pricking and you beat love down.”

    Mercutio believes that love is just an illusion, an invention, made up in dreams by “Queen Mab”, he says she “gallops night by night through lovers brains, and then they dream of love”. Again Mercutio mocks love by saying that Romeo is already dead: “stabbed with a white wench’s black eye.” Mercutio is rude to women which shows that he is not looking for love, because if he was then he would respect them as Romeo does. Mercutio is rude to Juliet’s nurse, he says that she should “hide her face; for her fan’s the fairer face.” In other words he says that she is ugly.

    In conclusion I think that Mercutio does not respect love for what it is, he just loos towards the sexual aspects of it. He does not mention marriage much, yet I make the assumption that he has the same view on it as he does on love. He likes to mock Romeo for being a lover.

    Lord Capulet has again a different view on things compared to Juliet, his daughter, and Mercutio. He is a very moody, changeable person. In those times people had arranged marriages. At first he thinks Juliet is too young to get married and then later he changes his mind. Juliet is 13 years old yet it was normal for girls to marry at that age, her mother was probably 12 when she got married and had children when she was 13. He does not care if Juliet loves the man or not, and he does not care about the person, just his wealth, appearance and status. To him, money comes first. He arranges the marriage for a wealthy connection for the family.

    In Act I scene II Capulet says his daughter is too young to get married. “My child is yet a stranger in the world, she hath not seen the change of fourteen years.” Yet in Act III scene V, Lady Capulet tells Juliet that she will marry the County Paris. “The County Paris, at Saint Peters church, shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.” Lord and Lady Capulet arranged Juliet’s marriage without her consent. This shows that Lord Capulet does not think love is an important part in a marriage.

    At first he cares a little bit about Juliet loving Paris, “but woo her gentle Paris, get her heart, my will to her consent is but a part,” but he wants an aristocratic, noble man for her, as “she is the hopeful lady of my earth.” In other words he wants a good son in law to inherit his land when he dies.

    Lord Capulet becomes quite moody and angry when Juliet says she does not want to marry Paris, he is more concerned with the fact that he has been looking for a good suitor for a while and has now found one rather than the fact that his daughter does not love the man. His small speech in Act III scene V, lines 177-197 makes this apparent. He has draconian views; he would use force to get his own way, and can’t comprehend why Juliet doesn’t want to marry. He threatens to ostracize her if she doesn’t marry Paris.

    In conclusion I think he does not think much of love and he believes that people do not need to love each other before they marry, it just helps if they do. He believes that marriage is not a holy thing, more of a way to get a wealthy connection for the family. They live in a patriarchal society, a male dominated society. Lord Capulet is a patriarch, he is the head of the house so therefore Juliet has a duty to obey him, he can’t see what is wrong with an arranged marriage.

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