Character Analysis Essay on Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet”
Her Parents’ Upbringing
Unconditional love so strong that the two lovers would die for each other. A girl so beautiful she lights up the night sky and a boy so persevering that he has killed in the name of love. It’s easy to guess what piece of media is being described here: the Shakespearean play “Romeo and Juliet”. While it’s easy to see Romeo and Juliet as the standard for “true love,” if one reads between the lines, they would notice that a lot of the events in the play actually stem off from the way Juliet was raised by her parents. Juliet was brought up to be extremely dependent, which leads to her parents perceiving her in a negative way when she shows individuality, and in the end causes her to be rash in her decision to marry Romeo. After they get married, the play turns from a sweet love story to a true tragedy, eventually ending in unnecessary deaths. Juliet is the person around which the entire play rotates, and her parents and upbringing is what drags everything down.
Throughout the entire play, Juliet always depends on doing what other people say, and this has always proven to end bad for her. This is easily spotted at the beginning, when Juliet passively agrees to get married like her parents tell her to. She agrees to love her spouse, but no more than her parents let her to by saying “I’ll look to like if looking liking move/ But no more deep will I endart mine eye/ Than your consent gives strength to make it fly” (1.3.99–101). The key word here is “consent” which shows that she feels that she needs her parents’ consent in order to do such a simple thing as love. While it may seem that she becomes independent later on, she in fact still requires people to tell her what to do: “O, bid me leap… / From off the battlements of yonder tower/ or walk in thievish ways, or bid me lurk/ where serpents are” (4.1.79–81). In this quote, Juliet is talking to Friar Lawrence, begging him to tell her what to do in order to be with Romeo. Although she at least has a goal now, she still requires other people to give her directions since she can’t come up with any ideas herself. This is a key part of Juliet’s personality. Although gradually becoming more independent, her initial dependence on her parents starts causing problems for her halfway through the play.
Juliet is perceived very differently by her family and everyone else in the play, and this is especially evident once she and Romeo fall in love. On her family’s side, everyone seems to see her as an annoying, spoilt child. They get mad easily when she disobeys them, the most prominent instance of this being when she complains about having to get married earlier and her father calls her “young baggage, disobedient wretch” (3.5.160). This shows us why in the start of the play, she was so passive and obedient to her parents: it was because they had essentially trained her to do what they say or they’ll literally disown her. On the other side of the spectrum, Romeo looks at her like she is a goddess. He constantly provides metaphors making her out to be the light against the darkness of the rest of the world, like for example saying “It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/ Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear” (1.3.43–44), and “It [the window] is the east, and Juliet is the sun” (2.2.3). Juliet is absolutely in love with this. She is for once being treated like someone worthy of loving, and this is probably the main reason for why she fell in love with Romeo in the first place.
The most important reason for Juliet and Romeo to stress their marriage so much, and also the main reason for why their love proved to be fatal, was the fact that her parents wanted to marry her off without caring about her feelings. After saying that she feels the marriage is rushed, her father tells her “Get thee to church on Thursday/ or never after look me in the face” (3.5.161–162). This is him telling her completely seriously that he will disown her if she does not comply with his wishes. He quickly follows this up by saying “my fingers itch” (3.5.164), implying he wants to slap her. With a father who treats her like this every time she wants to show individuality, and a mother who always supports what her father says, it is no doubt that Juliet would go to such drastic measures to ensure her freedom with Romeo, who not only is the single person who lets her be herself, but consistently compliments her and makes her feel admired.
In conclusion, this play revolves around the way that Juliet’s parents brought her up. Had they been more tolerant of her, and raised her to do more than just obey them, their sweet daughter would have survived. In fact, she probably wouldn’t even have fallen in love with Romeo, since his romance tactics involve mostly telling her how beautiful she is. If her parents had taught her that she is a worthy individual, a lot of issues could have been avoided, and instead of a tragedy, the audience would be watching a sweet romance story.