In this play Juliet is the character who experiences the most change. As a thirteen year old at the beginning of the play she soon develops from being a ‘girl’ to a ‘young woman’.
Actresses playing Juliet on stage have difficulties because they have to portray both sides of her character. Juliet’s character develops from being a young obedient and innocent daughter, “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” to being a more mature wife. Shakespeare conveys maturity by her depth of love and descriptions of her feelings towards Romeo.In Act 2 Scene 2 Juliet describes her love “my bounty is as boundless as the sea my love as deep”. This shows maturity because she is committing herself to Romeo by expressing the intense feelings of an adult. It is difficult for actresses to show the contrast between the two sides of Juliet’s character as she rapidly changes from being a care free child to a “star crossed lover”.
In Act 2 Scene 2 where Romeo and Julie meet, she begins by toying with Romeo as a child would but soon becomes involved in the situation and realises the intensity of her feelings and what she would sacrifice for her love. She soon becomes more practical and then realises the complications of their love. She says “I have no joy in this contract tonight, it is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden”. However, after their first meeting she automatically knows that he is the man she will marry and is ready to give up everything for him. She says,”Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet”.She is prepared to give up her family and her title for Romeo. She takes charge and shows Romeo that she is committed to him, “if thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow, By one that I’ll procure to come to thee”.
This is a sign of maturity because she is ensuring her own safety by making him quite reckless because after learning of Romeo’s life and love background she still goes ahead and expresses her love and feelings that she can trust him. This however is a sign of her naivety and childishness. Despite her feelings for Romeo she explains that she will “beseech” him if he does not commit to her and their marriage. Her religion taught her traditions which she has grown up with and feels that it is wrong to carry on seeing Romeo without marrying him.Director’s when portraying both sides of Juliet’s character have to decide how to place her in a way to show that she can be mature and immature at the same time by using expressions and body language. In 1995 when the Royal Shakespeare Company produced Romeo and Juliet, the Soliloquy, in Act 3 Scene 2 had Juliet sitting on a garden swing when beginning this to show her childish manner although her speech expresses emotions that are beyond her age.
“I have bought the mansion of love”. This is her describing how she loves Romeo and has obtained him for herself. Other directors have chosen to place her on a bed to do this speech as it emphases the erotic language used. If she clenches a pillow it shows signs of maturity because her body language is expressing her impatience towards the arrival of Romeo.She also refers to Greek mythology in this soliloquy, “towards Phoebus lodging; such as a waggoner as Phaeton would whip you to the west”.
This shows her desire for time to go faster. Phoebus was the Sun God and his son Phaeton was killed by Zeus for riding his chariot recklessly. He was struck with a thunderbolt.
She expresses the wish for time to go as fast as the thunderbolt so Romeo will get to her quickly.Directors like to show her anxiety in many different ways. They make the actresses clench her pillow as a sign of her impatience. This speech is full of dramatic tragedy.
The audience is aware that the play will not end happily as the words of the prologue echo in their heads, “a pair of star crossed lovers take their life”, the audience knows that they will die which is the greatest irony which runs throughout the whole play. This speech is particularly ironic because it is after the death of Mercutio and Tybalt which Juliet has not been told of. She looks forward to her wedding night but being unaware that it will be the last time she sees Romeo. Although the audience knows that their fate is set.
Juliet refers to death only once in the speech. This is done by Shakespeare to remind you of their inevitable fate. “When I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars and he will make the face of heaven so bright”. Shakespeare uses Celestial imagery to emphasise the way the prologue applies to the play. Celestial imagery is used a lot throughout this play because it reminds the audience of the words of the prologue, “star crossed lovers”.The speech will not resolve happily because in Act 3 Scene 2 it is their wedding night but it is also a lover’s farewell. Her happiness is ruined at the news of Tybalt’s death and this is where her confusion begins, “but wherefore villain, didst thou kill my cousin? That villain cousin would have killed my husband”.
She is unsure of her feelings. She is distressed because of Tybalt’s death but glad that Romeo is still alive. She soon becomes sure of her feelings when she realises that Romeo did not intentionally kill Tybalt but it was merely an act of revenge. In the speech she cannot wait for Romeo to consummate their marriage, “played for a pair of stainless maiden hoods”. Although here she is unsure of this sacrifice she must make, to be with her husband but soon realises her duty to him. When hearing of Tybalt’s death she refers to her virginity again, “I’ll to my wedding bed, And death Romeo not take my maiden head”.
She speaks very dramatically and symbolically when referring to her wedding bed as being a death bed. This again makes the prologue echo in the audiences head.During her speech, despite everything said being dramatically tragic, it is also very romantic. Her allusions to the consummation of her marriage are that it will be a ‘pleasurable’ experience which they will share alone. She relishes this moment with Romeo. “Spread thy close curtain, loves performing night”.
She thinks that night will conceal them cutting them off from the world while they consummate their marriage.Whilst Juliet was growing up under the supervision of her nurse, she has been told dirty jokes and rude comments. In Act 1 Scene 3 the nurse says to Juliet “go girl seek happy nights to happy days”. She also gets the same encouragement from her mother “examine every married lineament”, which suggests that they want her to experience the pleasures of marriage. So she has grown up hearing about these joys. She embellishes the moment by talking about Romeo teaching her the ways of lovers.
“Think true love acted simple modesty” and hoping that she will please him. She begins to become more romantic and poetic toward the end of the soliloquy and uses more sexual imagery. “For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night, whiter than new snow upon a raven’s back”. Also white snow on a Raven’s back is a contrast between black and white. Her knowledge of sex and relationship has been influenced mainly by her nurse.
Juliet uses a lot of contrasts in the speech mainly referring to day and night or light and dark. Although light symbolises purity and goodness she prefers to see him in the dark. She believes that night will conceal them and what they are about to do. She says that she will keep Romeo away from watchful eyes and he will come to her and they will share their moment alone. She is aware that it may be the last time she ever sees him. She refers to how she wishes he would “come thou day in night”. In my opinion this contrast was made because she is hoping that once Romeo has arrived the night will last as long as a day so she can spend time with her husband.
She also explains how she does not want to lose her virginity but wishes to consummate her marriage. She will lose her childishness and become more adult “and learn me how to lose a winning match”. She refers to many different contrasts in this speech which shows that she has not yet decided on what she wants to do and feels confused. However, she is fully aware that she loves Romeo and would do anything for him.In conclusion, I have found that Juliet is the character which has undergone the most change in the play.
Her innocence and child-like behaviour is soon changed when she meets Romeo and she becomes more mature and knowledgeable. She learns how to make important decisions, whether good or bad. This speech is relevant to the outcome of the play because Juliet not knowing her fate makes conscious decisions about her life. Her naivety allows us to see what it is like for a character to not know the events that have just occurred and will occur to merely live in the present time. She only hoped for the best in the future despite audiences knowing that the play will not end happily.