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Let’s Explore: Juliet – the young lover

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If you haven’t tried out our  techniques of using ‘Parts and Cues’ and ‘Highlit Text’ to explore a Shakespeare character, then you’ll find it helpful to read the detailed explanation we give for the character Hamlet (click on Let’s Explore Hamlet).

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You can explore any Shakespearean character in a play  published by Players-Shakespeare.com in a similar way. Here we help you explore Juliet, Romeo’s lover.

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Juliet is a young girl, not quite 14, the only daughter of Capulet, the head of one of the leading families in Verona.  At a party given by Capulet, Juliet meets Romeo – a Montague – and they fall in love with each other. The Montagues and the Capulets are enemies, which causes the young lovers more than a little trouble.

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Although Romeo and Juliet are in love with each other, they are very different in character, and those differences are interesting to explore. If you want to explore Romeo you’ll find him at this link: Let’s explore Romeo. Here we’ll explore Juliet. Don’t forget to read her lines out loud so that you can feel what she is feeling.

  • We first meet Juliet in A1S3, in which her mother suggests she might marry Paris, a nobleman. In addition, the Nurse tells us quite a lot about Juliet – how old she is;  how brave she is; how pretty she is. To see  all these lines we suggest you read  the scene in Highlit Text mode.
  • The next scene  where we see Juliet is A1S5 where she meets Romeo at the ball and they fall in love.   Tybalt  – a Capulet – spots that Romeo – a Montague – has come to the Capulet’s party and wants to fight with him, but is prevented by Capulet.   When Romeo and Juliet meet, the scene is very much a dialogue so perhaps it’s best to read the scene in Highlight Text mode.
  • A2S2 is the famous balcony scene. Both Romeo and Juliet have big speeches in this scene, and it is worth exploring both characters’ speeches separately. So here are  Juliet’s lines. Read them, and try and feel what Juliet is expressing through those lines. Then do the same with  Romeo’s lines in Parts and Cues.. What differences in the characters of Romeo and Juliet does this scene reveal?  Personally, I find Juliet far more interesting than Romeo, but do you agree? If so,  why do you think that might be?
  • During the Balcony scene, Juliet promises to send her Nurse the next day, to find out if Romeo wants to marry her. In A2S5, Juliet impatiently waits for Nurse to return from that meeting. When the Nurse finally returns, she teases Juliet by delaying telling her what Romeo has said. Read the scene in Parts and Cues mode to feel what Juliet is feeling, and then the whole scene in Highlight Text to get the  context.
  • A3S2 is Juliet’s biggest scene. It starts with Juliet, newly married  to Romeo, impatiently waiting for night to fall when Romeo will join her. Then the Nurse arrives and tells her that Romeo has killed Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. Juliet has complicated reactions to this news. Read the scene in Parts and Cues mode to explore her feelings, and then perhaps in Highlight Text form.
  • The Balcony scene is mirrored by A3S5, where Romeo and Juliet, newly married and after spending the night together, say goodbye to each other, because Romeo must leave Verona as a punishment for his murder of Tybalt. Explore Juliet’s lines in Parts and Cues mode and then  explore Romeo’s lines. How do the two lovers react differently to the dawn? And then, why don’t you compare the Balcony scene with this one, to see the difference in emotions between lovers meeting, and lovers parting? But this scene continues after Romeo leaves. Juliet’s mother and father come and tell her that they want her to marry Paris. How can she marry another man, when she is already married to Romeo? But how does Juliet deal with this conflict with her parents?
  • To avoid marrying Paris, Friar Lawrence gives Juliet a poison to drink which will make her seem dead, though she isn’t. In A4S3, Juliet has a long speech to summons up the courage to drink the poison. Read it in Parts and Cues mode. What does it tell you about Juliet?If you don’t want to read it, you can watch a video which shows me reading it, below. Don’t expect a wonderful reading – the point is to encourage you to explore the speech.

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(Click on this link to see a list of our videos: Let’s Explore Shakespeare monologues)
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  • Of course, there are more scenes in which Juliet appears, both earlier in the play, and later, but you can explore them yourself by viewing Juliet’s lines in Parts and Cues, starting at A1S1, and selecting all the scenes in the play to see in which scenes he speaks, and what his lines are. Have fun, and don’t forget to read these lines out loud!.

When you read the scenes above, out loud, you may well see things differently from what I’ve outlined above, but  you should come to a clearer view of what you think about Juliet’s character and the emotions he feels in each scene. You might also like to compare Juliet, who you have now explored, with Ophelia, another young girl, in Hamlet.

 

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Let’s Explore!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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