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Let’s Explore: the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet

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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’s Nurse. Don’t forget to read his lines out loud so that you can feel what the Nurse is feeling.

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The Nurse is a key figure in Romeo and Juliet. She tells us a lot about Juliet, and she also is a key comic character in the play. So lets explore her role:

  • The Nurse first appears in A1S3 where she has a long speech where she talks of Juliet as a very young girl. We learn how old Juliet is, and some of her characteristics. But the Nurse’s speech add comedy to the scene. She repeats the story of Juliet with the Nurse’s husband two or three times. How do Juliet and her mother react. Read the scene (out loud) in Parts and Cues and then in Highlight Text form to see Juliet and her mother’s reactions.
  • The Nurse’s next important scene  is A2S4.  She has been sent to Romeo to find out if he wants to marry her, after meeting at the ball. The nurse finds out in this scene, but again provides comedy in her reaction to Mercutio’s teasing. Read her lines in Parts and Cues to learn more of her character, and then read the scene again in Highlight Text form.
  • In the next scene (A2S5) the Nurse continues her role as go-between, by reporting back to Juliet what Romeo has said. But she cannot resist teasing Juliet before she gives her the good news. See how the Nurse behaves, and how Juliet reacts by reading the scene in Highlight Text format.
  • In A3S2 the Nurse brings Juliet news that Romeo has killed Tybalt. As in A2S5, she is slow to tell Juliet the news, but why is she so slow to give the news? Read her lines in Parts and Cues format and see what you think.
  • In A3S5, where Romeo and Juliet, newly married,  say goodbye to each other, the Nurse warns Juliet that her mother is coming.  Juliet’s mother and father tell Juliet they want her to marry Paris, and the Nurse gives Juliet her opinion. Read that speech (starting ‘Romeo is banished’)  in Parts and Cues mode to see what the Nurse thinks, and imagine Juliet’s response. Then read the same scene in Highlight text mode from the Nurse’s speech to see Juliet’s reaction.
  • Of course, there are more scenes in which the Nurse appears, both earlier in the play, and later, but you can explore them yourself by viewing the Nurse’s lines in Parts and Cues mode, starting at A1S1 and going through every scene. 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 the Nurse and the emotions she feels in each scene.

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Let’s Explore!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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