A Tragedy That Did Not Have to Be

Born and bred a British, Shamima, 16, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development.A Prayer for Spring by ZEDZAP>Nick.

Romeo and Juliet is by far one of the most popular classics written by the literary genius William Shakespeare. Enriched in rhythmic verses, memorable phrases and self made words, Romeo and Juliet is a tale of two teenagers of feuding families’ living in 16th century Verona who just happened to fall in love.

As you very well know Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy. A number of misfortunes and rash decisions eventually lead to the tragic death of our young hero and heroine.

There are the very familiar elements of parental domination, misunderstanding and teenage strong-headedness in this story that modern day teenagers can relate to and perhaps, also, learn from.

Juliet’s Mother

Since birth, as custom in rich families, Juliet had been handed over to a maid whom she calls ‘Nurse’. Nurse has the very qualities you would expect to find in a traditional mother. She is loving and kind, makes a fuss over Juliet and shares all of Juliet’s happy and sad moments. Nurse is quite a bubbly and excitable character and we get the impression that Juliet really enjoys her company which is a relief when we become familiar with Juliet’s parents!

Juliet’s mother appears to be quite an impatient character, she is very down-to-business and to-the-point, the people around her, apart from her husband, struggle to keep the pace. Obviously with places to go and people to meet, she bursts into her daughter’s room and bombards her with very delicate issues, disregarding her daughter’s state of mind and emotional reaction.

Lady Capulet is not a criminal. Scale her down and take away all her fineries and you’ll find a very typical mother, good hearted but very naïve and unintentionally inconsiderate. Her desire for her daughter to be ‘successful’ is apparent which is a good thing, only Juliet’s version of success is completely different to that of her mothers (as in most cases) and that is were the problem initially stems.

To understand where Juliet’s mother is coming from you have to understand the time they live in and society in those days. Girls married very early, they married to increase or to level out their fathers wealth and status (thus increasing their own social position as women had no means of establishing themselves in those days) rather than love and as people where strictly religious, to love out of marriage was a great sin.

‘Younger than you, here in Verona, ladies of esteem, are made already mothers, by my count, I was your mother much upon these years that you are now a maid’

Juliet’s mother wishes for Juliet everything that she has, wealth, status, fine clothes, a luxurious house, a comfortable life etc. Seeing as rich women did not work as they had all the money they needed and did not really play a huge part in raising their children (that was the Nurse’s job), they carried out their duties as Mistress of the Mansion and managed the servants and household accounts and more or less lived a lazy life of luxury.

‘So shall you share all that he doth posses, by having him, making yourself no less’

Any good mother would wish her daughter to share the comfortable lifestyle that she is enjoying.

Juliet’s father

Juliet’s father is a rich and successful man; he has a high place in society and full to the brim with pride. Father’s in those days were quite literally the ‘man of the house’, he ordered around his workers and servants, just as he did his wife and his children. Once again, Juliet’s father is not a criminal. He had to be the one who called the shots seeing as women were supposedly inferior (and as evident from Lady Capulet’s attitude, women accepted their position and demanded little) and his children were young.

He also had to be the one who selected a husband for his daughter, as was tradition and seeing as it was sinful for Juliet to get to know and fall in love with a man herself, it was quite obvious that the decision would not be largely hers.

When Paris first proposed the idea of marriage, Juliet’s father was a tad protective and felt his daughter was far too young for marriage:

‘My child is yet a stranger in the word…’

But Paris would not let up and Lord Capulet knew too well that he would have to find a suitable match for his daughter sooner or later. A fitting son-in-law for Lord Capulet would be a young man you could match him in wealth and status, or better still, increase it. That would be enough.

But Lord Capulet had also considered a few more things he felt would be important to his daughter, i.e. looks etc, etc.

‘Her father counts it dangerous that she give her sorrow so much sway and in his wisdom hastes our marriage to stop the inundation of her tears’

…Which goes to show that Lord Capulet’s final decision rest not in his own interests but that of his daughter’s.

Both parents wished the best for their child, the decisions they made were chiefly for her sake. They obviously loved her dearly, especially as she was their only child. What went wrong here was that their actions did not portray their feelings or their intentions for that matter and from young Juliet’s point of view; they were trying to bend her into their way of life and into following their example.

Juliet was of a different mind to her parents and this usually goes for most modern day teenagers. We have new ideas and care little for old traditions.

Juliet, as most teenagers eventually do, took matters into her own hand, without even attempting to consult her parents. Her decision was one that would shake her family to its roots and devastate her parents but at that moment, when there was only one thing that really mattered to her in the whole world, nothing else was significant. I think it would be appropriate to say here, that love had made her blind. If she had only spoken to her parents about her situation maybe, just maybe they would have softened after witnessing just how much Romeo and Juliet cared for each other, and then perhaps the story could have had an all too familiar ‘happily ever after’ ending, married either to Romeo or even Paris (happiness can be found in the most surprising places). She did not stop to think that perhaps, with time, she could learn to love Paris or that in the distant future she could be reunited with her first love, Romeo, she could have eventually decided that love did not matter any longer, and concentrate on establishing herself or raising children.

Juliet was young and had a long life ahead of her, anything could have been possible. But with a single stoke of an unforgiving dagger, the story was brought to a dramatic and heartbreaking end.

‘…For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.’

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