Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Youth

By William Shakespeare

Youth

Act 1, Scene 1
Lord Capulet

LORD CAPULET
What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

LADY CAPULET
A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a
   sword?

                 Enter old Montague and his Wife.

CAPULET
My sword, I say! Old Montague is come
And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

MONTAGUE
Thou villain Capulet!—Hold me not, let me go.

LADY MONTAGUE
Thou shalt not stir a foot to seek a foe.
(1.1.76-82)

Although Lord Montague and Lord Capulet are too old to fight, they want to join the young men in the big brawl on the streets of Verona. Good thing Lady Capulet and Lady Montague hold their husband's back—these guys are way too old to be mixing it up like a couple of heady teenagers.

Act 1, Scene 2
Lord Capulet

CAPULET
But Montague is bound as well as I,
In penalty alike, and 'tis not hard, I think,
For men so old as we to keep the peace.
(1.2.1-3)

Now this is more like it. After being lectured by the Prince of Verona, Lord Capulet comes to his senses and acknowledges that he's too old to be caught up in the long-standing family feud. From here on out, Capulet is pretty peaceful. He even stops Tybalt from beating up Romeo at the Capulet ball (1.5).

CAPULET
But saying o'er what I have said before.
My child is yet a stranger in the world.
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
Let two more summers wither in their pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

PARIS
Younger than she are happy mothers made.

CAPULET
And too soon marred are those so early made. (1.2.7-13)

When Paris asks for thirteen-year-old Juliet's hand in marriage, Capulet responds (pretty sensibly, if you ask us) that she's way too young to be a "bride." (He also talks about Juliet as though she's a piece of fruit that isn't yet "ripe," which is less sensible and more gross.) The conversation gets even creepier when Paris points out that there are twelve-year-olds who are already mothers. Capulet's reply seems to carry on the Juliet = a piece of unripe fruit metaphor because he implies that Juliet would be "marr'd" (bruised, tainted, ruined, etc.) if she married and had kids so young. Uh, yep. That sounds about right.

Act 1, Scene 5
Lord Capulet

LORD CAPULET
Nay, sit, nay, sit, good cousin Capulet,
For you and I are past our dancing days.
How long is 't now since last yourself and I
Were in a mask?

SECOND CAPULET
By 'r lady, thirty years.

CAPULET
What, man, 'tis not so much, 'tis not so much.
(1.5.35-40)

Lord Capulet cannot believe it's been thirty years since his high school graduation. It's like, ne day you're the captain of the football team, and the next day you're middle-aged with a couple of disobedient kids and a lot of hot-headed young men trying to get your family killed.

CAPULET
Welcome, gentlemen. I have seen the day
That I have worn a visor and could tell
A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear,
Such as would please. 'Tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis gone.
(1.5.25-28)

As Lord Capulet entertains his guests at the ball, he muses about his youth, which he apparently spent chasing after the "fair" ladies. Luckily for all of us, he realizes that he's past his prime now, and contents himself with marrying off his 13-year-old daughter.

Act 2, Scene 5
Juliet

JULIET
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day's journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks, many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
(2.5.9-17)

According to Juliet, the older generation (including the "lame" Nurse) is too slow to understand the swift passion of love. It's seems pretty clear that love belongs to the young in Romeo and Juliet—but, come on, isn't this what kids always think? Could Shakespeare really be so naïve?

JULIET
The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse.
In half an hour she promised to return.
Perchance she cannot meet him. That's not so.
O, she is lame! Love's heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams,
Driving back shadows over louring hills.
Therefore do nimble-pinioned doves draw Love,
And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings.
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day's journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks, many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.
(2.5.1-17)

According to Juliet, the older generation (including the "lame" Nurse) is too slow to understand the swift passion of love. It's seems pretty clear that love belongs to the young in Romeo and Juliet.

Act 3, Scene 3
Romeo

ROMEO
Thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel.
Wert thou as young as I, Juliet thy love,
An hour but married, Tybalt murderèd,
Doting like me and like me banishèd,
Then mightst thou speak, then mightst thou tear thy
   hair,
And fall upon the ground, as I do now,
                                              Romeo throws himself down.
Taking the measure of an unmade grave.
(3.3.67-74)

When the Romeo learns from Friar Laurence that he's been banished from Verona, he flips out and accuses Friar Laurence of being too old to understand this passionate situation. According to Romeo, if Friar Laurence were "young" and in the same situation as Romeo, he'd be "tear[ing] out [his] hair." But, again: isn't this what kids always say? (And if they do, does that make it untrue?)

Act 3, Scene 5
Lord Capulet

CAPULET
God's bread, it makes me mad.
Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play,
Alone, in company, still my care hath been
To have her matched. And having now provided
A gentleman of noble parentage,
Of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly ligned,
Stuffed, as they say, with honorable parts,
Proportioned as one's thought would wish a man—
And then to have a wretched puling fool,
A whining mammet, in her fortune's tender,
To answer 'I'll not wed. I cannot love,
I am too young. I pray you, pardon me.'
But, an you will not wed, I'll pardon you!
Graze where you will you shall not house with me
(3.5.187-200)

When Juliet refuses to marry Paris, Lord Capulet flips his lid. He suggests that young Juliet is a whiny ingrate, threatens to throw her out of the house, and then mocks her for pleading that she is "too young" to wed Paris. The funny thing is, when Paris first approached Capulet with a proposal to marry Juliet back in Act 1, Capulet seemed to agree that she was as little young (1.2). We should also point out that, by this point, Juliet is already married to Romeo (secretly) so, she doesn't really think she's too young to be a wife—she just uses it as an excuse not to get hitched to Paris.

CAPULET
An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend;
And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,
For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee,
Nor what is mine shall never do thee good:
Trust to't, bethink you; I'll not be forsworn.
(3.5.192-196)

Think your parents are strict? In Shakespeare's day, children (especially girls) had very little control over their lives. Daughters were expected to be silent, chaste, and obedient, which is why Capulet treats Juliet like a piece of property that he can just throw out onto "the streets" when she doesn't follow his orders.

Act 4, Scene 2
Lord Capulet

CAPULET
How now, my headstrong, where have you been
   gadding?

JULIET
Where I have learned me to repent the sin
Of disobedient opposition
To you and your behests, and am enjoined
By holy Laurence to fall prostrate here                  Kneeling
And beg your pardon. Pardon, I beseech you.
Henceforward I am ever ruled by you.
(4.2.16-23)

Liar, liar, pants on fire: Juliet pretends that she was visiting Friar Laurence so she could confess and "repent" for being such a "disobedient" daughter. Truth? She was off making plans to be with Romeo. Ooh, she is <em>so</em> grounded.