Capulet cannot believe it, and is starting to get angry (3.5.137-145)

CAPULET                                How now, wife,

                                    Have you delivered to her our decree?

LADY CAPULET         Ay, sir, but she will none, she gives you thanks.

                                    I would the fool were married to her grave.

CAPULET                    Soft, take me with you, take me with you, wife.

                                    How, will she none? doth she not give us thanks?

                                    Is she not proud? doth she not count her blest,

                                    Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought

                                    So proud a gentleman to be her bride? (3.5.137-145)

The paternal expansiveness continues: how now, wife, have you told Juliet what’s going to happen? (Perhaps he thinks Lady Capulet hasn’t done as she was told, given that Juliet’s still so upset; surely if she’d heard the Excellent Plan to Marry Paris she’d be cheering up already?) Our decree could mean, our joint decree, or it could be more expansiveness, a quasi-royal plural. But if Juliet’s uncontrollable weeping wasn’t enough, Lady Capulet delivers the iciest of cold showers, shortly, tartly, cruelly: Juliet says no thank you, and I wish she were dead. This is horrible; it disappears into the rest of the scene because Capulet is about to be horrible more violently and at far greater length, but we shouldn’t overlook it: all Lady Capulet seems to care about is Tybalt, and revenge, and family honour; she thought marrying Paris at this point was a fairly stupid idea, but she was prepared to go along with it because after all it is an advantageous match and she was all for it a couple of days ago. Now she’s washing her hands, neither taking Juliet’s part nor trying to persuade her. Capulet can’t believe it, because he had to convince himself, before even persuading Paris, that this was the only possible course of action; in his mind, the wedding is an absolute certainty, and entirely logical. The take me with you, take me with you beautifully establishes that disbelief, like a needle scratching on vinyl in the middle of the track (and Capulet has certainly been singing a self-satisfied song to himself, with his wedding planning and his maritime metaphor). But now he starts to wind himself up, with that series of rhetorical questions. Will she none? genuine disbelief. Doth she not give us thanks? surely she’s grateful. Is she not proud? surely she appreciates the honour of this, that she’s a very lucky girl. Doth she not count her blest, unworthy as she is– and here the note of anger starts to take over – that we’ve sorted such a brilliant husband for her, in these circumstances? He’s setting up a list of charges against Juliet – here are all the things she has to be grateful for – and that perceived filial ingratitude, that sense that Capulet is being mocked, is having his paternal care thrown back in his face, his self-image as the concerned father destroyed, will make him more and more violently intemperate – and intemperately violent – as the scene continues. It’s going to get nasty.

View 2 comments on “Capulet cannot believe it, and is starting to get angry (3.5.137-145)

  1. This obviously goes in to far more detail than is meeded for my GCSE spec however I have never respected Shakespear this much. To see analysis of this level really just shows how intelligent of a man shakespear was. Really good analysis done in a simple way.

    1. Hi Damo

      Obviously I think that Shakespeare’s *great* (I may be biased…) but I’m so pleased that you find this interesting and useful! Shakespeare’s for life, not just GCSE (but good luck with your GCSEs too!) I really appreciate you getting in touch.

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