Capulet losing it #2 (3.5.157-162)

LADY CAPULET         Fie, fie, what, are you mad?

JULIET                        Good father, I beseech you on my knees,

                        Hear me with patience but to speak a word.

                                    [She kneels down.]

CAPULET        Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!

                        I tell thee what: get thee to church a’Thursday,

                        Or never after look me in the face. (3.5.157-162)

Even Lady Capulet thinks this is going a bit far (although as interventions go it’s pretty half-hearted, and she might in fact be addressing Juliet), but Juliet possibly has a better idea of how to play this: Good father, she begins, kneeling in the expected gesture of filial obedience and respect. She appeals to Capulet’s proud self-image as the good father, the head of the household; she asks him to be patient, to demonstrate magnanimity, self-control, kindness. But he’s gone too far already; he’s lost it completely. Again his language suggests treason – hang thee – and it’s her disobedience, her daring to question him at all, that has angered him most. So he gives her an ultimatum: marry Paris, on Thursday, or I’ll cut you off, I won’t see you, you’ll be dead to me, you’ll no longer be my daughter. And again, the context here that we should remember is his avowed care of her, her youth, her inexperience, when he spoke of her earlier. It’s a devastating turn-around, and clearly shocking to Lady Capulet as well as to Juliet herself.

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