Capulet losing it #3 (3.5.163-168)

CAPULET        Speak not, reply not, do not answer me!

                        My fingers itch. Wife, we scarce thought us blest

                        That God had lent us but this only child,

                        But now I see this one is one too much,

                        And that we have a curse in having her.

                        Out on her, hilding! (3.5.163-168)

Capulet’s now threatening Juliet with violence – my fingers itch, because he wants to slap her – and he may shove or hit her, in performance, even as she kneels and pleads before him. He’s beyond being reasoned with, his tendency to repeat himself now making him seem even more adamant and unreasonable (imagine Juliet trying to say something at each of those commas, speak not, reply not, do not answer me). He is, of course, behaving appallingly, yet there is real pain here, not just wounded pride and affronted dignity (and, again, the fear that he might lose face in front of Paris) but also a reminder that the Capulets have lost other children (earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she, he told Paris earlier, ironically when giving reasons why he didn’t want his daughter to marry so young). Now he is wishing that Juliet too were dead, or that she had never been born; she’s a curse, not a blessing. Capulet’s words are self-harming as well as hateful, as he ignores Juliet – who is presumably crying at his feet, even clutching at him – in order to bring his wife into this angry, self-loathing display. He calls his daughter hilding, hussy, his abuse again breaking out into the standard, albeit inappropriate, misogynist tropes of sexuality. Call a disobedient woman a whore and never mind about the logic.


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