Enter Capulet, with some extended metaphors… (3.5.126-137)

Enter CAPULET and Nurse.

CAPULET        When the sun sets, the earth doth drizzle dew,

                        But for the sunset of my brother’s son

                        It rains downright.

                        How now, a conduit, girl? What, still in tears?

                        Evermore show’ring? In one little body

                        Thou counterfeits a bark, a sea, a wind:

                        For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea,

                        Do ebb and flow with tears; the bark thy body is,

                        Sailing in this salt flood; the winds, thy sighs,

                        Who, raging with thy tears and they with them,

                        Without a sudden calm, will overset

                        Thy tempest-tossèd body. (3.5.126-137)

Capulet is in an expansive mood (compare the beginning of the ball scene) and he’s been working on a lovely extended metaphor. He’s minded to be sympathetic when he enters Juliet’s chamber (if that’s where this scene is set; it doesn’t matter much) and sees her in floods of tears (note to the actor; keep crying). We might note in passing that he’s not very good at this, with his sun/son word-play; this is entry-level stuff in comparison to the flights of fancy of the lovers and Mercutio, and in any case, it’s not sunset, but early in the morning. Fail. Juliet is crying so hard that her father compares her to a conduit, a public water fountain, too. And then another go at an extended metaphor: Juliet is like a ship, and the sea, and the wind, the sea suggesting the volume of her tears, the bark suggesting the way in which her entire body has been overcome by her weeping, like a ship in a storm, and by the violence of her sighs. It’s quite an affectionate picture: oh, poor little Juliet, her body wracked with sobs, dissolving into tears. Just as Capulet enjoyed playing the expansive host, so here he is enjoying being the tenderly concerned father; we might imagine a handkerchief proffered, or even the beginnings of a mopping up action, as one might console a child (although there is also a creeping note of, come on, calm down, calm down). But of course, he thinks she’s still weeping for Tybalt…

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