Marry Paris? No way! (3.5.116-125)

JULIET                                    Now by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too,

                                    He shall not make me there a joyful bride.

                                    I wonder at this haste, that I must wed

                                    Ere he that should be husband comes to woo.

                                    I pray you tell my lord and father, madam,

                                    I will not marry yet, and when I do, I swear

                                    It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,

                                    Rather than Paris. These are news indeed!

LADY CAPULET         Here comes your father, tell him so yourself,

                                    And see how he will take it at your hands. (3.5.116-125)

A nice contrast between Lady Capulet’s polite Marry and Juliet’s (comparatively) fiercer by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too, and a disbelieving, even mocking, tone in the repetition of He shall not make me there a joyful bride. Mother, are you out of your mind? And Juliet is smart, even in shock, going straight for the question of propriety (I wonder at this haste; I will not marry yet– because I’m too young) as well as pointing out the sheer absurdity of her marrying a man who has not yet wooed her. (In some productions Paris and Juliet are seen meeting at the ball, but there has been no time since then for them to meet; by any measure, this is precipitate.) And then a dangerous moment, as if she can’t stop herself naming Romeo, in the context of marriage, of being a joyful bride, as a way of underlining the absurdity of marrying Paris and the vehemence of her opposition. (And she names Romeo before she can bring herself to name Paris.) Is there a note of relief in Lady Capulet’s response? she surely knew this wasn’t going to go well. But she also knows that Capulet is as determined and single-minded as his daughter. (In this whole scene, the economy with which complicated family, and marital, dynamics are established is brilliant. The Capulet parents are much more than caricatures and, I hope, much more rewarding roles to play than they might at first appear…)

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