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Shakespeare's Characters: The Montagues and the Capulets (Romeo and Juliet)

From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.

The Montagues and the Capulets, though important factors in the drama, do not fill up any great space in the action. Both seem equally animated by the fierce rivalry of the family feud, but the former are in other respects of a gentler type than the latter. They dearly love their son, whose exile kills the mother, and whose death well nigh breaks the father's heart.

The Capulets to the rancour of public hatred add a harsh repression of family affection. The father, hasty, tyrannical, and vindictive when thwarted, seems to have but little love for his daughter, and is utterly without sympathy with, or understanding of, her nature. His will must be law though it crush the heart of his child, and to gratify his pride he is ready to sell that child to a kinsman of the Prince. Yet he is not without his good points; he is jovial and hospitable, and shows a chivalry of feeling when the son of his hereditary foe comes uninvited to his banquet.

The mother, if she has something more of love for her daughter, has no tenderness, and is equally impatient of opposition. Many years her husband's junior, she has evidently found but little of wedded happiness, and her proud heart asks for no reposal of trustfulness or intercourse of feeling. Her cold temperament is at the same time mixed with a passionate resentment that is ready to poison Romeo for the death of her nephew, and she clearly would hesitate at nothing to gratify revenge or sweep an obstacle from her path. From neither has Juliet received much guidance, though plenty of discipline, to neither can she look for help in a difficulty of the heart or pardon of a transgression into which that heart has led her.

For much more on the Montagues and Capulets, please see the Romeo and Juliet explanatory notes at the bottom of each scene.


Related Resources

 Character Pronunciation Guide
 Introduction to Romeo
 Introduction to Juliet
 Introduction to Mercutio
 Introduction to the Nurse
 Introduction to Paris
 Introduction to Friar Laurence

 Romeo and Juliet: The Annotated Play
 Themes in Romeo and Juliet
 Annotated Balcony Scene, Act 2
 Sources for Romeo and Juliet
 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)

 Shakespeare on Fate
 Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet
 Stage History of Romeo and Juliet
 Romeo and Juliet Essay Topics
 Romeo and Juliet: Q & A
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