March 21, 1994
Romeo and Juliet
The Betrayal of the Adults to Juliet
In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet the adults betray Juliet because they are unable to understand her. Juliet's parents, Capulet and Lady Capulet, fail to understands Juliet's decision not to marry Paris. The Nurse fails Juliet by not supporting Juliet's decision to remain married to Romeo. The final adult to fail Juliet is Friar Lawrence who does not comprehend Juliet and Romeo's love for each other. These misunderstandings cause the adults to betray Juliet.
The first to betray Juliet is her parents, Capulet and Lady Capulet. Capulet decides to marry Juliet to Paris. When Juliet refuses to do so Capulet threatens to disown her. "...you shall not house with me." (III, v, 200) he states. Capulet will only forgive her if she will consent to her father's decision "...I'll give you to my friend./An you be not hang, beg, starve, die in the streets." (III, v, 203-204) His wife, upon hearing Juliet's decision against marrying to Paris, refuses to give Juliet counsel. "Talk not to me, for I'll not speak a word./Do as thou wilt for I have done with thee." (III, v, 214-215) Lady Capulet is angered by Juliet's choice and wishes "I would the fool be married to her grave." (III, v, 145) Juliet's parents betray Juliet by not supporting Juliet's pleas for the marriage to be delayed a year. Capulet and Lady Capulet do not know Juliet is married to Romeo, a fact that may have, yet not likely altered these circumstances. Her parent's betrayal causes Juliet to look for comfort from the Nurse.
The Nurse also fails to support Juliet's choice against marrying Paris. Instead of supporting Juliet the Nurse instead believes "I think it is best you marry the county...For it excels your first (marriage)." (III, v, 230, 236) Juliet feels betrayed by this reply as the Nurse "... dispraise my lord (Romeo) with that same tounge/Which she hath praised him beyond compare/So many thousand times?" (III, v, 249-252) The Nurse's betrayal causes Juliet to go to the Friar with the intent to commit suicide should he be unable to help Juliet - "I'll to the Friar to know his remedy./If all else fails myself have the power to die." (III, v, 254-255)
The Friar is the final adult to betray Juliet. He fails to understand Romeo and Juliet's love for each other. Part of the misunderstanding is brought on by Romeo being quick to forget Rosaline. The Friar believes that Juliet and Romeo's love is temporary and advises Romeo "Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast." (II, iv, 101) The Friar is mistaken. The Friar, when he was down in the tomb with Juliet, who is distressed about Romeo's death, could have saved her life. Instead of staying with Juliet and comforting her when she does not wish to leave "Go, get thee hence, for I will not away." (V, iii, 165) Friar Lawrence betrays her by rushing out of the tomb "Come, go, good Juliet. I dare no longer stay" (V, iii, 164) when he hears the watch coming. Part of this reaction comes from the Friar misunderstanding Juliet and Romeo's love. The other part comes from the Friar's self concern. As a result from Friar Lawrence's betrayal Juliet commits suicide.
The adults betrayed Juliet because they did not see things in the same view as she did. Adults may not always understand children as they see things in different views. Adults have more experience than children. Experience alters their choices in how to act. Shakespeare's creation of the conflict in this play, between Juliet and the adults, demonstrates his understanding the young and olds various views on topics and how this misunderstanding may result in betrayal.