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How does the father-daughter relationship change over time?

William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet dramatizes universal and timeless themes of love and conflict. It depicts how nationalistic rivalries can destroy human lives. However, the father-daughter relationship in the play is notably different from what would be considered a positive, modern child-parent relationship. At the beginning of the drama, even when trying to demonstrate his love for his child, Juliet's father sees his role as a father as a benevolent but fundamentally dictatorial one. Rather than an open relationship based upon communication and give-and-take, Old Capulet strives to orchestrate his daughter's entire life. This lack of dialogue and assertion of patriarchal authority is one of the reasons that Juliet meets her demise. Had Juliet been able to reveal her marriage to Romeo to her father, she would not have needed to pretend to kill herself to evade marrying Paris.

Thus, by the end of Shakespeare's play, Juliet has seized control of her own future. She meets with tragic consequences not because her father does too little, but too much to dominate the life of his child. From the beginning of the drama, Juliet's father is domineering: he sees his daughter as still a child and tries to prevent her marrying anyone. He says to Paris: "My child is yet a stranger in the world; / She hath not seen the change of fourteen years" (I.2). Yet according to Lady Capulet, her husband married her when she was a child. Lady Capulet states that she was already a wife and mother, when she was Juliet's age. "I was your mother much upon these years / That you are now a maid." (I.3). Capulet married Juliet's mother when she was very young, and given that Juliet's father is called 'Old Capulet' it is unlikely Juliet's parents were in love when they wed. The Capulet's marriage was likely an arranged marriage between a much older man and a younger woman. When Capulet reminisces how long ago it was that he wore a mask like the young men at the party where the lovers meet, Capulet says that it was twenty-five or thirty years ago -- or more (I.5). The Capulets' wide disparity in ages suggests that it is common in Verona for the husband-wife relationship to be an extension of a domineering and controlling father-daughter relationship.

As an old man, Juliet's father is incapable of seeing his daughter as she truly is, and views women only in terms of his own desires. He wishes to protect his daughter as if she is his property and projects his own views of what is right, fitting, and desirable upon the girl. He never asks her who she wants to wed. Instead of inquiring why Juliet is so sad, Capulet makes a marriage contract with Paris because he assumes Juliet is mourning her cousin's death, not Romeo's banishment. Capulet presumes to know his daughter's emotions, rather than asks her about them. "Sir Paris, I will make a desperate tender / of my child's love: I think she will be ruled/in all respects by me; nay, more, I doubt it not" (III.4). Capulet believes a father 'rules' his daughter like a king, rather than has a relationship with her in which she is free to establish her independence. Like Lady Capulet, Juliet is expected to be eternally protected and controlled by a man, and passed from her father to a husband.

Capulet cares more about his authority than his daughter's feelings. He is accustomed to getting his own way and refuses to be disobeyed. Rather than showing compassion when Juliet refuses Paris, her father is outraged and berates her, even though the marriage was supposed to make her happy. Capulet's sense of control and personal honor is more important to him than Juliet's happiness.

But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next,

To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,

or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.

Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!

You tallow-face! (III.5).

Capulet's rant indicates…