The Capulets and the Montagues are the two rival families of Verona in William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at the Capulet family tree and learn about Juliet’s half of the family feud.
The House of Capulet
We’re never quite sure exactly why the Capulets and the Montagues are feuding in William Shakespeare’s epic play Romeo and Juliet, but each person in the House of Capulet plays their part as the famous tragedy of the two young lovers unfolds.
Lord and Lady Capulet
Lord Capulet is the patriarch of the Capulet House and father to Juliet.
When we first meet Capulet, he seems like a pretty nice dad who is looking out for the best interest of his child. When his friend Paris asks about marrying the 13-year-old Juliet, Capulet thinks his daughter is too young, so he tells Paris to wait and to maybe even court Juliet so that the two could eventually marry for love instead of business.The nice guy image doesn’t last forever, and soon we get a sense of Capulet’s anger.
When Romeo Montague and his friends crash Capulet’s masked ball, Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is ready to fight Romeo. However, Lord Capulet will have no violence at his party, and he puts Tybalt in his place. We also get a sense here that Capulet is a man to be reckoned with, and one who certainly demands respect.After news spreads that Romeo has killed Tybalt, Paris visits Lord Capulet again inquiring about Juliet’s hand in marriage. This time, Capulet thinks it’s a good idea, because he is ignorant to Juliet’s love affair with Romeo. He also believes that Juliet is crying because of her cousin’s death and thinks that the news of the engagement will cheer her up.
When Juliet tells her father that she does not want to marry Paris, he takes great umbrage with his daughter. He believes that Juliet is disrespecting him and he gets violent. He even threatens to kick her out of the house if she doesn’t obey him.Lord Capulet hastily begins the arrangements for the wedding, and when Juliet is found dead, he mourns the loss of his only child and agrees then and only then to end the feud with the Montagues.Lady Capulet, the matriarch of the family, married Lord Capulet when she was around 12 years old. It’s obvious that she was too young for marriage, and both she and husband seem very aware of that. She is definitely estranged and aloof towards her only child.
Maybe she sees Juliet simply as a product of an unhappy union, not as her loving daughter.Juliet does not confide in her mother. She was raised by the Nurse, and that is the only person whom she feels comfortable with.
However, towards the end of the play there does come a time when Juliet needs her mother. She does not want to marry Paris and hopes that her mother will be able to help her.But Lady Capulet gives Juliet absolutely no support or sympathy. ‘Talk not to me, for I’ll not say a word. Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.
‘ Lady Capulet was raised to obey men and to obey her husband. She wants Juliet to marry Paris even though her daughter would literally rather die.
Juliet is a 13-year-old girl and one of the main characters in the play. It is clear that the only person in the Capulet House that she can confide in is her nurse. When we meet Juliet, she is sweet and naive, not aware of romance or love.
That of course changes the second she meets Romeo Montague, despite the fact that his family and her family are bitter rivals.Juliet is brave. She is literally willing to give up her entire life for Romeo, including her great wealth, her family and her Nurse. Shakespeare makes it quite obvious how girls and boys are treated differently in Verona.
While Juliet sits in her house with no friends around, Romeo is out and about crashing masked balls and calling to his muse. It is that juxtaposition that speaks to the strength of Juliet’s character. Yes, she was raised to be obedient and polite; but she is willing to sacrifice her life for love.
Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin and the nephew of Lord and Lady Capulet. He is a skilled swordsman who is constantly looking for a fight.
He is angry and quick-tempered, and he hates the Montague family perhaps more than any other character in the entire play.It is, in fact, Tybalt’s anger and rage that indirectly leads to the death of the young star-crossed lovers. The angry cousin caught Romeo crashing the Capulet’s masked ball. He was stopped from beating up Romeo at the party by his uncle; however, he vowed to go after him in the future.By the time Tybalt sought revenge, Romeo was already secretly married to Juliet. When Romeo refused to duel with Tybalt, Romeo’s best friend Mercutio began to fight him instead.
Tybalt stabbed Mercutio to death. Romeo was heartbroken, and in retaliation stabbed Tybalt to death.Tybalt’s anger is a narrative link to Romeo and Juliet’s suicides. If he hadn’t lost his temper, then he wouldn’t have killed Mercutio. If he didn’t kill Mercutio, then Romeo would not have killed Tybalt. And if none of that happened, could it be possible that the Montagues and Capulets could have set aside their family rivalry in the name of love?
The Nurse (her real name might be Angelica) is Juliet’s confidant, best friend and maternal figure. It was the Nurse and not her own mother who breastfed Juliet and pretty much raised her every single step of the way.
She lost her own daughter when she was an infant, so she treats Juliet like her family. The Nurse (and Mercutio) provide the laughs for most of the play; both are actually quite crude and a little naughty.Juliet confides in the Nurse about her secret affair with Romeo. The Nurse even betrays Lord and Lady Capulet to help Juliet marry Romeo.
Above all, she just wants Juliet to be happy and is more than willing to play co-conspirator in order to do so.However, things start to rapidly go south after the news spreads that Romeo killed Tybalt. The Nurse changes her tune and tells Juliet to marry Paris and forget about her beloved Romeo.
Juliet sees this as a betrayal. She thinks that the Nurse is no longer on her side. In turn, she shuns the Nurse, and will only confide in Friar Laurence in the future.
Lord and Lady Capulet married when Lady Capulet was very young.
They had one child, Juliet, who only confided in the Nurse who raised her. Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is a hotheaded skilled swordsman who takes the rivalry between the families as personal as anyone in the play.