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[His name suggests "captain," a military leader.]
In the first scene, after the brawl between servants of Capulet and servants of Montague has turned into a riot, Capulet appears, saying, "What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!" (1.1.75). However, his wife -- who suggests he has more need for a crutch than a sword -- prevents him from joining the fight.
After Prince Escalus stops the riot, he blames both Capulet and Montague for the troubles, saying, "Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, / By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, / Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets . . . " (1.1.89-91). He then takes Capulet with him for a talking-to. [Scene Summary]
As the second scene opens, Capulet is in the middle of a sentence: "But Montague is bound as well as I, / In penalty alike; and 'tis not hard, I think, / For men so old as we to keep the peace (1.2.1-3). It seems that he has just returned from his conference with Prince Escalus, and he's telling Paris about it. Capulet and Montague have been threatened with the same penalties if they disturb the peace, and Capulet is now trying to convince himself that it shouldn't be too hard for two old men to keep peace with each other. Paris makes a polite, neutral comment, then jumps to what is really on his mind -- Juliet. Paris wants to marry Juliet. Capulet says she's too young, but he urges Paris to woo Juliet because her consent is more important than his. (Later in the play Capulet will change his mind about this.) He also invites Paris to his "old accustom'd feast" (1.2.20), to be held that night. Then he sends his servant to invite other guests to the feast. [Scene Summary]
In the scene in which Lady Capulet encourages Juliet to look upon Paris as her future husband, the nurse interrupts with a long story about Juliet's weaning, in which she says to Lady Capulet "My lord [Capulet] and you were then at Mantua" (1.3.28). Later in the scene Lady Capulet says to Juliet, "By my count, / I was your mother much upon these years / That you are now a maid." (1.3.71-73). By this, it appears that Lady Capulet is now about twenty-six. Capulet is at least forty, so he must have married when he was past twenty-seven and his bride was less than half his age. [Scene Summary]
After supper at Capulet's feast, while the servants are still bustling about, the man of the house appears, followed by his kin and guests. The stage direction says that they come "to the Maskers," which lets us know that Capulet is speaking to Romeo's company when he says, "Welcome, gentlemen! ladies that have their toes / Unplagued with corns will walk a bout with you" (1.5.16-17). To "walk a bout" is to dance a turn, and Capulet is making sure that these strangers in masks feel welcome.
As the dancing begins, Capulet asks a kinsman of his how long it has been since the two of them wore masks and flirted with ladies. The kinsman says it's been thirty years, but Capulet claims that it can't be more than twenty-five. It appears that the kinsman is right, but even if Capulet is right and he wore a mask at a young age -- say fifteen -- he's at least forty years old.
Recognizing Romeo as a Montague, Tybalt gets angry and sends his boy for his sword. Capulet sees the anger on Tybalt's face and asks him, "Why, how now, kinsman! wherefore storm you so?" (1.5.60). Tybalt points to Romeo and tells Capulet that he is a Montague who has "come in spite, / To scorn at our solemnity this night" (1.5.62-63). Capulet tries to get Tybalt to calm down, but Tybalt is stubborn, so Capulet calls him "boy" and orders him to wipe the frown off his face. [Scene Summary]
Shortly after Romeo kills Tybalt, a stage direction says, "Enter Prince, attended; Montague, Capulet, their Wives, and others"(3.1.141, s. d.), but though Lady Capulet cries out for the death of Romeo, Capulet does not speak. [Scene Summary]
Towards the end of the scene in which Juliet learns that Romeo has killed Tybalt, she says that Romeo's banishment is much worse grief than anything else, including the deaths of her mother and father. Then she asks where her mother and father are, and the Nurse says that they are "Weeping and wailing over Tybalt's corse" (3.2.128). The Nurse invites Juliet to join her parents in weeping over Tybalt's corpse, but Juliet says she will weep over Romeo's banishment. [Scene Summary]
Very late in the evening of the day that Romeo kills Tybalt, we see Capulet explaining to Paris that "Things have fall'n out, sir, so unluckily, / That we have had no time to move our daughter" (3.4.1-2). By "move our daughter" Capulet means "urge her to marry," so Capulet is explaining why he doesn't have an answer to Paris' marriage proposal. Capulet also mentions how late it is, and Paris is about to depart when Capulet suddenly promises Paris that Juliet will marry him three days hence. Capulet seems to have no doubt that Juliet will do as she's told. [Scene Summary]
The morning after Juliet's one night of wedded happiness with Romeo, Juliet's mother brings news of Capulet's plan for their daughter. Lady Capulet says, "But now I'll tell thee joyful tidings, girl" (3.5.104). Her news will be that Juliet's father has arranged for her to be married to Paris, and Lady Capulet is so sure that this will make Juliet happy that she says "Well, well, thou hast a careful father, child; / One who, to put thee from thy heaviness, / Hath sorted out a sudden day of joy, / That thou expect'st not nor I look'd not for" (3.5.107-110). Juliet's father is "careful" in the sense that he is full of care and concern for Juliet's welfare and happiness. Because he is "careful," Juliet's father has come up with a way to lift Juliet out of her sadness ("heaviness") and "sorted out" (carefully chosen) a day of joy which is "sudden" because it's both surprising and near at hand. Lady Capulet is quite sure Juliet will like daddy's surprise, but when she delivers the news, she gets a shock. Juliet hates the whole idea and tells her mother to tell her father that she will not marry. However, Lady Capulet is not about to deliver any such message for her daughter. Besides that, it's too late, because Lady Capulet sees her husband approaching. She tells Juliet, "Here comes your father; tell him so yourself, / And see how he will take it at your hands" (3.5.124-125). We know, from seeing him chew out Tybalt, that Capulet is not someone for a young person to mess with, and Lady Capulet is reminding Juliet of that.
When Capulet appears, he is at first full of sympathy for Juliet's tears (which he thinks are being shed for Tybalt), but when he finds out that Juliet is refusing to marry Paris he flies into a rage. He calls Juliet names, threatens to drag her to church, threatens to hit her, threatens to disown her, and feels mightily sorry for himself because she doesn't appreciate what he has done for her. After he storms out, Juliet tries to get some support from her mother, but her mother refuses to talk to her, and then the Nurse advises her to go ahead and marry Paris. At this, Juliet turns hypocrite. She plans to go to Friar Laurence to see if he can help her, but she tells the Nurse to tell Lady Capulet that "I am gone, / Having displeased my father, to Laurence' cell, / To make confession and to be absolved" (3.5.233). [Scene Summary]
When Paris informs Friar Laurence that he wants him to perform the marriage ceremony between himself and Juliet, the Friar tries to raise objections. The first thing we hear him say is "On Thursday, sir? the time is very short" (4.1.1). Paris replies, "My father Capulet will have it so, / And I am nothing slow to slack his haste" (4.1.2-3). Paris uses the word "father" because he already considers Capulet to be his father-in-law, and "I am nothing slow to slack his haste" means "I don't have any reluctance that would make me try to slow down Capulet." Paris is quite happy that Capulet is going to give him his daughter, but the Friar, more concerned with the daughter than the father, comments, "You say you do not know the lady's mind: / Uneven is the course, I like it not" (4.1.4-5). "Uneven is the course" means "this is not the regular way of doing such things." The man is supposed to woo the lady, and propose,then ask her father's permission; Paris has skipped right to the last step. Paris is aware of this, but he talks about the reasons that Juliet's father has for rushing the wedding. Juliet's crying too much, and her father thinks that's dangerous for her, so he has decided to hurry Juliet into marriage in order to stop her tears, "Which, too much minded by herself alone, / May be put from her by society" (4.1.13-14). In other words, it's dangerous for Juliet to spend time by herself crying and thinking about why she is crying, but the solution is simply to get her out into company. Then Paris says, as though explaining what Capulet thinks will naturally explain everything, "Now do you know the reason of this haste" (4.1.15). [Scene Summary]
Capulet threatens to disown Juliet if she doesn't marry Paris. Juliet is reduced to tears, but doesn't agree to the wedding; however, that same day Capulet goes ahead with plans for the wedding. We see him saying to a servant, "So many guests invite as here are writ" (4.2.1), then he sends another servant out to hire cooks. As he's doing all of this he grumbles that Juliet is a spoiled brat, but then she appears, begs her father's pardon, and tells him she will marry Paris. This makes Capulet so happy that he moves the wedding up to the very next day, Wednesday. [Scene Summary]
In the midst of all of the hurried preparations for the wedding feast of Juliet and Paris, in comes Capulet. It's three in the morning, and Paris will come at dawn, which is not far off, so Capulet, who has been up all night, urges everyone to hurry up, and starts giving orders. He says to the Nurse, "Look to the baked meats [pies and pastries], good Angelica: / Spare not for the cost" (4.4.5-6). It's remarkable that he calls the Nurse by her Christian name, Angelica; the last time he spoke to her, he was calling her names such as "mumbling fool." The Nurse teases him, he jokes with his wife, jokes with a servant, then tells the Nurse to waken Juliet while he goes out to greet Paris. Capulet is apparently a very jolly fellow when everyone does exactly as he says. [Scene Summary]
When the Nurse discovers that Juliet is (apparently) dead, she shouts and wails. Lady Capulet comes, sees her daughter, and calls for help. Then Capulet enters, scolding everyone: "For shame, bring Juliet forth; her lord [i.e., Paris] is come" (4.5.22). His wife and the Nurse cry out that Juliet is dead, but for a moment he refuses to believe it, and examines her, only to find that she's cold and stiff. He says, "Death lies on her like an untimely frost / Upon the sweetest flower of all the field" (4.5.28-29), and then he feels himself begin to choke up with grief, saying, "Death, that hath ta'en her hence to make me wail, / Ties up my tongue, and will not let me speak" (4.5.31-32). When Friar Laurence and Paris enter, Capulet tells Paris that Death has become Juliet's bridegroom. Capulet's last words in the scene is "Alack! my child is dead; / And with my child my joys are buried" (4.5.63-64). [Scene Summary]
Capulet and his wife are summoned by a watchman, then hear cries of "Juliet" and "Romeo" in the street as they come to the funeral monument of their family. There they find the bodies of Romeo and Juliet. Capulet exclaims, "O heavens! O wife, look how our daughter bleeds! / This dagger hath mista'en--for, lo, his house / Is empty on the back of Montague,-- / And it mis-sheathed in my daughter's bosom!" (5.3.202-205). This speech doesn't say much about Capulet, but it does explain where Juliet got the dagger to kill herself.
A few minutes later Prince Escalus commands Friar Laurence to tell everything he knows about how Romeo and Juliet died. Friar Laurence complies. He starts by saying that Romeo and Juliet were husband and wife, then explains that they were married the same day Tybalt died, and that Juliet was pining away because of Romeo's banishment, not because of Tybalt's death. Next the Friar says, "You, to remove that siege of grief from her, / Betroth'd and would have married her perforce / To County Paris" (5.3.237-239). The "You" in this sentence must be addressed to Capulet, even though it was Prince Escalus who commanded Friar Laurence to tell his story. It was Capulet who betrothed Juliet to Paris, and the Friar's statement agrees with Lady Capulet's earlier statement to Juliet that "thou hast a careful father, child; / One who, to put thee from thy heaviness, / Hath sorted out a sudden day of joy, / That thou expect'st not nor I look'd not for" (3.5.107-110).
At the very end, out of disaster comes some good. The Prince reproves the heads of the feuding families, saying, "Capulet! Montague! / See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate, / That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love" (5.3.291-293). Heeding him, Capulet offers his hand to Montague, saying, "O brother Montague, give me thy hand: / This is my daughter's jointure, for no more / Can I demand" (5.3.297-298). Normally, a rich man such as Capulet would give away with his daughter a jointure (money, goods, and an inheritance); now all he can offer is his hand in friendship, and it's all he can ask of Montague in return. Montague takes Capulet's hand and promises that he will have a golden statue of Juliet built so that as long as Verona is Verona, "There shall no figure at such rate [value] be set / As that of true and faithful Juliet" (5.3.301-302). Capulet answers, "As rich shall Romeo's by his lady's lie; / Poor sacrifices of our enmity!" (5.3.303-304). [Scene Summary]
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