Maude Fealy as Juliet.
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Angelique Sabrina as Juliet.
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Claire Danes as Juliet.
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Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet.
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Olivia Hussey as Juliet.
Image Source: Hugh Fox III.
[Her name suggests "jewel."]
When Paris asks Capulet for Juliet's hand in marriage, Capulet describes her as "yet a stranger in the world" (1.2.8), not yet fourteen, and at least two years away from being ready to be a bride. Paris says, "Younger than she are happy mothers made" (1.2.12), and Capulet replies, "And too soon marr'd are those so early made" (1.2.13). Then Capulet asks for a little understanding, saying, "The earth hath swallow'd all my hopes but she, / She is the hopeful lady of my earth" (1.2.14-15). In plain terms, Juliet is Capulet's only living child and his heiress, but the phrase "hopeful lady of my earth" also means that she is the hope around which his world turns. Nevertheless, he urges Paris to woo Juliet and says that his approval of any marriage will depend on her consent to the marriage. (Later he will have a drastic change of heart about this issue.) Finally, inviting Paris to a feast that night, Capulet comments that Paris may find that there are other ladies who outshine Juliet. It's hard to tell whether he's just being modest about his daughter or hoping that Paris will find someone else and stop bothering him about Juliet. [Scene Summary]
"Nurse, where's my daughter? call her forth to me" (1.3.1). Thus Lady Capulet opens the scene that immediately follows the one in which Paris asks Capulet for Juliet's hand in marriage. Lady Capulet thinks that Paris is a good catch and is about to urge the marriage upon Juliet, but just then Juliet's nurse interrupts with a long reminiscence about Juliet's weaning and the cute thing that the three-year old Juliet said about falling on her back. Finally, Lady Capulet tells Juliet that Paris wants to marry her, and urges her to look him over and see that he is the husband for her. Juliet says she will, but may express some doubt about whether just looking at Paris is going to make her love him. [Scene Summary]
At Capulet's feast Romeo holds Juliet's hand and wittily flirts with her. He calls her hand a "holy shrine" and offers to kiss it in order to smooth away the rough touch of his hand. Juliet, showing her own wit, tells him that there's nothing wrong with his hand and that he's showing proper devotion by just holding her hand. She adds, For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, / And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss" (1.5.99-100), meaning that it's allowed to touch the hand of a saint, and that the touch of pilgrims' ("palmers'") hands is holy kissing. They continue with this love-game until they have kissed twice. Then the party breaks up, and as Romeo is leaving, Juliet learns that he is a Montague, whereupon she exclaims, "My only love sprung from my only hate! / Too early seen unknown, and known too late! / Prodigious [ominous] birth of love it is to me, / That I must love a loathed enemy" (1.5.138-141). [Scene Summary]
In the Prologue to Act II, the Chorus says Romeo and Juliet are "Alike betwitchèd by the charm of looks, / But to his foe supposed he must complain [of the sweet pain of being in love], / And she steal love's sweet bait from fearful hooks" (2.Prologue.8). However, the Chrous concludes, love provides a way for them to meet. [Scene Summary]
After Capulet's feast Romeo appears by himself and says, "Can I go forward when my heart is here? / Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out." (2.1.1-2). "Here" is Capulet's house, where Juliet is, and the "dull earth" to which Romeo speaks is his own body, which is only stupid dirt without its spiritual "centre" -- Juliet. [Scene Summary]
In Capulet's garden, Romeo sees Juliet come to the window, and says, "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun" (2.2.2-3). In this, the "balcony scene," Juliet confesses her love for Romeo, and then Romeo comes forward to declare his love for her. At first Juliet is afraid that Romeo may just be trying to take advantage of her, but by the end of the scene they have agreed to marry the next day. [Scene Summary]
Romeo comes to Friar Laurence and tells him that he has been feasting with his enemy, and both have been wounded, but they don't hate one another. Friar Laurence objects to all of these riddles, so Romeo says, "Then plainly know my heart's dear love is set / On the fair daughter of rich Capulet" (2.3.57-58). Romeo goes on to explain that they are in love, and want to be married. [Scene Summary]
The Nurse, sent by Juliet to find Romeo and find out what arrangements he has made for the wedding, is mocked by Mercutio and Benvolio. When those two leave, the Nurse says to Romeo, "my young lady bade me inquire you out" (2.4.163). Then she warns Romeo that it would be very ungentlemanly of him to take advantage of Juliet's youth, but when she learns that Romeo is ready to marry Juliet that very afternoon, the Nurse is very happy and starts to babble on about how sweet Juliet is. [Scene Summary]
While the Nurse is gone to talk with Romeo, Juliet impatiently awaits her return. She says, "The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse; / In half an hour she promised to return" (2.5.1-2), but it's already noon. When the Nurse does return, she teases Juliet by delaying the delivery of the joyful news as long as possible. [Scene Summary]
When Juliet comes to Friar Laurence's cell to be married to Romeo, she is running so lightly that her feet hardly touch ground, and the Friar comments, "A lover may bestride [walk upon] the gossamer [floating strands of spider web] / That idles in the wanton summer air, / And yet not fall; so light is vanity" (2.6.18-20). By "vanity" the Friar means earthly joy, which--because it is earthly, not heavenly--is "vain" in the sense it must pass away. Thus we are reminded that Juliet's happiness, which is at its height in this short scene, will be short-lived. [Scene Summary]
When Tybalt challenges Romeo to a fight in the streets of Verona, Romeo declines to fight and says to Tybalt, "I do protest [swear] I never injured thee, / But love thee better than thou canst devise [understand], / Till thou shalt know the reason of my love" (3.1.68-70). Romeo adds that he loves the name "Capulet" as dearly as his own, and asks Tybalt to be satisfied with that. Of course we know Romeo loves the name "Capulet" because he's just married Juliet.
A few minutes later, after Tybalt has given Mercutio his death wound, Romeo is ashamed that he let Tybalt slander him by calling him "villain," but more ashamed that Mercutio is dying because he fought Romeo's fight. Romeo says, "O sweet Juliet, / Thy beauty hath made me effeminate / And in my temper soften'd valour's steel!" (3.1.113-115). Your "temper" is your natural disposition, the combination of all of your qualities; one of these qualities for man is a valor, which should be as hard as steel. Romeo is ashamed that love has softened his valor. [Scene Summary]
The evening of her wedding day, Juliet is at home, longing for the coming of night and her Romeo. She says to the horses of the sun, "Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds, / Towards Phoebus' lodging: such a wagoner / As Phaëthon would whip you to the west, / And bring in cloudy night immediately" (3.2.1-4). She goes on to say how impatient she is for Romeo's arrival, but then the Nurse arrives and cries out, "Ah, well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's dead! / We are undone, lady, we are undone! / Alack the day! he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead!" (3.2.37-39). The Nurse is talking about Tybalt, but at first Juliet thinks she's talking about Romeo. Thinking that Romeo is dead, Juliet expresses the wish to join Romeo in death. Then, when it becomes clear that it's Tybalt who is dead, and that it's Romeo who has killed him, it seems that Juliet's heart turns against Romeo. She exclaims, "O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!" (3.2.73). But this mood doesn't last long. When the Nurse says, "Shame come to Romeo!" (3.2.90), Juliet hotly replies, "Blister'd be thy tongue / For such a wish! he was not born to shame" (3.2.90-91). Shame, she says, would be shamed to sit on Romeo's brow, which is a fit throne for honor. Then she blames herself for saying bad things about him, saying, "O, what a beast was I to chide at him!" (3.2.95). And her greatest grief is that Romeo is banished. The Nurse sympathizes and promises that she will go to Friar Laurence's cell and send Romeo to Juliet. [Scene Summary]
When Romeo learns that he has been sentenced to exile, not death, he goes into a frenzy of despair because "heaven is here, / Where Juliet lives" (3.3.29-30). He is tortured with the thought of being unable to touch Juliet's hand or kiss her lips, and his torture is made worse when the Nurse comes with the news that Juliet is weeping. Romeo jumps to the conclusion that Juliet must blame him for her unhappiness. He asks the Nurse, "how is it with her? / Doth she not think me an old murderer, / Now I have stain'd the childhood of our joy / With blood removed but little from her own?" (3.3.94-96). He feels so guilty for making Juliet unhappy that he tries to stab himself, but Friar Laurence talks him out of his despair and sends him to Juliet. As he is about to go, the Nurse gives him the ring that Juliet has sent as a pledge of her love. [Scene Summary]
Late in the evening of the day of Juliet's marriage to Romeo, Capulet explains to Paris that he hasn't had a chance to speak to Juliet about marrying Paris. Then Capulet adds, "Look you, she loved her kinsman Tybalt dearly" (3.4.3), which seems to suggest that he has some sensitivity about her feelings. But within a few moments he offers Paris Juliet's hand in marriage, saying, "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" (3.4.12-14). A "tender" is an offer; Capulet's offer of Juliet's love is "desperate" in the sense of "bold" because he has made the offer without knowing how Juliet feels about Paris. But the more common meaning of "desperate" is "reckless" or "thoughtless," and it certainly seems that Capulet didn't think before he spoke. However, once Capulet makes the offer he quickly becomes quite sure that he can follow through. He first thinks Juliet will obey him, then has no doubt she will. [Scene Summary]
At dawn, after their first night as husband and wife, Romeo is preparing to leave, but Juliet declares that it's still night, so he can stay. She says, "Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day: / It was the nightingale, and not the lark, / That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear" (3.5.1-3). Romeo offers to stay and die, but Juliet urges him to leave.
The Nurse hurries in with the news that Juliet's mother is coming. Romeo kisses Juliet and leaps out the window. Juliet asks if they will ever see each other again; Romeo is sure they will, but Juliet is full of foreboding.
Lady Capulet enters and finds Juliet weeping. Assuming that Juliet is weeping for Tybalt, Lady Capulet tells her that she's grieving too much, then decides that Juliet must be weeping because revenge has not been taken upon Romeo. Lady Capulet expresses her hatred of Romeo and Juliet appears to agree with her, though we know that Juliet's words express her love for Romeo. Lady Capulet then delivers news which she thinks ought to cheer up Juliet -- she is to be married to Paris. Juliet declares that she will not. Lady Capulet replies that Juliet's father is coming, so Juliet ought to tell him she won't marry Paris, if she dares.
Lady Capulet tells Capulet that Juliet has refused to marry Paris. Enraged, Capulet threatens to throw her out of the house if she doesn't change her mind. Juliet pleads with her mother to intervene, but Lady Capulet refuses.
Juliet asks the Nurse for advice, and she tells Juliet that she ought to marry Paris because Romeo can never come back and Paris is better looking, anyway. Juliet pretends to accept the Nurse's advice but decides she will go to Friar Laurence for his advice. If he can't help her, she will kill herself. [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). Then Paris talks about Capulet's reasons for rushing the wedding; Capulet is doing it for the good of Juliet, who has been spending too much time weeping over the death of Tybalt.
Soon after this, Juliet appears. Paris greets her by saying, "Happily met, my lady and my wife!" (4.1.18). His idea of wooing her is to tell her, over and over again, that she already belongs to him. Juliet has to fend him off without raising any suspicions about the true state of affairs. Thus a dialogue ensues in which Juliet skillfully keeps Paris at arm's length while allowing him to think that she's only being coy.
Juliet manages to get rid of Paris by asking Friar Laurence if he has time to hear her confession. When Paris is out of earshot, Juliet's true emotions erupt. She says to Friar Laurence, "O shut the door! and when thou hast done so, / Come weep with me; past hope, past cure, past help!" (4.1.44-45). Juliet goes on to say that if Friar Laurence can't find a way to prevent the marriage to Paris, she'll kill herself. Then the Friar comes up with the plan for her to take the sleeping potion. Juliet eagerly agrees to the plan and takes leave of Friar Laurence, saying, "Love give me strength! and strength shall help afford. / Farewell, dear father!" (4.1.125-126). She's asking love to give her strength and affirming that the strength of love will give ("afford") her the help she needs to carry out her part of the Friar's plan. [Scene Summary]
Despite the fact that Juliet hasn't agreed to marry Paris, her father proceeds to make the arrangements for her wedding feast, inviting guests, hiring cooks, and grumbling about what a spoiled brat Juliet is. Then Juliet shows up, with her happy face pasted on. The Nurse exclaims, "See where she comes from shrift [confession] with merry look" (4.2.15). Juliet says she has learned to repent for being disobedient to her father, then falls on her knees and says exactly what her father wants to hear: "Pardon, I beseech you! / Henceforward I am ever ruled by you" (4.2.20-21). This makes Capulet so happy that he moves up the date of the wedding to the next morning, but Juliet doesn't seem at all fazed by this change of plans. [Scene Summary]
Juliet pretends to prepare for her wedding to Paris, but she is really preparing to take the sleeping potion which will bring Romeo back to her. Looking at some clothes, she says to the Nurse, "Ay, those attires are best, but, gentle nurse, / I pray thee, leave me to myself to-night" (4.3.1-2). She claims that she needs time alone to pray for her sins. Then her mother comes in and Juliet gets rid of both of them by asking her mother to let the Nurse help her make the preparations for the wedding. Alone, Juliet agonizes over everything that could go wrong, is terrified by visions of the grave, especially a vision of Tybalt rising from death to take revenge upon Romeo, and hurriedly drinks to Romeo. [Scene Summary]
"Hold, take these keys, and fetch more spices, nurse" (4.4.1), says Lady Capulet. So begins the scene in which the Nurse, Lady Capulet, and Capulet bustle about preparing the feast for the wedding of Juliet and Paris. Imaginatively, we are now in the same room where Capulet hosted the feast at which Romeo and Juliet met, but on stage this scene is often played in front of the curtained bed on which Juliet lies. Thus we cannot forget what those on stage do not know--that the wedding they are preparing for will turn into a funeral. At the end of the scene Capulet tells the Nurse, "Go waken Juliet, go and trim her up; / I'll go and chat with Paris: hie, make haste, / Make haste; the bridegroom he is come already: / Make haste, I say" (4.4.25-28). [Scene Summary]
When Juliet's (apparent) death is discovered, almost everyone who sees her says, in one way or another, that she looks as if she is alive (which she is). At first, the Nurse thinks that Juliet is only asleep. She says, "Mistress! what, mistress! Juliet! -- Fast [i.e., fast asleep], I warrant her, she. / Why, lamb! why, lady! fie, you slug-a-bed!" (4.5.1-2), then teases Juliet about what Paris is going to do with her in bed. Juliet doesn't respond, so the Nurse draws the bed-curtains, sees Juliet, and still thinks that she is only asleep, until she tries to wake her.
When Lady Capulet sees her daughter she pleads with Juliet to return to life, saying, "Revive, look up, or I will die with thee!" (4.5.20). Moments later Capulet says of Juliet, "Death lies on her like an untimely frost / Upon the sweetest flower of all the field" (4.5.28-29). And Paris, looking at (what he thinks is) Juliet's beautiful corpse, exclaims, "O love! O life! not life, but love in death!" (4.5.58) [Scene Summary]
In Mantua, Balthasar comes to deliver the news of Juliet's death. Romeo, as soon as he sees Balthasar, asks how Juliet is, "For nothing can be ill, if she be well" (5.1.16). When Balthasar tells him that Juliet is dead, Romeo instantly decides to go to Verona and join her in death. He says to himself, "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night" (5.1.34). [Scene Summary]
When Friar John tells Friar Laurence that he didn't deliver Friar Laurence's letter to Romeo, Friar Laurence sends Friar John to get a crowbar. Then he says to himself, "Now must I to the monument alone; / Within three hours will fair Juliet wake" (5.2.24-25), and he makes plans to be there when Juliet awakes, write again to Romeo in Mantua, and hide Juliet in his cell until Romeo arrives. He hurries away, saying of Juliet, "Poor living corse, closed in a dead man's tomb!" (5.2.30). [Scene Summary]
When Friar Laurence comes to Juliet in the monument of the Capulets, Juliet awakens and says, "O comfortable friar, where is my lord? / I do remember well where I should be, / And there I am. Where is my Romeo?" (5.3.148-150). She calls the Friar "comfortable" because he brought her comfort in her distress. He also promised that Romeo would be there when she awoke, which will be the greatest comfort. Now things have happened as the Friar promised -- he said she would awake in the grave, and there she is -- but she wants Romeo. She does not realize that Romeo is already with her, dead. When she does realize what has happened, Juliet refuses to be parted from her beloved. Alone with Romeo after the Friar is frightened away, Juliet thrusts Romeo's dagger into her breast and is dead less than two minutes after the Friar awoke her from apparent death. [Scene Summary]