Tyne Rafaeli as Lady Capulet.
Image Source: Richard Thomas.
Natasha Parry as Lady Capulet.
Image Source: Ms. Sockett's English Courses.
Diane Venora as Lady Capulet.
Image Source: hotflick.net.
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, Lady Capulet prevents him from joining the fight, saying sarcastically, "A crutch, a crutch! why call you for a sword?" (1.1.76). [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 urges Juliet to look Paris over and see that he is the husband for her. She compares Paris to a beautiful book of love, to which Juliet could be the beautiful cover.
In the course of the scene we learn that Lady Capulet was a very young bride. She says to Juliet, "I was your mother much upon these years / That you are now a maid" (1.3.72-73). [Scene Summary]
A stage direction for the scene in which Romeo and Juliet meet at Capulet's feast, says Enter CAPULET, all the GUESTS and GENTLEWOMEN to the Maskers. Presumably, "gentlewomen" would include Lady Capulet, but she has no lines. [Scene Summary]
The Nurse learns from Romeo the time and place that he and Juliet are to be married, but instead of delivering the news to Juliet right away, the Nurse teases her by withholding the information by various excuses. When Juliet eagerly asks what Romeo has said, the Nurse replies, Your love says, like an honest gentleman, / And a courteous, and a kind, and a handsome, / And, I warrant, a virtuous,--Where is your mother?" (2.5.55-57). Of course, Romeo didn't say "Where is your mother"; the Nurse is just teasing Juliet with the idea that her mother might overhear their conversation about marrying a Montague. [Scene Summary]
Soon after Romeo kills Tybalt, Prince Escalus enters, followed by the Montagues and the Capulets. Seeing the body of her nephew, Lady Capulet flies into a paroxysm of grief and rage, crying out, "Tybalt, my cousin! O my brother's child!" (3.1.146), and demanding revenge: "Prince, as thou art true, / For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague" (3.1.148-149). Ignoring Lady Capulet, the Prince gets Benvolio to tell what happened. Benvolio's account is truthful, but Lady Capulet is sure he is lying for Romeo. She can't even believe that Tybalt could have been killed in a fair fight, so she cries out, "Some twenty of them fought in this black strife, / And all those twenty could but kill one life. / I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give; / Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live" (3.1.178-181). [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 that she will weep over Romeo's banishment. [Scene Summary]
The evening of the day that Romeo kills Tybalt, Lady Capulet is present as Capulet explains to Paris that he hasn't had a chance to speak to Juliet about Paris' marriage proposal. Capulet also says that Juliet is mourning for Tybalt and that it's very late. Paris, seeming to take the hint, says "These times of woe afford no time to woo. / Madam, good night: commend me to your daughter" (3.4.8-9). Lady Capulet replies, "I will, and know her mind early to-morrow; / To-night she is mew'd up to her heaviness" (3.4.10-11). This is Lady Capulet's promise that first thing in the morning she will find out how Juliet feels about marrying Paris. Lady Capulet's explanation that Juliet wants to be alone with her grief for Tybalt may be a kind of apology to Paris for not giving him his answer right away. In any case, she apparently approves (though she says nothing) when Capulet suddenly promises Paris that Juliet will marry him three days hence. [Scene Summary]
The morning after Juliet's one night of wedded happiness with Romeo, Lady Capulet finds her daughter weeping. Juliet is weeping because she has just said farewell to Romeo, but Lady Capulet assumes that the tears are for Tybalt and asks, "Evermore weeping for your cousin's death? / What, wilt thou wash him from his grave with tears?" (3.5.69-70). Then begins an exchange about Tybalt and Romeo. Lady Capulet wants to wreak deadly revenge upon Romeo for Tybalt's death. Juliet allows her mother to think that she agrees with her, but Juliet's responses show us how much she loves Romeo. Lady Capulet then comes to her real purpose, saying, "But now I'll tell thee joyful tidings, girl" (3.5.104). Her "joyful tidings" are that Capulet has arranged for Juliet to be married to Paris. Lady Capulet expects Juliet to be happy and grateful, so when Juliet hotly opposes the marriage, Lady Capulet turns against her. When Capulet shows up and asks if she has told Juliet the news, Lady Capulet replies bitterly, "Ay, sir; but she will none, she gives you thanks. / I would the fool were married to her grave!" (3.5.139-140).
Capulet flies into a rage. Lady Capulet, though she shares her husband's attitude towards Juliet, thinks he's lost control of himself and says, "You are too hot" (3.5.175), which only makes him hotter. After Capulet storms out, Juliet, turning to her mother, asks for pity. She pleads, "O, sweet my mother, cast me not away! / Delay this marriage for a month, a week / Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed / In that dim monument where Tybalt lies" (3.5.198-201). Juliet is saying she'd rather die than marry Paris, but her mother doesn't believe it or doesn't care. She says, "Talk not to me, for I'll not speak a word. / Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee" (3.5.203). Then she leaves, too. [Scene Summary]
After threatening to disown Juliet if she doesn't marry Paris, Capulet goes ahead with preparations for Juliet's wedding feast. Lady Capulet is there, too, but doesn't say anything until after Juliet returns from Friar Laurence and tells the lie that she will obey her father in everything. Capulet is so happy that he moves up the wedding a day, from Thursday to Wednesday. Juliet asks the Nurse to help her pick out the clothes and jewelry that she is to wear "to-morrow," which surprises Lady Capulet, who says, "No, not till Thursday; there is time enough" (4.2.36). Capulet answers her by speaking to the Nurse: "Go, nurse, go with her: we'll to church to-morrow" (4.2.37). As Juliet and the Nurse are leaving, Lady Capulet protests to her husband, "We shall be short in our provision, / 'Tis now near night" (4.2.38-39), but Capulet--as always--is quite sure of himself. He tells her to go help Juliet get ready for the wedding, and says he can take care of everything else by himself. [Scene Summary]
Lady Capulet and the Nurse are bustling about, preparing the feast for the wedding of Juliet and Paris, when Lady Capulet thinks of one more thing to be done and says, "Hold, take these keys, and fetch more spices, nurse" (4.4.1). Then Capulet comes in. The Nurse tells Capulet that he should get some rest because he's been up all night. Capulet replies that there have been other times when he has stayed up all night, and Lady Capulet teasingly says, "Ay, you have been a mouse-hunt in your time; / But I will watch you from such watching now" (4.4.11-12). A "mouse-hunt" is a woman-chaser, and Lady Capulet means that chasing women has kept him up all night. But now she's goiing to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't do it again. Capulet takes the teasing well. As his wife and the Nurse hurry off to do their errands, he says "A jealous hood, a jealous hood!" (4.4.13). Literally a "hood" is a hood, a covering for the head, but putting "jealous" and "hood" together has the the same effect as putting together "mad" and "cap" to make "madcap." Capulet is saying that his wife is jealous, but it kind of tickles him. [Scene Summary]
When the Nurse discovers that Juliet is (apparently) dead, she shouts and wails. Lady Capulet comes into see what the noise is all about, sees Juliet, and cries out, "O me, O me! My child, my only life, / Revive, look up, or I will die with thee! / Help, help! Call help" (4.5.19-21). But the help that can restore Juliet to life never comes, and Lady Capulet continues to grieve. [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. When Lady Capulet sees the bodies of Romeo and Juliet she says, "O me! this sight of death is as a bell, / That warns my old age to a sepulchre" (5.3.206-207). It looks like she means that "this sight of death" reminds her that she, too, must die. However, the word "warn," in Shakespeare's time, could mean "to tell someone when it is time to do something." If that is the sense in which Lady Capulet is using the word, then she means that "this sight of death" tells her that it is time for her to die. In either case, it appears that she feels it's not right for the young to be dead while she, who is old, lives on.
Just how old is Lady Capulet? Here she refers to her "old age," but earlier in the play she said to Juliet, "I was your mother much upon these years / That you are now a maid" (1.3.72-73). If that is true, then Lady Capulet is 26 or 27. People probably aged faster in Shakespeare's time than in ours, but even then someone under 30 wouldn't be considered to have reached "old age." (Shakespeare's bride was 26.) Shakespeare probably didn't worry himself about this inconsistency. Perhaps he didn't even notice it, because he was focusing on something more important -- Juliet's youth, which is emphasized by both of Lady Capulet's statements about her own age. [Scene Summary]