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Detailed Summary of Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter Capulet, Lady Capulet, and Paris:
At the end of the previous scene, Friar Laurence promised Romeo that a time would be found to fix everything. In this scene, we find that there will be no such time.

As the scene opens Capulet is 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. What's difficult to discern is Capulet's attitude. Perhaps he's being apologetic to Paris, but he could also be suggesting that Paris lacks sensitivity. Capulet continues:

Look you, she loved her kinsman Tybalt dearly,
And so did I:--Well, we were born to die.
'Tis very late, she'll not come down to-night:
I promise
[assure] you, but for your company,
I would have been a-bed an hour ago     (3.4.3-7)
Capulet's "look you" seems impatient, and his bit of philosophy--"Well, we were born to die"--makes it appear that he is still thinking more about Tybalt than about Paris. Also, his talk about the lateness of the hour looks very much like a suggestion that Paris should leave. Apparently taking the hint, Paris says "These times of woe afford no time to woo. / Madam, good night: commend me to your daughter" (3.4.8-9).

Lady Capulet promises that she will talk to Juliet in the morning and it appears that Paris is headed for the door when Capulet suddenly says, "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 he has no doubt that she will.

Capulet is a hasty man. As soon as he has decided that Juliet will marry Paris he starts making the arrangements. He says, "Wife, go you to her ere you go to bed; / Acquaint her here of my son Paris' love" (3.4.15-16). "Acquaint" means "tell," not "ask," and Capulet uses the words "my son Paris" because he already considers Paris to be his son-in-law. He decides that the wedding is to be on Wednesday, but then asks what day it is; when Paris tells him that it's already Monday, Capulet decides Wednesday is too soon, so he puts it off one day, to Thursday. He also says they'll have a only small wedding party, out of respect for Tybalt's death. Capulet asks Paris how he likes Thursday, and when Paris replies that he wishes Thursday were tomorrow, everything is settled. Capulet tells his wife to get Juliet ready for the wedding, and he goes off to bed.

Capulet's hastiness might be comical if we didn't know what a cruel stroke of fortune it is for Romeo and Juliet.







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