Lord Capulet argues with Juliet

Act 3 Scene 5 – Key Scene

The scene starts with Lady Capulet telling Juliet that Lord Capulet has arranged her marriage to Paris in four days' time. Juliet refuses to marry and her father threatens to disown her. Juliet begs her mother to help her but she refuses and leaves Juliet with the the Nurse, who also tries to convince her to marry Paris.

You can take a look at the whole scene and watch it in performance here. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time, don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Are they using prose or verse? Who has the most lines? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    Lady Capulet
    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 expects not, nor I looked not for.

    Well, well, you have a considerate Father, Juliet; to try and help you get over your grief at losing Tybalt, he has arranged a surprise day of celebration, which neither you or I expected.

    Madam, in happy time, what day is that?
    Lady Capulet
    Marry, my child, early next Thursday morn,
    The gallant, young and noble gentleman,
    The County Paris, at Saint Peter’s Church,
    Shall happily make thee there a joyful bride.
    Now, by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too,
    He shall not make me there a joyful bride.
    I wonder at this haste, that I must wed
    Ere he that should be husband comes to woo.
    I pray you tell my lord and father, madam,
    I will not marry yet, and, when I do,
    I swear It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,
    Rather than Paris. These are news indeed!
    Lady Capulet
    Here comes your father: tell him so yourself,
    And see how he will take it at your hands.
    Enter CAPULET and NURSE
    When the sun sets, the earth doth drizzle dew,
    But for the sunset of my brother’s son
    It rains downright.
    What, still in tears?
    Evermore show’ring? In one little body
    Thou counterfeits a bark, a sea, a wind,
    For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea,
    Do ebb and flow with tears: How now, wife?
    Have you delivered to her our decree?

    A Small boat.

    An order or command.

    Lady Capulet
    Ay, sir, but she will none, she gives you thanks.
    I would the fool were married to her grave.
    Soft, take me with you, take me with you, wife.
    How, will she none? Doth she not give us thanks?
    Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest,
    Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought
    So worthy a gentleman to be her bridegroom?
    Not proud you have, but thankful that you have:
    Proud can I never be of what I hate,
    But thankful even for hate, that is meant love.

    I’m not proud that you’ve arranged this marriage, but I am thankful for you. I can’t be proud of something I disagree with. But I am thankful that it was done out of love.

    How now? How now? Chop-logic? What is this?
    ‘Proud’ and ‘I thank you’ and ‘I thank you not’,
    And yet ‘not proud’, mistress minion you?
    Thank me no thankings nor proud me no prouds,
    But fettle your fine joints ’gainst Thursday next,
    To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church,
    Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.
    Out, you green-sickness carrion, out, you baggage,
    You tallow-face!

    What do you learn about Capulet and his state of mind from his reaction to Juliet? What do you notice about his speech pattern in his reply?

    False logic, an argument that makes no sense.

    Anemia in young women.

    A person with a pale face.

    Lady Capulet
    Fie, fie, what, are you mad?

    Lady Capulet says a few things to contradict her husband in this scene. Why do you think she doesn’t defend Juliet more? How does she feel in this scene?

    Good father, I beseech you on my knees,
    Hear me with patience but to speak a word.

    This is a clear stage direction to whoever is playing Juliet. In Shakespeare’s time the acting company would work without a director so clues like this would have helped them stage the play. How could you stage this moment?

    Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
    I tell thee what: get thee to church o’Thursday,
    Or never after look me in the face.
    Speak not, reply not, do not answer me:
    My fingers itch.
    Wife, we scarce thought us blest
    That God had lent us but this only child,
    But now I see this one is one too much,
    And that we have a curse in having her.
    Out on her, hilding!

    Get away, you waste of space! Disobedient wretch! I’ll tell you what to do: you will go to the Church on Thursday, or I will never look at you again: Don’t say anything or answer right now. My hands are itching to hit something.

    This is a big change from Capulet in Act 1 Scene 2 where he tells Paris that Juliet’s feelings will form part of his decision. What has changed in Capulet?

    (Text edited for rehearsals by Erica Whyman)
  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud and then watch the actors trying it in different ways, listening to the words. Are there any words or lines that really stand out? What impression do you have of the characters and their emotions in this scene?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version? What about the characters who don’t have much to say? How does it compare to the versions you have seen?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of Romeo and Juliet at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for the scene feel right to you?