Summary and Analysis
Act III: Scene 4
Late on Monday evening, Capulet and Paris discuss how Juliet's grief over Tybalt's death has prevented Paris from continuing his courtship of Juliet. Suddenly, as Paris prepares to leave, Capulet offers him Juliet's hand in marriage. He tells Paris that Juliet will obey his patriarchal wishes and marry Paris on Thursday. Paris eagerly agrees to the arrangements, and Lady Capulet is sent to convey the news to Juliet.
The clash between parents and children, youth and old age, is further explored in this scene when Juliet's father suddenly decides that she should marry Paris as soon as possible. Whereas Friar Laurence tried to use the wisdom of his years to encourage the young, impetuous Romeo to have patience and bide his time until he could claim his bride, here Juliet's father makes rash plans for his daughter's future.
Capulet's impulsive decision to hasten Juliet's wedding day precipitates the Friar's plot to have Juliet fake her own death to avoid the marriage. Capulet's repeated references to specific days and times create an oppressive sense of urgency as events rush towards their tragic conclusion. He reasons that since it is Monday night, Wednesday would be too soon due to Tybalt's death; therefore, Thursday would be an appropriate time for a wedding.
Capulet's confidence that Juliet will obey his will and consent to marry Paris contrasts sharply with his demeanor in Act I, Scene 2. At the masquerade ball, he told Paris he would agree to the match only if Juliet agreed. Now his assurances to Paris about his dutiful daughter's compliance are dramatically ironic because Juliet has already defied her father's authority, having married Romeo earlier that day. Indeed, the older generation is distinctly out of touch as Juliet is upstairs consummating her marriage to Romeo even as Capulet offers her hand to Paris.
Although Capulet's sudden change of heart appears arbitrary — he doesn't explain why the wedding must take place so quickly — the decision reflects his imperious and impetuous nature, which has undoubtedly kept the feud well-fueled. His language also suggests a shift from parental concern for his daughter's emotional maturity to consideration for her material comfort and social status.
Capulet, like his wife, is anxious to have his daughter marry successfully. In this scene, he conspicuously addresses Paris using a series of titles that indicate Paris' social superiority, "Sir Paris," "noble earl," and "My lord." Paris is a relative of the Prince, and as Capulet's son-in-law, would bring Capulet's family increased wealth and status. Capulet would never be able to understand, let alone agree to, a marriage for Juliet based solely on love.
mew'd up a mew is a cage for molting hawks. Juliet has shut herself away to grieve.
desperate tender bold offer.
mark you me take notice of what I say; pay attention.
soft hush! Wait a moment!
Ha! ha! Capulet is reflecting on the plans he is making; he is not laughing.
ado fuss; trouble; excitement.
held him carelessly thought little of him, neglected his memory.
by and by soon.