OPINION: Juliet Capulet Is a Total Badass
Romeo and Juliet is the greatest tragedy in all of history—a play that has withstood the test of time, yearly high school curriculum revisions, and my best friend almost barfing on stage as Benvolio.
I have fond memories of my high school English teacher getting up on her desk and speaking Romeo and Juliet's lines in different voices. I remember having a huge crush on Mercutio and being very confused by it. I remember feeling like this when my teacher showed us the 1998 Baz Luhrmann adaptation. Some of you might not've felt the same way—
—but I hope that HOWEVER Romeo and Juliet made you feel, you'll hear me out on my next point:
That JULIET CAPULET IS INCREDIBLE. Read through my argument as I impatiently await your opinions in the comments section.
She takes charge of her own ring finger. When Lady Capulet first asks her how she feels about marriage, Juliet goes, 'Excuse me? I have other things to worry about, like being thirteen.' (“It is an honor that I dream not of” [1.3.68].) And when Lady Capulet tells her that Paris is on the market, Juliet shrugs even though he's clearly the hottest piece of eligible ass in Verona.
SHE proposes to ROMEO. I don't know a lot about dating in Elizabethan England, but I've watched enough period dramas to know that a woman didn't just propose holy matrimony—she accepted a parentally-approved man's cheesy sonnets for what they were: cheesy sonnets. Or intimate gestures of courtship, or whatever.
Yet there she is in the balcony scene, weighing the pros and cons of playing hard to get directly to Romeo's face, and then coming right out with it: “If that thy bent of love be honorable, thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow” (2.2.143-4). Okay, Juliet!
She tells Romeo to kindly shut up. When he starts proclaiming his love in a way that makes her uncomfortable ("Lady, by yonder blessèd moon I vow, that tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops—"), she says, "O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circle orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable" (2.2.108-8, 2.2.109-11). In other words,
"I'mma stop you right there. The moon is the most inconsistent object you could've possibly thought of, and if that's the kind of thing you doth swear by, we're gonna have problems." And Romeo's like, okay :(.
She is RATIONAL. When her love for Romeo hits her like a ton of bricks, we can follow her deliberate thought process—whereas Romeo all but says 'forget Rosaline, u r hotter and I will love u for infinity,' Juliet puts on the breaks: "Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, too like the lightning, which doth cease to be ere one can say 'It lightens'" (2.2.116-20).
Translation: I LITERALLY JUST MET YOU. Who's to say this won't end as quickly as lightening disappears after it flashes?
She's dangerously clever. If you want to learn how to lie to someone's face without technically lying, Juliet's your girl. When she finds out that Romeo killed Tybalt, she has this incredible conversation with her mom where everything she says has a double meaning—Lady Capulet thinks Juliet is lamenting Tybalt, when she's actually throwing eye hearts 😍😍😍 at Romeo. Mom hears "And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart" as "no one makes me angrier than Romeo for killing my cousin," but what Juliet really means is that she can't even deal right now because Romeo's been banished (3.5.83).
She actually DOES STUFF. While Romeo mopes on the floor* at the Friar's after he's banished, Juliet makes haste. She's the one who runs to the Friar and asks him to concoct a plan to reunite she and Romeo. She's the one who puts on brave pants and gets cozy with a roomful of skeletons.
*I'm not kidding: Nurse: "Where's my lord?" Friar: "There on the ground, with his own tears made drunk" (3.3.82-3).
I rest my case.
Do you agree? ...to disagree? How does R&J make YOU feel?