Shakespeare's Characters: The Montagues and the Capulets (Romeo and Juliet)
From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
The Montagues and the Capulets, though important factors in the drama, do not fill up any great space in
the action. Both seem equally animated by the fierce rivalry of the family feud, but the former are in other
respects of a gentler type than the latter. They dearly
love their son, whose exile kills the mother, and whose
death well nigh breaks the father's heart.
to the rancour of public hatred add a harsh repression
of family affection. The father, hasty, tyrannical, and
vindictive when thwarted, seems to have but little love
for his daughter, and is utterly without sympathy with,
or understanding of, her nature. His will must be law
though it crush the heart of his child, and to gratify his
pride he is ready to sell that child to a kinsman of the
Prince. Yet he is not without his good points; he is
jovial and hospitable, and shows a chivalry of feeling
when the son of his hereditary foe comes uninvited to
The mother, if she has something more of
love for her daughter, has no tenderness, and is equally
impatient of opposition. Many years her husband's
junior, she has evidently found but little of wedded
happiness, and her proud heart asks for no reposal of
trustfulness or intercourse of feeling. Her cold temperament is at the same time mixed with a passionate
resentment that is ready to poison Romeo for the death
of her nephew, and she clearly would hesitate at nothing
to gratify revenge or sweep an obstacle from her path.
From neither has Juliet received much guidance, though
plenty of discipline, to neither can she look for help in a
difficulty of the heart or pardon of a transgression into
which that heart has led her.