Act IV – Scene.iv
The nurse lets out a wail on finding the apparently
dead body of Juliet and Lady Capulet and Capulet join her.
Suddenly all the wedding preparations come to an end.
Paris arrives with the Friar and a group of musicians and he joins in with
the mourners. The Friar urges them to make preparations for the funeral.
The musicians are left in limbo with Peter, the Capulet servant, and he asks
them to play a happy tune to ease his sorrowful heart. They refuse. Peter then insults the musicians who respond in kind. The musicians decide to wait for the mourners to return so that they might
get some lunch.
It is at this point that the audience obtains an
understanding of how high the hopes were of the Capulets for their daughter Juliet. She was the means through which their family could gain in influence in the city. These hopes have now been dashed.
They can also see how legitimate Paris’ love for Juliet was.
It was clearly a sincere grief he had over the loss of a loved one.
The scene with Peter and the musicians seems to have little relevance, but
Shakespeare specifically includes it in order for the audience to view these events through the eyes of the lower classes. It suggests that the common people see the noble houses as shallow.
Although the result of the feud is death, and heartbreak, they are meaningless because the deaths result from over-reaction of an over-passionate society. The deaths of the nobility have little effect on the daily lives of the common people. It is clear that the musicians care little about the apparent death of Juliet; they are merely concerned about missing out on a free lunch. Some productions delete this scene with the musicians as they consider that it detracts from the main storyline, but Shakespeare is not just passing comment on the society in Verona, but on the world as a whole then and perhaps even now. Life and love are precious, and must be treated with respect.