Act I – Scene.ii
We are still in the streets of Verona where Capulet is
in conversation with Paris, a kinsman of the Prince. Paris is anxious to marry Capulet’s daughter Juliet, and Capulet favors this union, as it will give his family more power in the city. However, Juliet
is not yet fourteen and Capulet thinks she is too young to get married, and asks Paris to wait two years. He assures Paris that he will be the first suitor and invites him to the masquerade feast he is holding
that night, where he can start his wooing of Juliet.
Capulet entrusts a servant, Peter, to deal with the invitations to the
feast, but he unfortunately cannot read, and taking advantage of this situation, Romeo and Benvolio (Montague’s) obtain invitations to the ball. Benvolio advises Romeo that this will be a good opportunity for
him to compare Rosaline to the other beautiful women of Verona. Romeo only agrees to go because Rosaline herself will be at the ball.
Capulet’s chosen suitor for his young daughter, Juliet,
is introduced to the audience. Paris is a kinsman to the Prince and, therefore, has influence in the city.
The low position of the women of Verona is revealed here. They can be
forced to marry whomever the head of the family chooses. Juliet’s status is almost non-existent and she is a tool to be used by her family in order to further their position in Verona.
However, Capulet is not entirely heartless. This will be a good match
for his daughter and he gives Paris permission to woo her at the forthcoming feast in a hope that he will not have to force his daughter to wed.
In the Prologue, we have learned that Romeo and Juliet battle against the
The first tool of fate is revealed, being parental influence. This,
together with Juliet’s arranged marriage will contribute to our heroes’ deaths. These forces are already in place, even before the two lovers have met.
Although this is a tragedy, Shakespeare provides light relief concerning the
servant Peter who has been given a list of those to be invited to the feast, but he cannot read.
The farce continues when he invites two Montague’s to the party. Just as Juliet has no power because she is a woman, the servant Peter has no power, because he has no education.
Our hero, Romeo, only agrees to go to the feast because he hopes to meet
Rosaline, but the audience know that it will be Juliet that he will see and fall in love with, and the audience now senses that the wheels of fate are in motion.