Romeo and Juliet Relationship: Transforming Limitations into Strengths

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Conformity and Rebellion in “Romeo and Juliet”

As children, we are often told to act as we are expected to. In the time period in which the play occurs, the characters are forced to conform to the unbending rules of society, ultimately resulting in their downfall. Whether it is through the lack of support she receives, her family name, or her loneliness, Juliet is faced with constrictions caused by her place as the only daughter of the Capulets’ in this demanding adult world.

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Throughout the play, she is able to overcome these boundaries, creating a strong woman out of the shy girl she was when first introduced. William Shakespeare reveals to readers in his play “Romeo and Juliet” that limitations can make one stronger when they are overcome.

Juliet’s Evolution: From Dependence to Independence

As a result of the hardships she must face without the aid of a supportive family, Juliet is able to become an independent woman who can make decisions for herself when she becomes less reliant on them. Over the course of a mere few days, Juliet’s character develops from a 14-year-old girl to a woman in regard to her independence. As a result of the hardships, she must face without the aid of a supportive family. At the beginning of the play, Juliet is unable to make decisions for herself, as shown in the conversation she has with her mother revealing, “I’ll look to like if looking liking move/ But no deeper will I end art mine eye/ Than your consent gives strength to make [it] fly.” (I.iv.103-105). At this point, Juliet is not interested in the idea of marrying but agrees to consider it when Lady Capulet brings it up.

A Journey Towards Self-assertion: Juliet’s Relationship with Her Family

As a girl who refers to her own mother as ‘madam,’ Juliet does not have much support from those around her but is still characterized as an obedient child who is compliant with the elders of her family. After meeting and falling in love with Romeo, Juliet becomes willing to go against what her family wants for her and even begins questioning their trust. When told by Lord Capulet that she will soon be married to Paris, she replies with, “Proud can I never be of what I hate” (III.v.152). Juliet is placed in a similar situation as in Act, yet she has a completely different response. For the first time, Juliet is outwardly expressive about her disagreement with what Capulet assumes is best for her, showing her newfound ability to make decisions for herself.

Juliet’s Courage: A Test of True Love

After Juliet overcomes the initial limitation of her name by effectively hiding her relationship with a Montague, she displays more bravery than she previously had. When Friar Lawrence comes up with a risky plan to avoid marrying Paris, Juliet mentions the fears that she has, including waking up in the Capulet tomb alone, marrying Paris, and possibly even death. Regardless of her intuition, she takes her life into her own hands and suffers a fate worse than she anticipated. Her willingness to be a part of Friar’s plan if it means being with Romeo shows how she does anything for the ones she loves, even if it means taking big risks with her future.Juliet’s last Act of bravery is her death. Although Romeo had the liberty of being able to choose the way he died, Juliet was forced to die in a much more gruesome way. Even when offered escape by the Friar, she chooses to stay and kill herself with the “…happy dagger…” (V.iii.174). Compared to Romeo’s quick death by using the apothecary’s poison, Juliet’s death using his dagger was much more brave. Like the unicorn from the folklore myth, Juliet, at the end of the play, becomes “…a symbol of power and royalty….” Like a ruler who puts their people first, she puts Romeo above her own life.

Maturity Beyond Her Years

As Juliet becomes less confined within her own family through Romeo, she gains maturity. Juliet goes through several stages, including being a child, being in love, becoming a wife, and becoming a widow in a time span of only a few days. She is initially introduced as a girl who is of marrying age but doesn’t seem to care much or has thought much about marriage, referring to it as “… a [honor] that [she] dream not of…” (I.iii.71). The naiveness she displays and the fact that she doesn’t know what true love is yet is representative of “purity and chastity” like that of the unicorn in the folklore. After meeting Romeo, Juliet is able to experience life outside her own family and, as a result, matures.

She applies her gained wisdom in her encounters with him, knowing the possibility of danger in such a relationship, telling him to “…swear not by the moon, the’ inconstant moon…” (II.ii.114). Although the two are madly in love with each other, Juliet wants to make sure what they have is real. She displays her wisdom by wanting to have as much of a traditional relationship with Romeo as possible. During the balcony scene, she also gives a mature approach to being in love with the son of Montague. She questions the hatred between the two families, saying the only thing between their love is their names. Few characters in the play, especially the younger on, have been able to separate actual hatred towards the opposing side from the need to simply continue an age-old feud, showing her rational thinking. She understands that Romeo’s name does not determine what kind of person he is.

Juliet’s Emergence as an Empowered Individual

Living a life where her parents made her decisions for her, Juliet is able to finally take charge and lead her own life. By the end of the play, Juliet is able to overcome her limitations and turn them into maturity, bravery, and independence. As readers, we view Juliet’s character development as turning the limitations she does not have much control over into strengths that she uses to her advantage.


  1. Shakespeare, William. “Romeo and Juliet.” The Oxford Shakespeare, Oxford University Press, 2008.
  2. Halio, Jay. “Romeo and Juliet: A Guide to the Play.” Greenwood Press, 1998./li
  3. Levenson, Jill L. “Romeo and Juliet: A Modern Perspective.” In Romeo and Juliet: Texts and Contexts, edited by Kiernan Ryan, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1997.
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Romeo and Juliet Relationship: Transforming Limitations into Strengths. (2023, Jun 22). Retrieved from