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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES
Act I, Scene 2
Paris, a young nobleman and kinsman of the Prince, asks Lord Capulet for Julietís hand in marriage. At first the father tells Paris that his daughter, at age fourteen, is too young, but later agrees to the marriage if the idea pleases Juliet. He advises Paris to woo her and win her love. Capulet then invites Paris to a feast that he is hosting the same night (the same Sunday that the brawl took place earlier). Juliet, as well as all the Capulet beauties of Verona, will be present.
Capulet then sends his servant off with a list of the guests to invite to the party. The servant goes out to accomplish his task, but he is illiterate and cannot read the list of names. When he sees Romeo and Benvolio, the servant asks them to read the list to him. It includes Rosalineís name; Romeoís supposed lady love. Romeo and Benvolio then find out where the party is to be held and decide to attend since it is a masked affair. Romeo, of course, hopes to see Rosaline there. Benvolio hopes that Romeo will see another beauty, who will take his friendís mind off Rosaline.
In this brief scene, the audience learns more about Juliet, the heroine of the play who has not yet been introduced on the stage. She is young girl of fourteen and obviously Capuletís pride and joy. The father says of Juliet that ďthe earth has swallowed all hopes but she.Ē When Paris asks Capulet for her hand in marriage, he hesitates at first; then he says that he will agree if the idea pleases Juliet. In the thirteenth century, when noble marriages were usually arranged by the family, it is a loving father who wants to please his child. His concern for Juliet is similar to the concern for Romeo revealed by Lady Montague in the first scene. Even though these families hate one another, they dearly love their children.
Paris is introduced for the time in this scene. He is formal and peaceful, following all the rules as he consults Capulet about his interest in marrying Juliet. Unlike Romeoís infatuation with Rosaline, Parisís attraction to Juliet seems low-keyed and practical. His protocol in approaching Juliet with the fatherís permission is in sharp contrast to Romeoís later approach to Juliet, first as a masked party crasher and then as an impassioned lover in the garden.
The role of fate will be very important throughout the play, and fate begins to work in this chapter. The illiterate Capulet servant just happens to see Romeo and Benvolio and asks them to read the list of guests invited to the Capulet feast. If he had not been illiterate and needed the help of a Montague, he never would have spoken to Romeo. If this meeting had not taken place, Romeo would never have known of the party. If Rosalineís name had not been on the guest list, Romeo would have had no interest in attending the party. If it had not been a masked affair, Romeo would never have been able to go into the home of the Capulets. If he had not been at the party, Romeo would not have met Juliet and fallen in love with her. Fate is obviously pulling Romeo and Juliet together.