Within the story of Romeo and Juliet the parental figures with responsibility over the children are not just the biological parents, however in the time when the play was written, this would have been normal for the rich, upper class families that the Montague’s and Capulet’s were. The parental figures over the two children change as their relationship between the two lovers develops and other events occur within their family lives.
Juliet is the main focus of the changing in parental figures and this may be down to the failing of her by her nurse, at the start of the play the nurse is a vital role in her life, and Shakespeare shows this though Juliet confiding in the nurse. However, this is how the change occurs as we see Juliet feeling as she has been failed by nurse in these secretive chats. However Romeo remains with one strong figure in his life thought the play, Friar Lawrence, and although the outcomes of dramatic events this appears to remain the same thought out.
Juliet and nurse have a strong bond at the beginning of the play, due to the relationship nurse agrees to help Juliet marry Romeo as nurse feels it is what Juliet really wants. However when lady Capulet wants Juliet to marry another man, late on in the play, the nurse advices Juliet to forget about Romeo and this is where the main start of Juliet feeling failed occurs.
Juliet confides in her nurse for advice about Paris’ marriage proposal, but the trust between them breaks down when nurse says ‘I think you are happy in this second match, for it excels your first’ Juliet is angry at nurse for saying this as she wants the nurse to help her continue her love for Romeo. Feeling failed by Nurses lack of help she decides to go to Friar Lawrence for help, breaking her relationship with nurse.
In this situation the Nurse may not have failed Juliet, as she only did what she thought was best for her, however through Juliet’s eyes, the nurse failed her by helping her with Romeo at the start but stopping when the situation developed. Juliet also feels let down by her father as he forces her to marry Paris even though she begs not to, and when she says ‘he shall not make me there a joyful bride’ meaning she will not marry Paris, he reacts angrily saying ‘Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither. accusing her of treason for not wanting to do as her father commands of her. He thinks she should be proud and thankful that he has found her such a worthy husband. He is more concerned with her status, and that of his own, than he is her happiness. Juliet knows that she will get no help from her father in following her heart so she feels forced in to taking the desperate measure of faking her own death. Juliet is clearly let down by her father who should have listened to her and valued her happiness more.
Romoe’s parents echo the relationship in the Capulet household between them and their children, as again their relationship is a distant one. So much so that Montague and Lady Montague don’t know what is wrong with Romeo when he is in depression over his unreturned love for Rosaline. However although they aren’t close to Romeo, he isn’t failed by his parents as there are still there for him ‘Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow, we would as willingly to give cure as know. This is said by Montugue when he is asking Benvolio if he knows what is wrong with Romeo meaning he will put right what is wrong with Romeo if he knows what it is. So Friar Lawrence is a main parental figure though the play for Romeo throughout and for Juliet after her relationship with her nurse breaks down. Friar Lawrence really tries to help the couple. He marries them and helps Juliet develop a plan so that Romeo and Juliet can finally be together.
He sends the ill fated message that never gets to Romeo and it is no failing of his that it does not reach him in time. However, despite all of his good intentions at the last he does fail Juliet, if he had not run away from the guards he may have been able to convince Juiet not to kill herself when she awakes from her drug induced death and finds Romeo dead beside her.
In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet are let down by the parental figures in their lives. From the distant parents who care little for their happiness to the Friar and nurse who despite their love and devotion to the young people are ultimately not there for them when they need them most. Had the parental figures done a better job in supporting this young couple perhaps Romeo and Juliet would not be such a tragic love story.