- The Nurse is bawdy, vulgar and garrulous; she has only four teeth left; she sounds like an old witch and can be insensitive and immoral; her husband and daughter, Susan, are dead
- The Nurse remembers them both with simple piety. (She has simplistic faith in god.)
- She was hired by Juliet’s family 14 years ago as a wet nurse for Juliet, perhaps so that Juliet’s mother did not have to breast feed.
- She remembers weaning Juliet when she was three years old.
- Because she is illiterate, the Nurse remembers events in terms of the time of year.
- She remembers the bitter tasting wormwood on her nipple, which Juliet found repulsive.
- The nurse repeats a tale told by her husband. It reveals the nurse’s bawdy and simplistic outlook.
- Juliet fell (forward) and bruised her forehead. The nurse’s husband took up the child and comforted her with crude wit. He said she would do better when she cam of age, to fall not forward but backward.
- Juliet naively recalls the tale; the nurse says four times: “it stinted and sayd Ay”. Juliet’s youthful innocence is offset by the nurse’s earthiness.
There is a deep mutual fondness between them.
- Woman falling on their backs has sexual overtones; it is prophetic because Paris has just asked for Juliet’s hand in marriage.
- The Nurse is her counsellor and her guide; the Nurse is Juliet’s confidante and has raised her from a young girl. She can be vulgar and funny and often says outrageous things. She is a message-carrier for the lovers.
- She understands love in literal and physical terms. She cannot understand the depth of lovers’ emotions.
- She says exactly what she thinks whether or not it is appropriate. When Romeo is a stranger who asks the Nurse who Juliet is, she replies: “I tell you, the man who can marry her will have a lot of money.” (1, v, 118)
- She enjoys plotting Juliet’s marriage but does not take responsibility for her actions. She encourages her to go to Friar Lawrence and organizes a way to help the lovers meet. “I have to get a ladder by which your love can climb to your room when it’s dark.”
- She often offends Juliet. When Romeo is banished, she tells her to marry Paris. She says that “Romeo is a dishrag compared with him”. “He’s better than Romeo”, especially now that Juliet’s first husband is dead. Juliet sarcastically tells the nurse, “You’ve really comforted me.” She loses her trust in the nurse and calls her a “wicked devil”. Juliet is abandoned by her nurse when she needs her the most. – needs to act alone: – tragic heroine – My dismal scene I needs must act alone.” (iv 3. 19)
- Return to Romeo and Juliet