Nurse in Romeo and Juliet

The Nurse brought Juliet up from childhood, breast-feeding her and caring for her like a mother. In the play, Shakespeare presents the Nurse as Juliet's surrogate mother - a maternal figure, who truly loves Juliet, wants her to be happy and will do anything for that happiness. This is illustrated when she keeps Juliet's marriage to Romeo a secret, risking her job and livelihood. The Nurse is kind, loving and wants the best for Juliet.

How is the Nurse like this?EvidenceAnalysis
LovingThe Nurse loves Juliet like a daughter. She has brought her up and breast-fed her when she was a child. Her own daughter, Susan, died and Juliet then became her source of attention and maternal care."Thou wast the prettiest babe that e'er I nursed. An I might live to see thee married once, I have my wish."This shows that the nurse loves Juliet very much, as she is openly saying Juliet was the prettiest baby she had ever nursed and therefore looked after. This highlights the true connection that both the Nurse and Juliet have. The fact that it is the Nurse's wish to see Juliet married illustrates how motherly she is towards Juliet.
TruthfulWhen Romeo is banished and Capulet organises Juliet's marriage to Paris, the Nurse thinks it would be a good match for Juliet. She is honest with Juliet despite Juliet not wanting to hear it."I think you are happy in this second match, for it excels your first."This shows that the Nurse wants the best for Juliet - she really cares for her and wants her to be happy. Therefore, she tries to be optimistic.

Analysing the evidence


Looking at this extract, what does this show about the Nurse's character and how she feels about Juliet?


But first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her in a fool's paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behaviour, as they say; for the gentlewoman is young, and therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing.

  • 'But first let me tell ye' - before the Nurse speaks to Romeo about his marriage, she wants to discover Romeo's intentions - are they true or not? The Nurse begins her speech with a threat. The Nurse is taking the role of a parent, deciding whether Romeo is good enough for Juliet.
  • 'as they say' - the repetition of this phrase highlights how the Nurse is lacking confidence talking to Romeo and is also rambling on. It also shows that the Nurse isn't well educated and is of lower class, as she keeps repeating colloquial phrases.
  • 'truly and very' - these words act as intensifiers - they intensify the meaning of what the Nurse is saying. Shakespeare has used these to show that the Nurse has thought of the different possibilities and outcomes and is concerned for Juliet. She doesn't want Romeo to be a bad choice.