Compare the ways the contrast between two fathers and their daughters are made interesting in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’

‘Romeo and Juliet’ was written in the 16th century by William Shakespeare and ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written nearly 400 years later in the early 20th century by J.B. Priestley. In both of these plays the relationships of fathers, Lord Capulet and Arthur Birling and their daughters, Juliet and Shelia, are portrayed as being a typical father daughter relationship with seemingly very caring but slightly controlling fathers.

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In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Lord Capulet seems to be very caring and considerate towards Juliet when speaking to Paris, a man that Lord Capulet would like Juliet to marry due to his status and financial position. This is shown when Capulet says “hopeful lady of my earth”, this infers Juliet means the world to him, it implies she is as precious to him as he created her and is very proud of her. It also shows that as she is his only child he wants nothing other than the best for her. We can also see that Capulet wants the best for his daughter when he is explaining to Paris how he wants him to “woo her” and to “get her heart”. This shows that Capulet wants Juliet to be in love with the man she is going to marry and wants to get married to him for her own emotional reasons and not just because her father wants her to.

Many girls in the 16th century were forced into marriages they didn’t want to be in; many didn’t have a choice of whom they were going to marry but in Juliet’s case she did have some say which was a very rare occurrence.

At the start of ‘An Inspector Calls’ we believe that Arthur Birling truly loves his daughter and he would do anything for her and support her in many ways. We can see this when he says “Sheila means a tremendous lot to me” over the engagement dinner with Gerald. It is portrayed that he truly has her best interests at heart and only wants the best for her.

Although, as Birling later reveals that he wants Sheila to marry Gerald not only for her benefit but also for his, as Gerald’s father’s business (Crofts Limited) is Birling’s top rival and Birling knows that by his daughter marrying Gerald his business will thrive and exceed its current position. We can see this when Birling says “lower costs and higher prices” Birling is over joyed with Shelia’s choice as he can see the future business potential.

So as we can see at the start of both of these plays both fathers only want the finest for their daughters and are trying to get them to marry into wealthy and well respected families. Change.

The first time we see Juliet and Lord Capulet together is in Act 3, Scene 5, of the play when Juliet is about to tell her father that she doesn’t want to marry Paris. Lord Capulet walks in and witness’ Juliet crying, he thinks he is about to deliver good news which will stop her tears, but as he soon finds out she is crying because she doesn’t want to marry Paris. He is outraged. The audience can see this when Lord Capulet implies he will “drag thee on a hurdle thither” this shows that he is not going to take no for an answer and he is going to make Juliet marry Paris wither she likes it or not.

He also refers to Juliet as a “curse” this proves that he is totally disgusted with Juliet that his own daughter is going against what he is telling her to do, and that all she is doing is bringing bad luck to the Capulet house hold, he is trying to make her feel so awful for not marrying Paris, in order to that she may change her mind.

Even though Lord Capulet liked to give the impression that he was giving Juliet some choices in who she marries when he said to Paris “Within her scope of choice” we later find out that really Juliet had no choice and the decision was made for her.

We thought that Lord Capulet was a kind and caring father but as we now can see he is not the person originally portrayed, when people do not do as he wants he turns into an strong willed man that will try to make them do it whether they like it or not .

In ‘An Inspector calls’ Birling and Sheila’s relationship seems to be very childlike, this is shown when he says “Are you listening, Sheila?” and her reply is “I’m sorry, Daddy”. This shows that even though Sheila is growing up into a woman Birling is still talking to her like she is a child and is refusing to let her grow up.

Birling is also very dismissive of Sheila; we witness this when he says “nothing to do with you, Shelia. Run along”, the way in which he speaks to her is quite belittling and we are made to believe that although she is his daughter, women are second class to men, he truly believes that she is not worthy of being spoken to with regard to the inspectors visit. Birling is a very single minded man who does not take kindly to opposition to his beliefs. This is seen when he says “we’ve had experience – and we know” this shows he is no longer prepared to discuss the topic any further, when discussing war with his son Eric.

Birling has very similar expectations for his daughter as Lord Capulet has for Juliet, they both want their daughters to marry into good families however with a certain degree of control, we know this because Capulet says “within her scope of choice”, he is allowing her a certain degree of choice in whom she marries although it is clear that he would want to have the final say in who she married and therefore her choices are limited.

Juliet clearly feels she is treated like a child too as she has no intention of marrying Paris as she is already in love with Romeo whom is a Montague.

As the inspector questions each of the characters about a woman, Eva Smith (also known as Daisy Renton) who has apparently committed suicide. Each of characters have had some involvement with the young girl and may each of played a part into the her death. It is clear to see that Shelia’s personality goes from one of being immature and talked down to, to strong and mature, she accepts that she may have been partly responsible for the suicide of Eva.

For the first time Birling is shown in his true light and Shelia she sees her father as being very opinionated and stubborn and refusing to accept any responsibility for his part in Eva’s death, as a rich employer to those in society who are not as wealthy, he has a duty of care.

Birling also realises that his hopes and dreams may not become reality
although he still refuses to accept any responsibility with regards to the death Eva, at the end of the play he cracks jokes about whole situation and about the way that possibly they have all been had over, although Shelia and Eric are remorseful, Birling mocks them when they are feeling so awful.

When Capulet finds out his only daughter has taken her own life because she wanted to be with the man she loved, Romeo; not Paris, he seems to learn a lesson from his mistakes, this is shown in the quote “O brother Montague” (Romeo’s father) this conveys that now his actions have led to the death of a family members, Romeo also takes his own life and therefore there have been deaths on both sides which cause him to want to end rivalry between the Capulets and the Montagues. The word “brother” suggests that not only does he now want to take his rivals on as friends he sees them as almost family. This makes the audience feel sad for both families because for them, peace came at a very high price which both have paid but at the same time the audience would feel proud that both families have put their differences aside and came together to support each other.

Ultimately the huge contrast between Lord Capulet and Birling is that although both men strive to be the successful men of their time and are trying to achieve the best for their daughters, Lord Capulet learns from his pushiness into trying to marry off his daughter to better the family name and Birling does not learn, even when someone has died and his daughter feels partly to blame he refuses acknowledge this or any part he himself may have had in the death of Eva Smith, or the feelings of his family.

Juliet was a strong enough person to take matters into her own hands and hatch a plan to marry Romeo. Shelia shows that she is a more sensitive person by feeling guilt in her part of the death of Eva. The comparison of contrast between the two relationships became interesting and apparent when in each play someone died. Lord Capulet reflected on his actions and was able to offer an olive branch to his enemy in the hope that he could become a better person following the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Birling still continued to be the single minded and stubborn man he started off as by not learning or realising that his actions have had consequences for others and
especially his own family.

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