Justice for Juliet
I've received an e-mail from a Shakespeare scholar of the highest caliber, questioning my treatment of Juliet in my recent book,Shakespeare on Love. This scholar, whose judgment is not to be dismissed or taken lightly, suggested that Juliet is much more pious and holy than my book suggests. Here's my response:
My position regarding Juliet is not two-dimensional. She begins as a pious child and is confused and confounded by Romeo's seductive charm. I pay a lot of attention to her immaturity, stressing that she is only a child, and emphasizing her immaturity in relation to the older and manipulative Romeo. Although I agree that she's a victim of parental neglect and abuse, and of Romeo's seduction, she becomes a willing victim by the end of the play and is therefore at least partially culpable for her fate.
Shakespeare does not always paint his female characters as chivalrously as you intimate. Apart from Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth, whom you mention, there are also Regan and Goneril in King Lear and Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. The closest parallel that I see to Juliet's role is that of Ophelia in Hamlet, a character whose fatal flaw is the weakness of her will in the face of unscrupulous manipulation by those she loved.