Arguably, Juliet is the most sympathetic character in the play.
But due to her fortitude rather than vulnerability.
As a young woman in a patriarchal society, she could be the biggest victim of the piece. And yet she does not come across that way. She appears passionate and assertive, at points brave, and certainly unwilling to settle for a life she is not happy with.
She also has a level of practicality which Romeo is lacking.
Though she falls wholeheartedly for Romeo, she acknowledges that their feelings are sudden and potentially dangerous. She seems to be driven by her thoughts, first and foremost, rather than just her emotions.
Different relationships within the play, illustrate different sides to Juliet as a character.
With Romeo we see her hopeful and romantic side. It certainly seems that her feelings for him are considered and genuine. We don’t have any reason to doubt that (unlike Romeo, whose previous feelings for Rosaline could show an easily altered mind).
With her parents, Juliet demonstrates her duty-bound nature. Though she does not agree with everything they want for her, she acknowledges that, as her parents, they can advise her. Though she says she doesn’t want to get married, she still agrees to keep an open mind with Paris at the party. Her parents bring about her isolation in their treatment of her, forcing her to go to such extreme lengths to escape.
And then there is the Nurse. She offers Juliet someone to confide in (along with the Friar at points) and__ ultimately seems to care for her.__ She recognises that her feelings for Romeo are genuine and encourages them. Even when she advises Juliet to marry Paris later on, it is only because she does not want her to suffer.
The Nurse acts as a contrast to Lady Capulet, presenting the relationship the audience wish she could have with her mother.
At the start of the play, __Juliet is aware of her place __in society.
While she speaks openly to her parents about her desire not to marry, she is polite and displays a level of obedience, speaking when spoken to.
But her love for Romeo brings about a certain change. She is not willing to bend to the will of her parents, and the more they try to bind her to Paris, the more she pushes back. She displays a clarity of thought and practicality, only matched by Prince Escalus.
The tragedy of her development is that she does not change hugely over the course of the play. She is a mature and intelligent character from the start.
If she were able to make her own decisions, it would probably all turn out alright in the end. The restrictive nature of patriarchal society and the actions of the people around her, are responsible for her demise.
On marriage: “It is an honour that I dream not of.” (Act I, Sc iii)
To Romeo: “Good pilgrim you do wrong your hand too much.” (Act I, Sc v)
On the feud: “Tis but thy name that is my enemy.” (Act II, Sc ii)
On their love: “It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden.” (Act II, Sc ii)
Her love with practicality: “If…thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow…and all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay.” (Act II, Sc ii)
Believing Romeo is dead: “I am not I, if there be such an ‘I’.”_ (Act III, Sc ii)_
“If all else fail, myself have power to die.” (Act III Sc v)
Lord Capulet on Juliet: “The sweetest flower of all the field.” (Act IV, Sc v)
Lady Capulet on Juliet: “But one, poor one, one poor and loving child.” (Act IV, Sc v)
To Friar Laurence after Romeo’s death: “Go, get thee hence, for I will not away.” (Act V, Sc iii)
“I’ll be brief. O happy dagger!/ This is thy sheath, there rust and let me die.” (Act V, Sc iii)