The audience’s first introduction to the Nurse shows her at her most characterful self. More than once in the exchange with Juliet and Lady Capulet, they both have to tell her to be quiet. Even though Lady Capulet is more senior to her, The Nurse has no qualms with going on and on. She has been a part of the household since Juliet’s birth and is clearly comfortable in her surroundings. Similarly when she goes to Romeo (also her social senior) she doesn’t hesitate to warn him, that is he messes Juliet around he’ll be in big trouble. But when he says he won’t, she is overjoyed at how happy Juliet will be.
The comic nature of the Nurse is something that was taken from the source material, Arthur Brooke’s poem. This is a key part of the play as, without comic relief, the piece would be quite heavy throughout. The humour comes from her inability to filter what she is saying, regardless of who she is in the company of. And also the length she talks at when a simple answer is all that is required (one example being saying Juliet’s age). However, this humour adds to the poignancy at the end of the play: she just wanted Juliet to be happy but has now lost her, as well as losing her own daughter, Susan, at birth, and is about to be punished for her knowledge of the situation. It feels unfair and unjust.
Above all else she seems to care deeply for Juliet, arguably more than anyone else in the play. Initially she helps Juliet and acts as a go-between her and Romeo, to try and enable their relationship to develop. Only when things have got out of hand, and Tybalt has died, does she suggest that Paris might be a good partner, as he is handsome and a good match. She wants Juliet to be happy and, now that Romeo is banished, it seems like the best thing to do. Both Lord and Lady Capulet are selfish in their actions towards their daughter. Even Romeo, in facing Tybalt and killing him for revenge, ignores the impact this will have on him and Juliet, for fear of being emasculated. At every opportunity, it seems that the Nurse has Juliet’s best interests at heart. She openly takes big risks in trying to help Juliet.
Death of her family: “Susan and she - God rest all Christian souls!” “My husband - God be with his soul!” (Act I, Sc iii)
To Juliet: “Were not I thine only nurse,/ I would say thou hast suck’d wisdom from thy teat.”_ (Act I, Sc iii)_
On Juliet asking Romeo’s name: “I know not.(…) His name is Romeo, and a Montague;/ The only son of your great enemy.” (Act I, Sc v)
On Mercutio’s rudeness: “I’ll take him down, an a’ were lustier than he is, and twenty such Jacks.” (Act II, Sc iv)
On acting as messenger for Romeo and Juliet: “I am the drudge and toil in your delight.” (Act II, Sc v)
On Tybalt’s death: “O Tybalt, Tybalt! The best friend I had.” (Act III, Sc ii)
On men: “There’s no trust,/ No faith, no honesty in men; all naught.” (Act III, Sc ii)
Despite killing Tybalt: “I’ll find Romeo/ To comfort you.” (Act III, Sc ii)
To Romeo: “For Juliet’s sake, for her sake, rise and stand.” (Act III, Sc iii)
To Juliet: “I think it best you married with the county.” (Act III, Sc v)
Believing Juliet dead: “Never was seen so black a day as this.” (Act IV, Sc v)