The Nurse

The Nurse is a vulgar, comical character

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, one of the truly comical characters is Juliet’s Nurse. Note that ‘nurse’ in this context means a full-time babysitter. After losing her own daughter, the Nurse breast-fed Juliet since noblewomen traditionally did not breast-feed their own babies. Instead, ordinary but respectable women were hired to do the job.

We first meet the Nurse in Act 1, Scene 3 where she goes on and on about a sexual joke her late husband made at baby Juliet’s expense (1.3.34-40). She talks away and laughs at her own dirty jokes which makes her appear silly and rather vulgar in contrast to Juliet and Lady Capulet. They both had a noblewoman’s upbringing and seem embarrassed at the Nurse’s talk. Generally, the Nurse seems to think that love and sex are the same thing. This will later provide a clear contrast to Julie...

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