"All Shakespeare's women, being women, either love or have loved, or are capable of loving; but Juliet is love itself." Anna Jameson's remark in 1832 sets the tone for the nineteenth-century's view of Juliet as the young teenager, full of imagination and passion, given over to the thrill of her first love.
Raised in the wealthy Capulet household, by parents who left her care to the Nurse, Juliet leads a sheltered life until she meets Romeo. Then her determination t marry this man from a rival family leads her to resist her parents and strike out on her own. As M. Leigh Noel says of Juliet in 1885: "When a woman unites these two qualities--resolution and cunning--what is there she cannot effect?"
The American actresses, sisters Charlotte and Susan Cushman, premiered as Romeo and Juliet at the Haymarket Theatre, London in 1846. Their success is indicated by the fact that they played these parts over twenty times. Not all reviewers were complimentary, however. One reviewer satirized: "Miss Romeo,--or rather,--Miss Cushman as Romeo, has appeared this week at the Haymarket. The curiosity is not a novelty...Why should not Mr. Charles Kean play Juliet?"
It was not unusual for women to play male parts in theatrical performances. "Britches" parts, where women dressed as men, allowed actresses to explore and a wide varriety of theatrical roles and test their skills.