How the Nurse Feels is a story of a teenage girl named Tess Powell, who during the course of the story goes through some profound changes. Tess plays the role of the Nurse in her school’s current production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” But Tess has a rather bothersome problem. She is not able to play her role correctly, because of a failure in fully understanding and thereby expressing the emotions felt by the character. During the story she gets a crush on a boy, who has a small role in the play.
Tiger De Soto, whom she barely knows, is the troublemaker, and he is a contrast to Tess, who is the well-behaved daughter of a reverend. Because of a blizzard the school is closed for about a week, and the play is temporarily postponed. During the time the pupils are at home, Tiger disappears. At the end of the story it is revealed that Tiger died in an accident. The events following the blizzard, especially witnessing the anguish of Tiger’s parents, inspires Tess in a way she thinks will enable her to play the role of the Nurse.
But apparently she did not deliver a successful performance on the opening night. Tess, the main character, is a typical 15-year-old girl. As many other teenagers she is eagerly struggling to define her identity and figure out what she wants of life. Tess’ inability to figure out who she is, and to sort out all the emotions, which follows in the wake of adolescence, is symbolized by her incapability to figure out the correct way to play the nurse, the role, in her “Romeo and Juliet”. Even her drama teacher, Mr. Swick can’t motivate her.
Tess feels that her life is very tedious. She is tired of living in the small town of Winetka with her conservative parents. Her father, the reverend, is a very concerned and conservative man, whose main worry seems to be the problems of other families in town. Tess dreams about living in New York. “Instead, I have to sleep in a pink satin bedroom designed by my mother and, during supper, give feedback on my father’s sermons that have titles like: Is Family Love Passe, or Jesus says, “Come every Sunday”” (Line 101-104).
The fact that her mother has decorated her bedroom is a symbol of how her parents probably have dictated the course of her life. “Both my parents think that after college I will come back and take over Mother’s fabric store, but they have no idea. ” (Lines 96-97) Not only is her life of an unexciting character, she even feels like she is predestined to live this life until the end of her days. But like most teenagers would not do, she does not agree. Tess dreams of a life less structured, more exotic and dangerous.
But there is nothing strange about the way Tess feels, her problems are ordinary teenage dilemmas additionally supported by her boring and restricted life, and acting becomes her way of escaping her everyday life. Two different forms of love are depicted in the story. Tess’ teenage crush on Tiger de Soto is an example of teenage love, which never runs smoothly. Tiger plays the Apothecary in the play, and even though Tess does not really know him she falls in love with him during a very short telephone conversation – But it seems to me that Tess is more in love with the “idea of love”, than in Tiger.
She is fascinated by Tiger De Soto, who in some ways is her opposite. Rumour has it that he has broken the rules and the law by selling drugs on school campus, and it is even symbolized by Tiger’s name that he is “wild” in nature, or at least wilder. He keeps himself isolated from others, and when he needs to express himself, he seems to do it through his music. Tiger represent the forbidden just like Romeo does to Juliet. The other form for love is the love in the parents and children relationship, e. g. he affection the De Sotos displays when Tiger disappears. Another important aspect of the story is the development, which Tess goes through. In the beginning Tess is very much an unresolved person, especially emotions, such as love and sorrow, which is symbolized by her failure to truly understand her character. The Nurse is a more mature character than Juliet is, and therefore Tess finds Juliet easy because she can identify herself with her. Juliet is also “ruled by her parents but led by her heart” (Lines 3-4).
But at the end of the story, Tess develops a deeper understanding of both love and sorrow, by experiencing the two emotions herself, and also because she sees how the disappearing of their son affects the De Sotos. Especially Mrs. De Soto’s reaction to the situation affects Tess. This is shown in her understanding of her character on the opening night “Juliet is lying before me and I see all this and I think, now, I am the nurse. ” (Line 224-225). Even though it is not directly implied, it is possible that Tess also has gained a greater understanding of her parent’s concerns towards her welfare, as a result of the event.
There is no doubt that the society keeps changing and young people are pushed to mature early, which makes today’s youth different from the previous generations. Young people are giving lesser and lesser time to find out who they are and what they want in life. That is why so many adolescents start to develop masks so that they can fit into a ruthless society. Tess’ love was complicated just like Romeo and Juliet’s, in the picture where Juliet is touching Romeos chest she does not look very satisfied, and the reason for that could be that she knew she could never have Romeo.
It’s the same with Tess and Tiger, she felt the distance between them went away when they had a conversation over the telephone, but as soon as they hang up the distance is the same – four miles of snow. Romeo and Juliet’s love were bigger than the fact that they could not have each other and so was the love Tess has for Tiger. In the song by Robbie Williams he sings about how one person feels more than the other and that is just like Tess and Tiger. She wants him, but he does not know that she wants him, and he does not send any signals that she could catch.