During the period of time known as Elizabethan England, the roles men and women played contrasted in many different ways. Men were supposed to be emotionless and strong while women were always required to be submissive. In the tragic romantic play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare introduces the theme of gender roles through different characters such as Romeo, Paris, and Juliet who all give a glimpse into what was expected of women and men respectively. Romeo and Juliet, the two protagonists of the play come from two families that have maintained an age-old feud.
One fateful night, these two “star-crossed lovers” meet. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the other maintained a part of the enemy family. Against social normalities and the will of their own family, they decide to be wedded to each other without the consent of the patriarchs of their families. The same fate that brought these two individuals together, divides them with the death of the death of the other person. Throughout the romantic play which turns to a calamity, gender themes can be identified which contrast greatly to those common today. Juliet’s lack of agency within her major life decisions highlights the way that gender roles silenced the voice of women while simultaneously placing unrealistic standards on the men of the time.
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Women had very little say or power within the context of their marriage. The husband made all of the decisions without the consent of his wife. “My child is yet a stranger in the world. / She hath not seen the change of fourteen years, / Let two more summers wither in their pride / Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.” (Rom. I.ii. 8-12) Lord Capulet’s precious young child will wed his daughter to the man he sees the best fit for her. Juliet is even absent all while this conversation concerning her future takes place. Using the term “ripe” portrays the image of the Capulets growing and grooming their child for her one purpose in life, to serve and complete a man’s personal appearance who she becomes forced into a relationship with. Her youthful age and demeanor allow the parents to infer that she is unable to make decisions for herself. Lord Capulet uses the term “we”,
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