Women and Society in Romeo and Juliet
It has been said that with his play, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare is holding a mirror to his audience and informing them, “Look.” For this play was not just entertainment, but also a reflection of Elizabethan society. In it the audience saw themselves, and now it provides audiences today a glimpse of life in Shakespeare. By consisting of the concept of arranged marriages and the role of women, Shakespeare portrays the faults in Elizabethan society in Romeo and Juliet.
Among the elements of the Elizabethan Age challenged in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was the unfavorable side of set up marital relationships, by presenting the reader to the characterization of Lord and Lady Capulet’s marriage and Juliet and Romeo’s. In numerous upper class families, like the Capulets, kids would be wed off based on “home and dynastic power” (Watts 77). It was believed that this would result in a thriving and productive marriage. Shakespeare contests this concept by providing his audience with the stretched marriage of Lord and Girl.
Throughout the play, Woman Capulet insults her partner and recommendations the reality that he is several years her senior: “A crutch, a crutch. Why call you for a sword” (I. i. 70). Sometimes, there were marital relationships in which the other half was twice the age of his wife or more. For instance Richard II married Isabella of France who was only six years of ages, King Henry IV wed an eleven year old who then “produced a baby within a year”, and Woman Capulet wed a male several years older than herself (Watts 77). It can be assumed that these marriages were met with many dissatisfied years together.
To avoid the exact same fate from striking his young daughter, Capulet delays the marriage between Juliet and Paris, and reacts, “And too soon ruined are those so early made”, implying the tension in his marriage (I. ii. 13). On the other hand, Shakespeare consists of the element of Romeo and Juliet’s love and marital relationship, to show a strong marital relationship that is not formed by a prior arrangement. They wed each other by themselves volition, rather of being “bought and sold like livestock for breeding” (Watts 77). However this was not the case for the youth in Shakespeare’s day.
The children had no say in who they would marry; they were “matched with a prestigious mate”, not the individual that they enjoyed (Hamilton 88). Shakespeare checks out the notion that if the moms and dads let the children decide their own fate, they would have a marriage loaded with love instead of bile. Through Lord and Woman Capulet’s marital relationship and Romeo and Juliet’s, Shakespeare shows the mistake in arranged marriages. To in addition mirror Elizabethan society, Shakespeare creates the character Woman Capulet and Juliet to represent the function of ladies. With these two characters, Shakespeare questions what a real female is.
Woman Capulet is viewed as the real lady of the day, but Shakespeare disagrees. As Girl Capulet is “wholly submissive” to the rulers of society: the man (Garber 46). She is weak and even when she makes an attempt to take a stand for something, she ultimately gives up. When her husband flies into a mad rage at Juliet, Lady Capulet first exclaims, “Fie, fie! What? Are you mad ,” siding with her child (3. v. 157).
Nevertheless, being the obedient better half, she ultimately gives in and sides with her lord: “Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word for I will have none of thee [,] (3. 202-203). This passive lady, however, is the opposite of her child, Juliet. Regardless of her obedient and innocent look at the beginning of the play, Juliet soon progresses into a strong young lady. This challenges the belief of the audience for they feel that ladies are weak and need men to control their lives. Normal to the age, Juliet’s life is “controlled by authority figures”, mainly her daddy (Garber 46). She has no control over her own life and if she were to make an attempt to gain control her father would lash out.
This occurs later when Juliet opposes the marital relationship in between Paris and herself and her dad reacts by providing her the demand: “An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets” (III. v. 192). With the creation of 2 polar characters, Shakespeare challenges the Elizabethan viewpoint of ladies. Through his play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare successfully mirrors Elizabethan society’s unfavorable elements like organized marriages and the female’s role. He shows the people of his day what they are actually like and makes them question how they treat their better halves and daughters. Today this classic piece offers audiences a look at the past.