Romeo and Juliet': Introduction Essay

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William Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet' is a tragedy play about two star-crossed lovers. Aware of his Elizabethan audience, Shakespeare creates men that are in vastly different contrast to current beliefs. Because the ideologies of masculinity in 13th century Italy differed from the modern term's definition today. Men are represented as arrogant in Romeo and Juliet and challenge the gender expectations of the time. Their egoism, dominance, and impulsiveness position a modern audience to accept this representation.

Shakespeare presents these opening characters as misogynistic, patriarchal characters. This is shown in Samson and Gregory's conversation in Act 1 Scene 1. ''Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads, take it what sense thou wilt''. This is an example of toxic masculinity and disrespect towards women. This sexual punning could also be interpreted as inferring humor onto the topic of sexual assault towards women. Romeo could also be recognized for being misogynistic too, In His first description of Juliet in the play he refers to her as ''My Lady'' and ''My Love'' indicating Juliet has been dehumanized by Romeo to seem as though she's purely a possession or belonging of his. This occurs again when Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to marry them, referring to Juliet as ''The fair daughter of Lord Capulet''.Symbolizing that Juliet has merely no identity apart from the fact she is her father's daughter.

Also act 1 Scene 1 in 'Romeo and Juliet' is an introduction to the hierarchy and the ranks of the people in the society in the play. Men, having much more sexual freedom than women, frequently use sexual puns throughout the play. This form of language asserts their masculine power over women, who are portrayed as weak and viewed only as sexual figures. 'My naked weapon is out.' This has a double meaning as it can literally be about his weapon as they are about to engage in a fight. However, it could be meant figuratively as a sexual innuendo of a phallic image The fact that he talks of it as a weapon expresses again reinforces the male domination over women.

Due to the male-dominated society that the play was based upon, authority over a woman is a key aspect of being a man in a Patriarchal society. Lord Capulet is one of the leading male roles in the play 'Romeo and Juliet'. He is head of the Capulet household also being the father to Juliet. In the play, he demonstrates the key authorities and male attributes as a powerful man in the Elizabethan era.

An example of Lord Capulet representing a very dominant, controlling, and overpowering sense of masculinity is through the treatment of his daughter Juliet. This can be shown when Juliet refuses to marry Paris. ''Go with Paris to Saint Peter's church, or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither''. Showing How discussed and shocked he is that Juliet would dare go against his wishes to marry and disobey him. When Lord Capulet states he will drag her to the wedding on a ''hurdle'' it compares her marrying Paris as being executed. This shows how he is not caring about his daughters' own feelings or opinions Lord Capulet only cares about what he is doing for her as her male superior figure. This links back to how women were controlled and depicted as second-class citizens to men, as the males and fathers would decide who their daughters would marry and how their life should pan out.

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In addition, in Act 3 scene 5. Lord Capulet greatly demonstrates the violent and cruel side of his masculinity when challenged with Juliet's opposing views. 'Speak not, reply not, do not answer me' This authoritative language reenforces the ideologies that men had total power over women in this era. Secondly ''My fingers itch'' (He wants to hit Juliet) - this is a direct threat of violence. Capulet's 'fingers itch' because he wishes to punish Juliet because of her behaviour. Blatantly demonstrating how the misogynistic stereotype of men using physical and phycological violence to assert power and supress women.

However, in contrast, at the end of Act 5, Lord Capulet shows another side to his masculinity. Rather than becoming furious and distraught over Romeo and Juliet's suicides, his sorrow is presented through a sense of unity and amalgamation. ''O brother Montague, give me thy hand this is my daughters jointure for no more I can demand''. This shows that Capulet came forward first and wishes Montague to forgive him for their previous arguments. Capulet's address of Montague as 'brother' Portrays his now very caring and genuine care towards his once enemy. This is a great depiction of his masculinity projecting caring and genuine attributes.

Shakespeare leaving Romeo out of Act four could show his masculinity as weak or pusillanimous, doing so is the opposite of what male masculinity is typically seen as. Juliet is therefore the leading character in Act four who plays a critical role to successfully take a potion and shows great courage and bravery. By Shakespeare removing Romeo from this Act, leaves Juliet to play the role of the protagonist which is challenging gender stereotypes at the time the play was made. Another structural aspect to this point is that Shakespeare could have revered the gender roles and their stereotypes from Juliet to Romeo as he feminises Romeo to be weak and feeble, where Juliet takes lead and portrays the characterises of male masculinity in the Elizabethan era in Act 4.

A contradictory portrayal of masculinity in the play ''Romeo and Juliet'' is through the character of Romeo. In the first scene of the play Act 1 Scene 1, Romeo is shown to possess more stereotypical feminine traits than any other male characters in the play. Shakespeare's representation of masculinity is challenged when Romeo enters the scene and says ''Oh, brawling love, Oh brawling hate.'' This is showing how his love for Rosaline is making him fight against his own emotions. The phrase 'loving hate' juxtaposes two opposite emotions, showing Romeo to be at war with himself over love, showing himself as overly emotional. Romeo's weak and emotional side is mentioned further into the play where the nurse says to him in Act 3 Scene 3 ''blubbering and weeping, weeping and blubbering'' further amplifying how the character of Romeo expresses a far different side to masculinity to people such as Lord Capulet or any other male character in the play.

Masculinity is presented through the character of Tybalt in a very different way to Romeo. It can be shown as crude, aggressive, and violent. This can be shown where he states in Act 1 scene 2 during the fight in the street ''What drawn and talk of peace, I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!'' This is amplifying Tybalt's hunger to fight and show himself to be a brave strong man. He is also called 'the prince of cats' as he is always desperately looking for a fight. This is exaggerated when he refers to the word peace as hell. Tybalt's ways of his large boisterous violent masculinity can be linked with how he hated the idea of a union and being equal. This idea was ingrown into the male stereotype from the Elizabethan time and can be somewhat identified in toxic masculinity where modern-day men use their strength and power to dominate and suppress women.

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Romeo and Juliet’: Introduction Essay. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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