Sexist Themes In Romeo and Juliet
This is a tale of young lovers who live nearby, yet with the feud of the bloodlines, they couldn’t be farther apart. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy about two teens that would do anything to be together, and in the end, pay the ultimate price for their love. Throughout the story, Juliet is given less freedom and is forced into things because she is a girl. Juliet is often held back by the shockingly low amount of power she has in her life, she doesn’t have a say in what she does and what happens to her.
In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is often held back by her gender, one reason is she was being forced into a marriage she didn’t want. We get this idea because we read that Lady Capulet is trying to sell the idea of marriage and Paris to Juliet. (Act One, Scene Three) Lord and Lady Capulet are trying to get Juliet in this marriage because it would get their family up a social class, not at all considering how Juliet feels about this. This is a problem because soon after this, Juliet and Romeo fall in love, which leads to the problem of cheating on your husband which was a severe crime because women weren’t valued and if they were a bad wife, they weren’t good for anything else. Juliet obviously displays a distaste for the idea of marriage to Paris. “It is an honor that I dream not of.” (Act one, Scene three, line 67) This proves she is being forced into this marriage because if it was her idea she would be happy about it. This impacts the story in a big way because if she wasn’t so against this idea she probably wouldn’t have decided to marry Romeo so quickly. As I have written above, Juliet’s feelings about marrying Paris affected the play in multiple ways.
Women in this time period had very little to no power or control over their lives, even those who come from powerful families such as Juliet. The only place Juliet can go alone is to Friar Lawrence to confess her sins, other than that she must stay with other adults. If you can’t do anything alone and you must stay with other people are you really ever in full control of your life. This also points to the fact that everything is basically planned out for her because if she stays in her room most of the time how is she expected to meet people or a husband. Another way Juliet’s gender hinders her is she can’t own or really do anything until she marries a man. If she doesn’t have any money or possessions she can’t do anything or go anywhere without her family, this makes it even harder for her to be with Romeo? If she left her parents she wouldn’t inherit anything despite the family wealth and so she can’t leave because you need to eat and have a place to stay. These are just some of the ways Juliet isn’t in control or have very much, if any, say in her life.
The reasons previously stated displays the lack of power and control Juliet has in her life, and I showed what kind of basic rights she didn’t have or things she couldn’t do. Between being forced into marriage with a man she didn’t love and being deprived of simple things like privacy and freedom to own and do things she really didn’t have her own life. Looking at the story through the feminist lens really made me think about it in a completely different way and it makes me grateful to live in an amazing country where the “basic rights” I have previously described can be described as basic.
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