Equality of the Sexes: Elizabethan Era and Now (as Conveyed in Romeo and Juliet)

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Equality of the Sexes: The Elizabethan Era and Now
Equal rights have always been a major issue and dispute. Analysing the role of women in the Elizabethan Era, through Shakespeare’s representation in Romeo and Juliet, and comparing them to the role of women in the 21st century, will help to demonstrate that equality of the sexes has been achieved, and come a long way in the past 400 years. Three ways in which equality of the sexes has been achieved is the role of a married, and unmarried woman, and roles of women in society. Married women’s roles have changed significantly since the late 1500s. A dowry has been abolished when women get married. Their sole purpose of being has changed and is no longer to just provide and raise children and complete household tasks. They can now get a job and have rights in marriage and families much the same as men. In marriage, women had to have a child every two years, as childbearing was considered an honour even though it was potentially life threatening. Also in the late 1500s, women had to instantly obey their husbands and any other males in the family, and their punishment for not obeying was being beaten into submission. An example of this in Romeo and Juliet is when Juliet refuses to marry Paris, and Capulet calls her a “disobedient wretch” for not following (Act III, Sc. V, 160). In the 21st century, men can no longer legally chastise their wives and are not always considered the head of the marriage as they were in Shakespeare’s time. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has represented the roles of married women in the Elizabethan Era. In Act 1, Scene 1, Montague and Lady Montague arrive in the square where the fight is breaking out, Lady Montague tries to stop him, but has no control after attempting to hold him back, as she has no authority over him, he also demands that she give his sword to him in a very abrupt manner, “Give me my long sword, ho!” (Act I, Sc. I). Therefore, women’s roles in marriage have equalised...
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