What Impression Does Shakespeare Give the Audience of the Relationship Between Men and Women Through the Dialogue Between Romeo and Benvolio in Act One Scene One?

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William Shakespeare’s infamous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, is set in 15th century Verona; a town torn between the anger, violence, quarrel and rivalry of two prestigious families, the house of Montague and the house of Capulet. Despite this, the play is also able to tell the story of two star crossed lovers who find themselves caught between the strife. However this is not the only key relationship which Shakespeare shows us throughout the play; a view on the relationship between men and women can also be looked at during the dialogue between Romeo and his cousin in Act One Scene One. Romeo’s initial love for Rosaline is a situation that leads to the audience being able to infer much about how Shakespeare wishes to portray the relationship between men and women. The situation is one that shows the woman being completely absent from a situation that surrounds her; her name is not even mention, surely hinting on the lack of any importance or respect from the Montague men to the opposite sex. Despite the fact that she is the subject, Rosaline has no say whatsoever and the audience never does see nor hear from her. Furthermore, the factor that she is becoming a nun, and therefore chaste adds to the passiveness of Rosaline’s overall character and thereafter the view of women; it clashes with the more powerful and dominant image of men that is then being portrayed by the characters of Romeo and Benvolio as they are solely the ones that discuss the love, and more importantly what action should be taken, rather than Romeo and Rosaline. This may show that Shakespeare is implying that the woman is undermined by the man, his wishes and thoughts are the only ones that we hear, meaning that they are what Shakespeare considers to be important for the audience to hear and consider; ultimately that the male is the primary figure and superior to the female, a stereotype that was very existent at the time. It makes one think that, had the situation had been reversed, we would...
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