Family and Parent/Child relationships
Many plays and poems are concerned with the relationship between parents and their children. Choose a situation where this issue is considered in a Shakespeare play and link it with poetry where there is a similar situation. Refer closely to the texts in your answer to support your views.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays. The sad tale of the two star-crossed lovers was written in Elizabethan times and because of this features families a lot different from that of today. Elizabethan families ran very differently from that that goes on in our own home sweet homes. Elizabethan children were considered their parents property and must obey whatever their parents said; this was usually the father as women in the past would also have to follow the strict rules of their husbands. As well as that, children, in rich families, were often forced to marry whom they were instructed to; primarily for money. The ideas of family feature heavily in Romeo and Juliet and in this assessment I will explore said ideas in depth.
In Act One, Scene Two Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, is consulting Paris after he asked for Juliet’s hand in marriage. Capulet believes that his daughter is too young to marry. Capulet says ‘An she agree, within her scope of choice lies my consent and fair according voice’ he is saying that Paris has his approval but it is up to Juliet to make the final decision. The way Capulet handles the situation with Paris shows the love and kindness he feels for his daughter. Capulet allows Juliet to decide if she wants to marry this man. This wouldn’t have happened very often in Elizabethan times as the richer families often married for wealth not love and here Capulet is asking, not telling, Juliet to marry this wealthy man. He doesn’t treat her as a piece of furniture and wants her to be happy with the person she marries, ‘She is the hopeful lady of my earth’ Capulet has lost his previous children and only wants the best for his only daughter.
Then, in Act Three, Scene Four, Capulet arranges Juliet’s and Paris’ wedding saying ‘she shall be married to this noble earl’. Capulet arranges this marriage without his daughters consent because he believes it will help to bring his daughter out of her depressive state, which he thinks is caused by the death of her cousin Tybalt but in reality it’s because of Romeo being exiled from Verona. The sentence Capulet says shows how kind he is to his daughter; Capulet could have chosen the wealthiest man he could get his hands on, however he chooses a ‘noble’ suitor for his daughter to marry. This once again shows that Capulet doesn’t want to use his daughter for money and actually wants his daughter to be happy with the one she marries.
So far Capulet has been presented as the figure head of the perfect father, given the Elizabethan era, however there is a moment when his attitude towards his daughter changes. In Act Three, Scene Five Capulet has just been informed by his wife that Juliet has refused to marry Paris. Capulet then responds with ‘Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest?’ Capulet then goes on to tell her that he will throw her out and never look upon her again. Now, Capulet’s exclamation could be seen by many to be harsh and unfair, however, given the era the play was written children did as their parents instructed and never had anything else to say on the matter. Capulet asks several questions one after another not waiting for an answer, this suggests that he is panicking and has no idea how he is meant to handle this; this could very well likely be the first time his daughter has defied him. So, given the plays era, Capulet’s outrage is completely understandable, he is shocked, panicked and appalled at Juliet’s behaviour as children never defied their parents, particularly their fathers.
Now I shall move onto the topic of Juliet’s mother, Lady Capulet. In Act One, Scene Three Lady Capulet...
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