Patriarchy in Romeo and Juliet

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, Juliet Capulet, Marriage Pages: 4 (1718 words) Published: January 18, 2006
In a patriarchal society, women are expected to conform to social restrictions by demonstrating reverence and obedience to the males in their lives. Shakespeare's tragic play, Romeo and Juliet, explores the effects of patriarchal authority exerted over women and how the patriarchal structure left no escape from it, save death. Through Juliet, Lady Capulet, and the Nurse, Shakespeare establishes a common understanding of this type of society, but illuminates three different reactions to the social oppression by portraying the responses of a passionate lover, an idyllic housewife, and an attendant. Juliet is introduced into the play in act one scene three, as an innocent, obedient, and respectful adolescent. Her polite response to her mother, "Madam, I am here, What is your will?" (1.3.7), establishes an optimistic sentiment that assures the audience of her acquiescent nature. She further demonstrates her eloquence in response to her mother's proposal to consider marriage as she sensibly and astutely replies, "It is an honour that I dream not of" (1.3.68). Her response is genuinely reverential, thus confirming she understands her responsibility as a daughter, and her place in a male-dominate world; she continues showing such submission, grace, and maturity throughout the entire scene, especially when she decides to agree to "look to like, if looking liking move" (1.3.99), then acknowledging that the parental "consent" (1.3.101) is imperative. This is the only scene where Juliet is depicted as being innocent, for when she meets Romeo in act one scene five, she begins transforming from a yielding child into a focused woman in love while maintaining the same element of grace in her presence. Meeting Romeo drastically changes Juliet as she begins to exhibit a new sense of maturity. In her famous window speech she is ready to abandon her family and "no longer be a Capulet" if she can only be with Romeo in marriage. She effectively rebels against her father's authority...
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