Romeo and Juliet
Reviving Arranged Marriages: Elizabethan Time to Today
While seemingly archaic, arranged marriages are still common in many cultures today. William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet chronicles the devastating emotions girls face when forced to marry an unknown man. Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father, is in charge of who she marries. When Paris, Juliet’s fiancé, asks to marry Juliet he says, “An she agrees, within her scope of choice/ Lies my consent and fair according voice” (1.2.18-20). Similar to teens today, Juliet suffered the effects of an arranged marriage. In countless cultures, arranged marriages are the way of life. If you get married by personal choice, you are frowned upon. Girls in many cultures have very strong courageous mind sets for allowing an illegal act to be performed, to marry at a young age. “Parents know about the illegality of such marriages, but in West Bengal, considered an intellectually progressive state, only two cases were registered in 2005 under the Child Restraint Act” (Dhar). They do not report the acts of abuse due to the fact that they may go to jail. If the father goes to jail, they are virtually surviving off very little or no income. Comparatively, Nurse reflects on this subject when she recalls in Romeo and Juliet, “I remember it well. / ‘Tis since the earthquake now eleven years; / and she was weaned. (I shall never forget it),” (1.3.27-29). This devastating way of life, traumatizes these women and the unrealistic expectations have harmful effects on the girls. Not only do arranged marriages have cultural reasons, many middle-eastern parents struggle with the decision to send their daughters off. Girls cannot comprehend why they must live with a strange, unfamiliar man. “While poverty primarily drives parents to marry off daughters early… a social norm steeped in tradition lies behind in many cultures” (Dhar). Continuously, if you do not marry your daughter off, it not only makes you look bad but your...
Cited: Dhar, Sujoy. “Indian girl starts revolt against early, arranged marriages.” Washington Times, The 03 006 2010. P1. EBSCOhost. Web. 3may 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=c291f339090b4de2977fc9464c3e12f7%40sessionmgr112&vid=1&hid=107&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d%3d#db=n5h&AN=4KB520100603041623300003>
Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.” The Language of Literature. Comp. Arthur N. Applebee. Evanston: McDougall-Littell, 2002. Print.
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