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Essay on Factors that influenced Shakespeare's writing of Romeo and Juliet: Religion and individualism.

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Essay on Factors that influenced Shakespeare's writing of Romeo and Juliet: Religion and individualism. Shakespeare was clearly influenced by the events of his time, and this is apparent especially in Romeo and Juliet. To dismiss this play as a mere fable is to overlook some very important religious and political changes of the time which are evidently woven into the storyline of the play. Shakespeare's religious beliefs are uncertain, but it is known that his father was Catholic, and that he lived in a time of religious stratification across both community and family ties. As a result of the queen's toleration for vagueness in this area, people became accustomed to "religious tension and confusion at a very personal level". Many of Shakespeare's works reflect that tension. It is known that these issues had affect on everyone living in England. Romeo and Juliet is a play based around conflict; the conflict of two families in discord with one another. The youth of the play cause violence and death due to their extreme beliefs and actions. ...read more.


Shakespeare, who was a loyal subject and supporter of the queen, offers a commentary on this situation in Romeo and Juliet. The Queen's church reflected her own "likings for the externals of Catholic worship" and she hated the "religious enthusiasm" of the Puritan movement. The Settlement also allowed her to stay in control over the state religion, whereas the Puritan belief in independent church government undermined her power and the national unity she tried to reach. Although it would seem that Romeo and Juliet is a criticism of the well-known social rules that regarded marriage as being contradictory to actual romantic love, a closer reading of the text shows that the youth in the play are the ones whose actions result in violence and death. Shakespeare seems to dispute the individual's right to disrupt the community because of individual beliefs. This leads to another influence on Shakespeare's works. The Reformation resulted in the developing idea of individualism. When Protestantism imposed on the Catholic order, the role of the individual in religion and society was greatly increased. ...read more.


This depicts the new sense of religious choice. The discretion in which they act with about their individual desires is an indication that Elizabethan society saw individual happiness very differently to how our modern society does. Instead, most of the population still valued the good of the community over that of the individual, and would have understood that Romeo and Juliet's decision, based on individualism, is their one major flaw and that when acting as an individual, the consequences of ones actions affect not only oneself, but the whole society. Modern culture, now that we have grown so far from the age of Individualism, can idolize Romeo and Juliet and villainize social order, but it is uncertain to whether an Elizabethan audience would have had the same views. 'I suggest that Romeo and Juliet is not so much a play about romantic love as it is a religious and political commentary. To reduce Shakespeare's work to allegory would be an oversimplification of his work; however, to divorce it from the literary and socio-political trends of his time is to overlook an important element of theatre during the Elizabethan period'. ...read more.

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