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Are Male Characters Stereotyped as Violent and Crude? Discuss. Consider Events Up to Act 3: Scene 1

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Introduction

Are Male Characters Stereotyped as Violent and Crude? Discuss. Consider Events Up to Act 3: Scene 1 Hatred, violence and sex. These are three major themes found in the most famous love story of all time "Romeo and Juliet". It features many traits of human nature, for example the way we are capable of both hate and love. Males are often stereotyped throughout the world as chauvinistic, violent and crude. The aim of this essay is to explore to what extent does Shakespeare stereotype male characters in "Romeo and Juliet"? The prologue immediately gives the impression that this is a tragedy: it describes the death and destruction that is caused by a family dispute 'civil blood makes civil hands unclean'. Both families are noble and powerful, 'civil', and should be gentlemanly. However, the juxtaposition of the world 'unclean' condemns them slightly, suggesting that fighting is dirty and immoral, that it makes your soul unclean. It also merely implies that these noble families will fight, much blood will be shed. The words 'rage' and 'grudge' are more explicit indications of the hatred to be expressed by the characters. Is "Romeo and Juliet" a tragedy? This question seems on first impressions to have a rather obvious answer. However, when considering some of the scenes including the crude discussions of many male characters, it is not quite as evident. The lewd conversations spoken by many of the servant classes and the male Montagues are often comical. For example, the way that Mercutio insults the Nurse in Act 2:Scene 4. He compares her to a hare and calls her 'ancient', being audacious and adding elements of comedy. However the play does have a tragic ending with the untimely deaths of his two young main characters. It has other elements of Elizabethan tragedy such as the Chorus and the audience undergoing a catharsis, feeling piteous towards the end. ...read more.

Middle

The banquet scene in which Romeo and Juliet first meet is quite chaotic, and again full of antithesis. It begins as a normal party would with small talk and dancing, however, whilst people are enjoying the festivities are almost interrupted when Tybalt spots Romeo and threatens to disturb the merriment. His impulsive, provocative behaviour consequently results in an argument with his uncle, until he leaves the stage, leaving an air of tension and unease behind him. This atmosphere is soon relieved by Romeo's reaction to Juliet. He refers to her as pure by comparing he to a dove, a symbol of purity. This he speaks of positively, but when talking about Rosaline's chastity he spoke negatively. Immediately this suggests true love as he respects her virginity selflessly. The imagery Romeo uses referring to light as opposed to darkness in the first scene signifies that he is no longer na�ve and can see past just good looks and see true beauty inside. It also suggests that it is more likely to be true love because now his words are full of hope rather than scorn. Another contrast to his feelings towards Rosaline is the use of religious imagery. He uses metaphors comparing himself to a 'pilgrim' and Juliet a 'saint' and a 'holy shrine'. This suggests that he respects and loves her unconditionally. 'If I profane with this unworthiest hand, This holy shrine...' suggests he has respect and reverence for her. Romeo again proves his love for Juliet by selflessly risking his life for her. For example, the balcony scene where he risks the constant threat of intrusion from the Nurse, Lady Capulet or Tybalt. Whenever they are together they risk being caught and torn apart by their feuding families. Despite this, Romeo persues and aquires the assistance of Friar Lawrence and the Nurse to help his and Juliet's love remain secret. The use of the sonnet the two lovers share shows to the audience that they are united in the fact that they are isolated from their families' feuding. ...read more.

Conclusion

They both conformed to the stereotype quite obviously, and both of them died quite early on in the play. Mercutio felt bitter at his demise, because it was unfair, suggesting that it was not to achieve a moral message, but merely to spark the chain of events that lead to the plays tragic ending. Also Tybalt's death is not dwelled upon, it is referred to as just a stage direction. He was there just to serve a purpose, like Mercutio, and instigate tragedy. Shakespeare could have done this in order to imply that because they are destructive and spill the blood of God's creations that all they deserve is to be used like tools to instigate the main events of the play. Contradictorily, Romeo's death brings about the reconciliation of the Montague and Capulet houses. Both sets of parents have sacrificed their only children to the feud, only to realise that violence and hatred are destructive and don't generate any positive outcomes. Even Prince Escales says 'a scourge is laid upon your hate', implying that this is their punishment for their violent and scornful behaviour. The Prince quotes that 'For never was a story of more woe', suggesting that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet are truly tragic. Romeo's single act of violence results in a chain of horrific events culminating in his death, which he chooses in order to be reunited with his Juliet. He sees this as a positive thing, unlike the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio, which we can applaud because they received their punishment for violent behaviour. However Romeo was not a violent person, except for one moment. This is why the audience mourns his death, because he and Juliet were innocents, caught up in a web of hatred and aggression. Whether or not the play was written in order to condemn violence, and to show that violent characters will suffer inevitably is open to debate. However, I believe that it was written to reflect the faults and indiscretions of Elizabethan society, particularly its view of honour and that violence and petty feuds were to frequent. ...read more.

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