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Discuss how Romeo and Juliet is set in a male-dominated culture

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GCSE English Literature Coursework In Elizabethan England, males dominated. Women were entirely dependent on the males in their life, be they a father, husband, or even brother. Fathers regarded their daughters as possessions and controlled all aspects of their life, from what they did in their spare time to whom they married. The fathers saw their daughter's marriage as a means of acquiring wealth and social status. Women had no choices in life and were not educated unless lessons in how to be a lady counted as education. Women were not able to inherit property. They were viewed by society as weak, feeble and inferior to males and, because of this view, they attracted little respect. Males viewed young women as sex toys around for their, the males', convenience. Males, on the other hand, were free to do what ever they wished. They were most likely to receive an education and were seen as superior in every way. In the play's opening scene, we are shown that Romeo & Juliet, thought to be a slushy romance, is in fact a lot more violent. Sampson and Gregory (Capulet servants) are roaming around a public place, winding each other up. They are making laddish jokes and generally being young men. ...read more.


He says his "fingers itch", in other words he is restraining himself from hitting Juliet. He is usually obeyed to the letter and therefore being disobeyed by someone younger than himself, let alone his daughter, an inferior woman, really enrages him. He threatens to disown Juliet, "And you be mine, I'll give you to my friend; And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets...I'll ne'er acknowledge thee", unless she goes "to church o' Thursday", to get married. At the ball, Tybalt argues with Capulet over what to do about Romeo's presence. Tybalt feels that Romeo has come to "fleer and scorn", in other words to poke fun and dishonour them. He has an immediate violent impulse; "Fetch me my rapier, boy". He wishes a servant to bring him his sword so that he can kill Romeo on the spot, as "to strike him dead (he) hold it not a sin". He feels that killing Romeo is not a sin as to him it would avenging the insult - upholding his, Tybalt's, family honour. He tells Capulet that he, Tybalt, will "not endure him", Romeo, at the ball. ...read more.


He is saying that her eyes could take place of the stars in the sky if the stars fancied a rest, only the trouble would be that the eyes would emit so much light that the birds would be confused and begin singing, as they would think it were day. He turns her into an object for worship, which is unrealistic and not a suitable basis for reliable communication. This proves that young women were treated as goddesses, whereas old, working class women were treated as mud and the butt of many sexually orientated jokes. In the world of Romeo & Juliet, patriarchs have complete control of their families. Their sole purpose in life is to uphold family honour, no matter what, and often resort to dictator-like tactics to do so. Women are treated totally differently depending on their looks and status. Rich beautiful women were idolised; put on a pillar and worshipped as a goddess whereas lower class women were seen as inferior and subordinate. Had the play been set in a more modern culture, many of the events taking place would not have happened. For example, Mercutio and Tybalt's deaths could only occur in a setting where street fighting was a common occurrence. To sum up, a less violent time, place and culture would have rendered such a tragedy unlikely or even impossible to achieve. ...read more.

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