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With reference to the text how does a modern day audience respond to the portrayal of parent/child relationships in Shakespeare(TM)s Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

Kate Palmer "With reference to the text how does a modern day audience respond to the portrayal of parent/child relationships in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?" Romeo and Juliet is a play containing two main themes. The first is love; Romeo and Juliet love each, enough to die to stay together. The other is hate; the Montagues and Capulets hate each enough to fight and kill one another. In the play the two main families in Verona are constantly at war, when Romeo and Juliet fall in love at the Capulet ball, they fall in love "at first sight." The two are soon married but Tybalt -Juliet's cousin - subsequently murders Mercutio - Romeo's best friend - and Romeo is exiled to Mantua. While Romeo is away, Juliet is told she must marry Paris; she refuses and is told by Capulet that if she does not appear at the church on the wedding day, he will disown her. On hearing this Juliet runs to seek advice from Friar Laurence. The friar hatches a plan, which entails Juliet taking a sleeping potion, which will make her appear dead for longer than twenty-four hours, so she and Romeo can run away together and live in peace. When Romeo hears the news of Juliet's supposed death, he comes to see her "dead" body. Romeo murders Paris in the church and on seeing Juliet one last time, takes a deadly poison. Juliet wakes, and on seeing her husband dead, stabs herself. Family relationships are very different today than at the time the play was set. ...read more.

Middle

I think this shows the differences between modern day society and the time the play was set, because there are still arranged marriages, but they rarely happen in western society and culture, they usually occur in eastern Asia, so parents very rarely have to tell their child who they are to marry but the other way round. Juliet refuses in a very stubborn way, almost childlike; she outwardly dismisses the proposal and expects the matter to be over with very quickly. In the Zeffireli film adaptation this section is shown by Juliet shouting and screaming at her mother in shock and disbelief; She outwardly shows her feelings and does not hold anything back. Although Juliet acts this way with her mother, she would never act this way in front of her father because she knows the harsh consequences if she did. Juliet reasons that it is too soon to marry and that she would rather marry Romeo before Paris, which is ironic. I will not marry yet; and, when I do, I swear, It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate, Rather than Paris. These are news indeed! (Act three: Scene five) This quote shows that Juliet is trying to tell her mother that she cannot and must not marry Paris, she says it is too soon after Tybalt's death. I think Juliet is trying to bide time because she cannot marry because she is already wed to Romeo, Tybalt's murderer. A modern day audience would empathise with Juliet, as she doesn't want to upset her mother, but her parents cannot know why she doesn't want to or in fact can't marry Paris. ...read more.

Conclusion

A modern day audience would not expect this from the Nurse but would understand her reasons for advising Juliet to leave her loved one. They would still react with a sense of loss and sadness for Juliet because after everything Romeo and Juliet have been through, one would expect them to live happily ever after. In conclusion a modern day audience would react differently to a Shakespearian audience, this is because different things are socially acceptable in today's society than in Shakespearian times. Firstly they lived in a patriarchal society, this meant that the father was the leading figure of the household. Also their wives did not work, thus living off their husband's earnings. Family relationships were not as strong, rich families often employed a nurse for the upbringing of their children. Subsequently families did not bond and were not as close, often the nurse would form a mother figure for the daughter, and this would lead to the nurse becoming a lot closer to the daughter than the mother, this can be seen very clearly in the play. Marriage was viewed very differently, parents often arranged marriages for their children, into families with the same wealth, and with whom they were on good terms with, this ensured a safe and stable future for their children. The age of consent was not put in place then so many married young, often 13 or 14 years old whereas now it is 16 years old. Although even now parents are still a figure of authority that do not like to be disobeyed and there are always harsh consequences if they are. ...read more.

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