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Hierarchy in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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Hierarchy in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet The England of Shakespeare and Elizabeth the 1 was a very structured place, and had a rather complicated system of government. First, there were the national bodies of government such as the Privy Council and Parliament, then the regional bodies such as the Council of the Marches and the North and then county and community bodies. From this, we can see that the three most powerful bodies were the Monarchy, Privy Council and Parliament. In Romeo and Juliet however, there are still three powerful bodies but they are the Church, the Monarchy and the Patriarchy represented by Friar Lawrence, Prince Escalus and Lord Capulet. Throughout Romeo and Juliet we see this term, Hierarchy yet the meaning of power that characterises it is not always portrayed in the play. Hierarchy in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is based on the idea of power not age or wisdom. However, even thou hierarchy plays such extreme rolls in the play it is not always obeyed by the characters that are placed lower on the hierarchical chart. Such as when Friar Lawrence lectures on the sins of suicide, but Romeo and Juliet decide to take this path in order to be together or when the Prince forbids fighting in the streets yet Tybalt and Mercutio still fight. Much of Romeo and Juliet involves the lovers struggles against public and social institutions that either explicitly and implicitly oppose the existence of their love. ...read more.


This would not have been known during the Elizabethan era and would only work for her as she is very close to the family and more of a family member. However, when Romeo and Mercutio mock her she asks him to stick up for her, 'Peter,' 'Anon,' 'my fan, Peter.' We see that even thou he is her employed by her, because of the fact that she is a woman it is as if he is embarrassed to be seen taking orders in front of other men. Friar Lawrence is respected by everybody in Verona. He is on neither side and believes that the marriage of Romeo and Juliet will stop this ancient feud. He can be seen at the very top of the hierarchical chart for power and respect yet he is also at the bottom due to his lack of wealth and possessions. At no point during the play do we see anybody raise their voice to him. However, at the end of the play we see him as a weak man or a coward fleeing from the tomb, scared of what will happen to him. We see this term hierarchy in the very first scene with the Servants of Capulet and Montague. It begins with the Capulet servants talking about how they are better than any Montague. They also talk of killing Montague men and thrusting their women up against the wall. ...read more.


Lord Capulet then explodes calling her names and ridiculing her and orders her to go to Church on Thursday, brutally dragging her kicking and screaming if she refuses. He calls her a, 'minion,' a sick bag and a, 'hilding,' in his fury and violent temper. Capulet repeats his orders again, 'speak not, reply not, do not answer me!' and, 'my fingers itch,' showing the violent anger he is just managing to contain. When the Nurse interrupts to defend, Juliet Capulet insults her with words like, 'gossip,' and 'lady wisdom.' The Nurse immediately understands to herself that she has gone too far in helping Juliet with her forbidden love relationship and withdraws from the argument. Between lines 176-195 Capulet becomes calmer, gives his point of view, and has worked very hard in finding a good match for Juliet. Capulet clearly regards her as his property to do with and hand out as he wishes. From this we can see that Capulet must take into consideration the feelings of others and show many faces to hold and keep his honour and integrity within the family and to sustain his place at the top of the family. Overall, we can see that Shakespeare has taken into consideration of the importance of hierarchy. He shows this with the ideas of honour, age, authority, strength and resistance. Shakespeare is also aware of the power of free will within a family as we can see when characters disobey their elders or can move up the hierarchical chart or go down depending on their actions and respect towards the family. ...read more.

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