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How does Shakespeare present the relationship between Romeo and Juliet in the early part of the play? Do you notice anything significant about gender roles? In your response make reference to early parts of the play

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Introduction

Jawad Ahmed How does Shakespeare present the relationship between ?Romeo and Juliet? in the early part of the play? Do you notice anything significant about gender roles? In your response make reference to early parts of the play. In the 16th century a patriarchal society, where men dominated women, meant that women had very little say in marriages. When Shakespeare first introduced ?Romeo and Juliet? for the first time their type of relationship was unheard of and controversial. Arranged marriages were very common at the time depending on your social status and love had no meaning. Women had no rights and were viewed as the ?property? of the husband. Men also had no respect for women and often raided other villages for wives. At the time marrying at the age of 12 appeared to be normal, however now is frowned at, yet viewing this from an undeveloped, cultural country would still appear to be normal. ...read more.

Middle

?Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!? Romeo is depicted as a ?typical Petrarchan lover? where he loves Rosaline but she doesn?t love him back because she wanted to remain a celibate. Romeo does not actually love Rosaline as when he later meets Juliet he forgets Rosaline very quickly and shows a more passionate love towards Juliet. Shakespeare emphasises Romeo?s love by using an oxymoron, which creates a paradoxical image in the readers mind confusing them and generates a new concept or meaning. Romeo?s relationship with Juliet was love at first sight. Their love for each other was passionate instead of being forced like it usually was at the time. ?If I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this?. The social context at the time meant that love marriage wasn?t common however Romeo and Juliet immediately fall in love when they first meet each other. Juliet's love for Romeo is innocent as she is inexperienced in the topic of love, whereas Romeo falls in and out of love easily and immediately wants to marry her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Again, Shakespeare is subverting the gender roles; he is making Juliet the powerful character. You can see this by the positioning of Romeo, on the ground, and Juliet higher up than him, in the balcony, symbolising she is more dominant. Further proof of this is Juliet making daring actions, such as asking Romeo to marry her. To conclude the significant thing I notice is the context during which the play was written. It was ground-breaking in the sense of how Shakespeare presented relationships and gender roles and portrayed them so realistically. It was rare for such a play to be released with such passionate romance. Personally, this play has highlighted how lucky we are in the modern society, to be able to have the freedom to fall in love with who we want. However, the fact remains that this still is an on-going problem in third world countries where they are retaining the tradition of arranged marriages. So this cannot come as a shock because gender stereotypes still exist in cultural families, even though we are unaware of it living in a developed modern society. ________________ Page ...read more.

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