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Romeo and Juliet - How far does the character of JUliet conform to the typical role of a woman in Shakespeare's time?

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Introduction

Alex Norwood 10Y1 G.C.S.E ENGLISH COURSEWORK ASSIGNMENT SHAKESPEARE - 'ROMEO AND JULIET' HOW FAR DOES THE CHARACTER OF JULIET CONFORM TO THE TYPICAL ROLE OF A WOMAN IN SHAKESPEARE'S TIME ? 'Romeo and Juliet' deals with the strict gender role of women during the Shakespearean period of history. Conventional females were considered to be second class citizens who were expected to refrain in conveying their natural feelings and emotions. Women were also socially neglected, as they were expected to remain at home whilst their respective husbands ensured the upkeep of the family by managing the family finances. The male population at this point in time ignorantly viewed women as coy, innocent characters, seemingly unaware that women had the same feelings and emotions as themselves. In Elizabethan society, the majority of marriages were arranged. Property and power were two main factors which influenced negotiations for marriage between the two families of the bride and groom. As the bride was unable to provide land, she was expected to take a substantial amount of money to the marriage, which in turn, was given to the father of the groom. In this respect, daughters were considered to be a financial burden on their parents, hence their decision to get their daughter married into a wealthy family as soon as they could. ...read more.

Middle

Juliet trusts her Nurse and relies on her advice and understanding nature. In Act 4 Scene 3, when Juliet begins to worry about whether or not to take the potion, she asks herself, 'Nurse, what should she do here?' The character of Nurse is based on the stock figure of the obscene old woman, a common character in the time of Shakespeare. Ironically, Shakespeare has given Nurse the name of Angelica, meaning 'angel'. Contrastingly, the Nurse's language is full of very 'unangelic', broad humour and sexual references. In Act 1 Scene 4, the Nurse tells Juliet that when she is older and wiser, she would 'fall on her back', i.e she should be looking forward to the pleasures of sexual intercourse. 'Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit, wilt thou not Jule?' Act 1 Scene 3 It is the Nurse, not Lady Capulet who shows the necessary motherly love and affection to Juliet, as shown with the 'pet' names the Nurse has for Juliet, such as 'lamb' and 'ladybird'. She also has the attributes of a modern day parent - embarassing Juliet with tales of her youth. 'But as I said, when it did taste the worm- wood on the nipple of my dug, and felt it bitter, pretty fool, to see it tetchy, and fall out with the dug.' ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Romeo's love matures and he is much more of an unconventional lover. Romeo openly tells of his feelings for Juliet in a meaningful passionate manner. In Act 1 Scene 3, we see the Nurse, Lady Capulet and Juliet, and a unique distinction in the type of language used between the three characters. This is known as iambic pentameter which Shakespeare uses to differentiate between his intelligent and uneducated characters - in this case, Juliet and Lady Capulet, compared with the Nurse. 'Juliet: And-stint-thou-too-I-pray-thee-Nurse-say-I Nurse: Peace I have done: God mark thee to his grace Lady Capulet: Mar-ry-that-mar-ry-is-the-ve-ry-theme.' Act 1 Scene 3 In the infamous 'balcony scene', a great deal of imagery is used. Firstly, imagery of light and seeing is important to the context of the scene. For example, Romeo is intoxicated by his passion for Juliet but she says 'it is too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden', like the lightning in a storm. In a way, Juliet is correct because their love will indeed be like a brief wondrous flash of light in the darkness of the feud between their two respective families, and their love is also potentially fatal. Also, the imagery of growth is used in this scene. In Juliet's word, their 'bud of love' may become a 'beauteous flower' when they were next to meet, if the 'summer's ripening breath' is breathed upon it. ...read more.

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