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Shakespeare: relationships between men and women in Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing

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09/04/2013 11:44 Shakespeare?s plays present the relationships between men and women in various ways, as for example, Benedick is a supposed tyrant to women, while Romeo, a member of the Capulet household, is deeply in love with Juliet. Shakespeare makes the audience focus on how men and women portrayed themselves to society in the Renaissance period. Men and women in modern society are analogous to the men and women in Shakespeare?s plays as they use trickery, deception and secrecy throughout the plays to attempt to achieve a goal that inevitably interferes with the lives of others. However we can see that things have changed in society as Shakespeare?s time was predominantly patriarchal, not meritocratic. For example Hero, ironically named, is a very shy and weak woman who is the daughter of Leonato, whilst Beatrice is an exception to the typical patriarchal paradigm; she is noisy, sharp-tongued and greatly opinionated ? she isn?t afraid to contradict Benedick. This essay will discuss the portrayal of men and women and their relationships in Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet. * At the beginning of Romeo and Juliet ?Two households, both alike in dignity? shows that there will be a comparison of the men and women in two families which may possibly lead to a feud. In the renaissance period status was very important, and Shakespeare?s plays typically emphasized that as the audience at that time approved of it. The houses hold an ?ancient grudge? which implicitly reiterates the idea of conflict occurring throughout the play. ?Star-crossed lovers? suggest that there will be a great sense of romance throughout the play as a man and woman are destined to be together ? ?star crossed? which means, literally, against the stars (stars were thought to control people?s destinies). ...read more.


Dramatic irony is created for the audience as they?re aware that Juliet is married to Romeo, but her parents are not. It is assumed that Juliet will be happy at the thought of marriage, however she is in love with Romeo and is instead displeased. We can see this from ?He shall not make me there a joyful bride?. Additionally, even more irony is added to the scene as Juliet states ?It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate? which shows she is lying to her parents as she is obviously in love with Romeo, and is already his wife! Nevertheless she goes onto say that she would not be full of joy if she marries Paris. This results in her father calling her a ?minion? (low status) and ?Out, you green sickness, carrion? as he does not approve of Juliet?s refusal to marry Paris. ?To go with Paris to Saint Peter?s Church, or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither? shows that Juliet is still a woman in a male-dominated world, and that she cannot go against her father because it just simply wasn?t accepted as society was patriarchal. Her father becomes very violent and the relationship between Juliet and him is weakened as even the thought of disobeying her father?s wishes causes him to feel great anger and hatred as he cannot comprehend why she would not listen to him; it simply would not make sense to a man of his status and mentality as he would assume that Juliet must listen to him as she is a women, not a male, and not of status equal to him. ...read more.


* * Somewhat similar to the end of Romeo and Juliet, the ending of Much Ado About Nothing results in the renewal of the relationship between Benedick and Claudio as the two of them are now pleased to be relatives. Evidence for this can be seen from ?come, come, we are friends?. However, not all the relationships end up so happily: ?Prince, thou art sad, get thee a wife, get thee a wife? is said by Benedick to Don Pedro. This order serves partly as a joke, but it contains a drop of melancholy. Perhaps Don Pedro really is sad?an idea that seems even more probable when we recall his light-hearted, but perhaps not entirely joking, proposal to Beatrice, in Act two, scene one, and her gentle rejection of it. As so often happens in Shakespeare?s comedies, it seems as if somebody must be left out of the circle of happiness and marriage. Additionally the relationship of Don John is much more alienated from the nobles ? at the end of the play we are left only assuming what is going to happen ? this serves to satisfy the audience as they can create their own endings without truly ever knowing what was going to happen. * Overall, from the emotive struggle between Romeo and Juliet, the endless feud between Montagues and Capulets, the lies that created conflict for Claudio, and the tricks that caused Beatrice and Benedick to fall in love, Shakespeare, through his plays, has demonstrated the complexity of what happens when love and deception coincide in patriarchal societies. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ________________ * ________________ * ...read more.

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