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What was Shakespeare trying to say about the role of women, and how does he say it?

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Introduction

What was Shakespeare trying to say about the role of women, and how does he say it? During Shakespeare's time there was a system which divided the people - and the women - into different classes. Women from the classes were also treated differently - from each other and from present time. The population had two classes - the upper class and the lower class. Upper class women were effectively property of their father or their husband and they had no wealth of their own. On the other side of the scale were the lower class that could actually "own" property and wealth. One may state "Surely the lower class should be the upper as they have personal assets?". However the class was given owing to the fact the upper class women had a higher status in society. Women are portrayed in countless talented roles and Shakespeare hints at the roles of women behind the scenes. Each of the three leading women characters is different. The wife and family mother is portrayed by Lady Capulet - upper class. ...read more.

Middle

Modern day, we would expect the mother to have sympathy with Juliet and calm her, but being afraid, Lady Capulet decides to simply leave the situation and take neither her daughter or husband's side - "Do as thou wilt". The nurse also plays one of the main women characters in Romeo and Juliet. Her role in the family is to care for Juliet (like a modern day nanny) and Juliet may see her as the second, contrasting mother. Contrasting because she is in the opposite class to Lady Capulet - the lower class. The nurse also adds slight humour - In Act 2 Scene 4 she says "What saucy merchant was this that full of ropery?" - to the play, in which only her and Mercutio do this. It is a comedic role that a woman plays as well as a male counterpart. In the play it clearly shows that the nurse has a closer relationship with Juliet than her actual mother. An example of this is when we notice that Lady Capulet is finding it awkward talking to Juliet on her own in Act 1 Scene 3 and brings in the nurse even after being sent away ("We must talk in secret") ...read more.

Conclusion

to marry a husband of her father's choice. This wicked act was common in Elizabethan times. Throughout the play, Shakespeare draws attention to this many times because one of his points was that if Romeo had been allowed to continue a relationship with Juliet, there would be no violence. In the play she is owned by her father, Capulet, who transfers ownership of her to Paris. Juliet says that she can love Paris if her parents like - "I'll look to like" - and we can see this is logical for her as she was safeguarded from males except the ones in the family. When we look at Romeo, we can see Shakespeare making the point that men are usually to blame instead of the women. It's true that the men in the two families started the war, not the women. Romeo falls in love in with a younger girl who he has only just discovered; thoughtlessly sleeps with Juliet (so she is now not a virgin and cannot be married to Paris or any other 'gentleman'. Shakespeare enforces this point by making the male characters seem idle and have not much to do, and also brawl for the sake of it. ...read more.

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