They f*** you up, your mum and dad Philip Larkin. To what extent is this true in Charles Dickens Hard Times and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare? Consider the methods used to present these views.

Authors Avatar by pseudonymegg (student)

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad” Philip Larkin. To what extent is this true in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare? Consider the methods used to present these views.

In both Hard Times by Dickens and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare tragedy in one form or another strikes the young characters. Most of the causes for this misfortune can be traced back to their infancy and parental figures. ‘Fuck’ is a mostly colloquial adjective which I interpret to mean having a negative effect, such an effect which permeates these two texts and their characters. It is quite possible to identify that the parental figures within both the play and novel, have ‘fuck(ed)’ up their children.

The existence of parents, whether distant or oppressive has obvious consequences in both texts. In Hard Times Louisa, who has been “nurtured” by her father, Gradgrind, through education and the undertaking of ‘ologies’, is presented by Dickens to be rather unfulfilled. Dickens explains that Louisa’s brother Tom’s ‘imagination had been strangled in his cradle’, much like Louisa’s has been. Dickens’ use of the word ‘cradle’ has both maternal and paternal connotations. However, using the violent word ‘strangled’ in the same paragraph suggests that The Gradgrinds are stifling of their children. In contrast, in Romeo and Juliet the lack of parental influence has graver consequences for both junior characters. Shakespeare uses the characters of Friar Lawrence and Nurse as a way of showing to the audience the metaphorical barrier that both Romeo and Juliet share with their parents. Both characters present themselves as surrogate paternal and maternal figures. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to present the strong connection Nurse has with Juliet and the wavering involvement of Lady Capulet. Lady Capulet believes Juliet is ‘weeping for (her) cousin’s death?’. However, the audience knows; as well as Nurse, that Juliet is actually ‘weeping’ because of Romeo’s departure. Marilyn Stasio reviewed the Broadway production and observed that ‘Jayne Houdyshell (Nurse) can be down-to-earth and kind of funny in this warm maternal role.’ This consideration furthers the argument that Juliet is lacking a relationship with her mother since Stasio described Nurse as ‘maternal.’ Their divided lives means Juliet cannot talk to her mother about her problems, consequentially she tries to solve them herself resulting in her death through lack of parental guidance. Montague is also distant from his son, Romeo. Shakespeare shows this as Montague does not know what is plaguing Romeo ‘I neither know it nor can learn of him’, ‘nor can learn’ suggests that Montague is not close enough with his son for Romeo to confide his feelings in him. Therefore when it is requisite that both children tell their parents of their love, in the hope Juliet does not have to marry Paris, they cannot because of their estranged relationship. This miscommunication leads to a deceptive plot by Juliet to trick her parents into believing she is ‘dead’ by drinking a ‘distilled liquor’ which would give this impression. Tragically, Romeo also believes her to be truly dead and kills himself, after seeing this Juliet joins him in ‘everlasting rest’.

Join now!

Despite the detrimental effects that the events in both novels have on the young protagonists, it is not to fair to attach full blame to the parents. Dickens uses sarcasm to display the irresponsibility of Signor Jupe, through the character of Bounderby. ‘A man so fond of his daughter, that he runs away from her!’ Dickens’ use of the exclamation mark adds a theatrical tone to this statement mirroring sarcasm. Ironically, this statement is probably true. The life Sissy lives without her father in Sleary’s circus is a far more enjoyable experience than that which she would have had living ...

This is a preview of the whole essay