Patriarchy in Romeo and Juliet

1718 WordsJan 18, 20067 Pages
In a patriarchal society, women are expected to conform to social restrictions by demonstrating reverence and obedience to the males in their lives. Shakespeare's tragic play, Romeo and Juliet, explores the effects of patriarchal authority exerted over women and how the patriarchal structure left no escape from it, save death. Through Juliet, Lady Capulet, and the Nurse, Shakespeare establishes a common understanding of this type of society, but illuminates three different reactions to the social oppression by portraying the responses of a passionate lover, an idyllic housewife, and an attendant. Juliet is introduced into the play in act one scene three, as an innocent, obedient, and respectful adolescent. Her polite response to her…show more content…
The idyllic housewife, Lady Capulet, is a loving, virtuous, and obedient wife who is completely supportive of her husband's wishes above the well-being of her daughter. Throughout the entire play, Lady Capulet is an extension of her husband, promoting his judgments and requests. She acts as his ambassador when she informs Juliet of Paris' desires and intentions. Comparing Juliet to other girls her age already married, Lady Capulet encourages her to "love the gentleman" (1.3.81) and to "behold him at [the] feast" (1.3.82). As she talks highly of Paris, she fulfills her motherly duties by giving her tips on how to find love with a man (1.3.83-86). Lady Capulet then disappears until act three scene four, where Capulet instructs her with direct orders to go to Juliet and "prepare her" for her "wedding day" (3.4.31-32). Immediately, Lady Capulet submits to his authority and carries out the order. When Juliet claims she is not well, Lady Capulet scolds her for lamenting too long over Tybalt's death. She tells her that a reasonable amount of grieving is a sign of love, but too much is foolish. Lady Capulet remains conservative in the advice she gives to her daughter, no doubt with her husband's wishes in mind. She chooses not see her daughter's pain in deference to her husband's wishes.

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