The Treatment of Women in Romeo and Juliet Essay

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Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet in the 16th century, at a time where the role of the woman was to be subservient to men and act as a wife to their husband and a mother to their children. Women were expected to conform to the expectations of society, and were seen as possessions by their fathers and husbands. Fathers arranged their daughters’ marriages, usually for financial or social gain for the family. In Romeo and Juliet, the unfair treatment of women is conveyed through characters such as Juliet, a young girl who is growing into the expectations of society, and Lady Capulet, who represents a traditional side of love and values social position rather than men themselves. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet centres on the relationship…show more content…
Capulet treats Juliet well and appreciates her wishes, not wanting to marry her off too soon because he wants her to be ready in mind and body, unlike Paris, who says ‘Younger than she are happy mothers made’, which suggests that Paris is quite forceful about marrying Juliet and having children with her, and has no regard for her youth. Young women could also be harmed if they were not ready to bear children, which shows that the treatment of women was harsh and that their ability to produce children was more important than their health. Capulet is very complimentary to females, and calls them ‘earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light’, using a beautiful metaphor and contrast between dark and light to show he appreciates women. This shows us that Capulet is very admiring of attractive females and compares them to nature. In the opening lines of Act 1 Scene 3, it is implied that there is a stronger bond between Juliet and the Nurse than Juliet and her own mother, from the fact that Lady Capulet calls on the Nurse and asks ‘Nurse, where’s my daughter?’ This implies that Lady Capulet relies on the Nurse to tell her where Juliet is, and is an ineffectual mother. The Nurse provides a humorous anecdote from Juliet’s childhood, remembering how she fell over on her face, and how her husband had commented ‘Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit.’
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