Womens Rights In Romeo and Juliet

In Romeo and Juliet, women have minor roles in the society. Throughout the play, Women’s rights have been resembled in many parts of this play. Shakespeare, the writer of the play, wrote this story in the 16th century. Typically in the 16th century, women had little or no say in anything they did. They were expected to be obedient and followers of men in their families. Women basically acted as just “mothers” who supported and took care of their children. For example, “True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, is ever thrust to the wall---“(Act 1 Scene 1). This specific quote resembles the way men viewed women back then. They viewed them as being weaker and unable to do any masculine jobs.

Despite the unfair stereotypes between men and women, women also had little rights in choosing their husbands. Marriages were usually arranged by the families of the bride and the groom in order for both sides to benefit from one another. In Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers’ families disliked one another, which was one of the reasons they could not be together. "But, an you will not wed, I'll pardon you./ Graze where you will, you shall not house with me." /"An you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,/ For by my soul, i'll ne'er acknowledge thee,/ Nor what is mine shall never do thee good." (Act 3 Scene 5). This specific quote was said by Capulet; Juliet’s father. He’s basically stating that if Juliet refuses to marry Paris, he will completely abandon her and have nothing to do with her from that point forward. This shows that women really did not have any say back then. Even though Juliet wanted to marry Romeo; her parents refused to let her do so.

Lastly, during the 16th century, both men and women had their own specific gender roles. Males were supposed to act more controlling and masculine, while women acted more obedient towards their husbands/fathers and very lady-like. Shakespeare had a discreet way of representing these roles for each character. For example, women in the 16th century were supposed to be “quiet and disobedient” which is exactly how Juliet acted for a good portion of the play. However, at the end of the play she reflects on the plan to kill herself instead of facing the dangers of the situation she was going through. "My dismal scene I needs must act alone." (Act 4) This displays the weak side of a female which is how women really acted back then. In conclusion, women had very few rights back in the 16th century. Shakespeare provided the reader with examples of women’s’ rights to guide us to the true reason why Romeo and Juliet’s relationship led to a big tragedy.


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1.One of the servants of the Capulets, Sampson, boasts to another, “’Tis true, and therefore women, being the / weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall; therefore I / will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust / his maids to the wall” (Shakespeare 1.1.15-18). This distinctly shows the enforced concept of dominance. Men from opposite sides are meant to be defeated through fighting duels, and women are objects to conquer and overpower to sate sexual desires. Primal nature and instinct tend to be initiated without second thought of morality and consequence. Anything less than boldness is not considered to be male.

2.Sampson also challenges, “Draw, if you be men” (1.1.62) feeding upon societal standards and teasing his opponent with the idea that he is less than a man if he does not respond and fight.

3.He puts himself below her both literally and figuratively in a gesture of submission, especially during the balcony scene. “O, speak again, bright angel, for thou art / As glorious to this night, being o’er my head, / As a winged messenger of heaven” (2.2.26-28). A Veronese male would never dream of considering himself below a woman, nor would he want to worship her like Romeo does Juliet.

4.While the pair exchanges vows of love, it is Romeo who revokes his name: “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz’d; / Henceforth I never will be Romeo” (2.2.50-51). This act of giving up his name for his love is non-traditional, even in the standards of today.

5.Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother, also presses forth the expected honor of women saying, “Here in Verona, ladies of esteem, / Are already made mothers. By my count, / I was your mother much upon these years” (1.3.70-72). A girl is quickly transferred from the house of her parents to the house of her husband without any chance of independent thought, action, or growth.

"Womens Rights Current Global Issues Video Presentation." YouTube. YouTube, n.d.                   Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

"Romeo and Juliet (1968) First Kiss." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

"Balcony Scene from Romeo & Juliet." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

Symbol for Womens Rights

This symbol defines the women's role in Romeo and Juliet because Romeo is defined as the knife or the leading role and Juliet is symbolized as the rose which is wrapped around the knife so as to look like it belongs to the knife. This shows that the women are less superior to men as a rose is less than a knife.

Modern Day Uses of Womens Rights

"Biography - FB - Betty Friedan - Modern Women's Rights Activist - ERA Champion."              YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

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