Gender Analysis Throughout the Romeo and Juliets Love Story

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Life in Verona is based solely on male power or a patriarchal society, but to be a part of this society to be considered a man there needs to be specific traits to possess. However, Romeo challenges these patriarchal ideologies by taking on a more submissive and feminine role. Shakespeare makes the concept of masculinity and femininity as two binary oppositions, and both Romeo and Juliet love story show that these gender traits are accessible by both genders. Romeo’s language and poetic nature is more melancholy than that that of other male character's in the book such as Sampson who makes sexual jokes and uses violence as a way to prove their masculinity. Throughout the play, Shakespeare rejects all ideologies about a patriarchal society, and brings forth diversity within the idea that gender should be seen as a spectrum, and not two opposing sets of ideas.

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At the beginning of the play, Romeo as seen as a very passionate character from the very first time we saw him. With his lust for Rosaline, and then so forth his love for Juliet all show how much of a passionate romantic he really is. Whether he is angry, loving, or upset, the intensity of which he experiences emotions is very strong. In the beginning, he is depicted as being in love with Rosaline, but it is then revealed to the audience through his actions and quotes that he was more in love with the idea of loving someone, and for Rosaline he would not undergo the risks he takes with his friends, family, the law, fate, and avoiding an untimely death in which is inevitable for Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet challenge these traditional ideas in the way their proxemics are depicted. In Act II, Scene II, Romeo is seen below Juliet which gives the audience the idea that he is inferior to her when traditionally, it would be the male up on the balcony. Romeo describes Juliet as an angel, which is a heavenly figure above him, and this is him upholding his submissive nature towards Juliet. Romeo also speaks of changing his name “I take thee at thy word: Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; Henceforth I never will be Romeo.” Traditionally in a marriage, it is the woman who changes their name to that of the husband, this once again proves Romeo as the submissive role.

As was said before, characters such as Sampson explore the idea of a male that conforms to the roles of a patriarchal society. When Sampson says “My naked weapon is out. Quarrel! I will back thee” Here Sampson is proving his masculinity by mentioning violence, and being willing to fight, and his sexual jokes referring this to something more of aggression rather than love and pleasure. Physical violence is equated with forceful sexuality, and both are proof of manliness. This is a contrast to Romeo’s more submissive, and romantic character. The juxtapositioning of these characters proves that although this stereotypical patriarchal society exists, these traits are only one layer to the many traits a male can undergo, and due to Elizabethan expectations they feel pressure to conform to these requirements. A character such as Tybalt, too is so caught up in his notion of honour, and family, and being the best that he feels the need to counterargue every little thing that is said to him, and if he doesn’t then his reputation as this strong man is in danger of being ruined. 

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