The Typical Roles that Men and Women Were Supposed to Follow in Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet Tragic Love Play

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In Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet love play, there is a showcase of the typical roles that men and women were supposed to follow. Both Romeo and Juliet are victimized because they are forced to follow the strict lines of the patriarchal society they live in. Mercutio is supposed to be masculine, powerful, and defend the honour. Juliet, on the other hand, the only role in life was to please her parents, portray her beauty, and please the men in her life. Thus, both Romeo and Juliet have to struggle with the people around them because they are not acting within their respective gender roles. Juliet is expected to agree to the expectations of society and is seen as possessions by her father and future husband. Paris asks Capulet, 'But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?”. 

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Here Capulet and Paris are discussing Juliet’s possible marriage without consulting her, perhaps implying they think she is too naïve to decide on her future. They are arranging her marriage for her, which indicates that men were very controlling over women’s lives, especially those of their daughters. As a daughter, she is expected to be completely malleable to their will and show total obedience to then. This is evident when Juliet admits the power of the influence of her parents when she says of Paris, “I look to like, looking liking move; / But no more deep will I endart mine eye / Than your consent gives strength to fly”.

 The specter of parental influence is very evident in this scene and it shows the influence of the society that they lived in. However, Juliet starts to show strength and intelligence that can be interpreted as a sort of passive resistance that at the end of the play ends her life. Capulate exerts his parental control by threatening Juliet by saying, “hang, beg, starve, die in the streets.' (3.5193) The quotation further implies the amount of possession power Capulate has over Juliet. All the men in Juliet's life treat her in a sexist way throughout the play. As a woman, Juliet is required to adapt to the expectations of society in order to uphold a good reputation. 

Men are also pressured to maintain a good reputation. Romeo is supposed to be masculine, powerful, and defend the honour. Anything less than boldness is not considered to be male. One of Romeo’s best friends, Mercutio, suggests, “If love be rough with you, be rough with love; / Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down”. Mercutio embraces the stereotype for men to constantly be above the emotions of weakness. Detachment is necessary so as not to allow one to be overpowered by something such as love. This is shown when Romeo is crying because of the loss of his best friend and his execution form the village. Friar Lawrence is displeased by Romeo’s cowardice. This becomes clear when Friar Lawrance scolds Romeo, “Hold thy desperate hand. Art thou a man? 

Thy form cries out thou art.” Friar Lawrance is harsh when he notices Romeo in such emotional devastation because he believes such feelings are not portrayed by men. Mercutio is upset at Romeo for not fitting back. Romeo and Juliet have no real place in the authoritarian cities of Verona nor one in this century, except to advise that, even in the greatest of societies, some must ache while others are in fortune.   

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