Gender Roles In Romeo And Juliet (Essay Sample)

In Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare focuses on the love life between the two characters and the ensuing family conflict among the clans. When Romeo and Juliet fall in love, they had to hide their feelings to avoid escalating the feud between their families. The men have to fight for love and win in the story. One of the clearest gender roles, then is fighting and bravery and those who failed to do this were seen as being effeminate Romeo sought to kill for Mercutio for honor, after his murdered by Tybalt, and Romeo decided to kill Tybalt instead to keep his family honor.

Another gender role is that the women sought to follow what their male relatives said. Juliet was expected to obey her father’s wishes even as she sought to continue relationship with Romeo. The men in turn expected that the women were there to meet their needs and make them happy. The society expected that the women could not question their father’s wishes, and Juliet’s father not only sought to dominate hear but other women including Juliet’s mother.  women and girls had few options on whether to challenge their families for controlling their lives as they were expected to stay at home, and had few places to go to if they wanted independence.

Another aspect of gender roles is that the marriage life where here are clearly defined roles for men and women. For the male members was expected that they would be the providers and own most of the possession in the family. On the other hand, the women were expected to follow their husband’s wishes and mainly stay at home.   The men also controlled people in the family and the women were expected to be modest. This contrasts with men who could engage in illegitimate relations without facing much condemnation, even when the females were expected to be chaste in and outside marriage.

While there were strict gender roles, Shakespeare also tried to highlight the absurdity of societal expectations. For instance, Rome was called to be more aggressive by his peers, but he was reluctant at first and this made them consider him feminine. Males were expected to be pro-active in pursuing girls and what they wanted, but Juliet appeared to be more quick thinking and made firm decisions.  The pressures on both Romeo and Juliet to conform  to the society’s expectation created tension, as both were required to be married, but not to each other.   Such pressures affect the lives of Romeo and Juliet who try to conform to the traditional gender roles as Romeo gets into a fight to fight for honor, but in the process makes rash decisions.

Juliet seemed to have been wary that conflict would linger for long than expected and to avoid the conflict she decides she was better off dead. The place of women in the society was associated with their roles in the homestead and not in public life as is the case with men. This also plays out when both characters are nearly dead and Romeo takes the poison, and he did not choose to die in a heroic manner like other males. On the other hand, Juliet stabbed herself, and it would be expected that she would choose a less painful way to die. There is extreme pressure on Romeo and the men in the play to display their masculinity, as they are deemed worthy of being men when they display these features.  As the Romeo and Juliet are different from what the society expected of them they had to be more secretive when interacting.  The stereotypical males are domineering while the stereotypical females are submissive and inferior to their husbands.

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