Masculinity In Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

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In Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare tells the story of two “star crossed lovers” who meet their untimely demise after a feud in their families separates them and prevents them from being publicly married. This incredibly well known and famous tragedy touches on a variety of different issues including violence, parenthood, and teenage rebellion. However, the most prominent issue that Shakespeare inserts into his play is the notion of gender in society and its effect on men and women. During the time period in which the play was written, men and women held entirely traditional roles, which included a strong man who led his family at all costs and a submissive and weak woman who pursued only her husband’s needs and worked to meet his every…show more content…
Gregory and Sampson begin the play with a rousing and ultimately anger filled discussion of the quarrel between the Montague’s and Capulet’s. The opening scene serves as a base line for what masculinity is supposed to look like according to Shakespeare. Gregory and Sampson make aggressive comments including, “I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw,” (1.1.3) which shows the audience that men are expected to be violent for the sake of their masters, families, and wives. Later on in their conversation, another important expectation of men arises. Gregory makes a comment that shows the competition between men and the importance of not being perceived as feminine by saying, “That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest goes to the wall” (1.1.14-15) to which Sampson replies, “'Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall” (1.1.16-17). Sampson’s comment not only further emphasizes the necessity for strength in masculinity, but also points to the blatant abusive nature of men towards women during the time. The conversation then takes a turn and both of the men begin to sexualize women in a joking manner by making comments about rape and female virginity. The over-sexualization of the opening scene is important to note because Shakespeare allows the audience to understand the dichotomy between men and women even to the point of…show more content…
This description of a woman’s purpose is displayed early on in the play through Rosaline’s character. Rosaline, Romeo’s original downfall, is explained in terms of beauty and sexuality. The omission of descriptors that paint Rosaline as a person are important to notice as it showcases women as objects instead of people with feelings, emotions, and desires. Along with the omission of personal descriptors of Rosaline, many other characters showcase the oppressive nature of men upon women. Juliet’s mother, vaguely named “Lady Capulet,” serves as a teacher to Juliet of what it means to be a woman in marriage. She puts pressure on Juliet by

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