Romeo and Juliet’s decisions ultimately lead to their deaths. There are many factors that need to be considered when examining the reason for their deaths. The time period’s gender roles are a big factor, as well as the people and surroundings of Romeo and Juliet. Women’s expectations then are very different than those of today. Same for the men; they had different expectations than nowadays. The surroundings of Romeo and Juliet and the way they were raised can also affect the decisions they made that lead to their deaths. Gender roles of the time and the surroundings of Romeo and Juliet effected their outcome because of the expectations and their decisions, as well as the time period, eventually lead to their death.
The way women were treated and their expectations at the time were very different compared to those of the present. This influenced Juliet’s decision making and outcome. Very early in the play, it shows how men thought of women. Most, if not all of page seven of?Romeo and Juliet, shows how women were treated and viewed by men. A piece of text that shows this is page seven when Gregory says, “That means you’re the weak one, because weaklings get pushed up against the wall.” Sampson responds by saying, “You’re right. That’s why girls get pushed up against walls-they’re weak.” (Shakespeare) As a result of women being seem as weak, Juliet may have wanted to show men otherwise when she made some of the decisions, such as marrying Rome without her parents’ permission. She may have thought that some of the expectations of the time were unreasonable and unfair towards the women. On page 59, Capulet says, “Welcome, gentlemen. The ladies who don’t have corns on their toes will dance with you. Ha, my ladies, which of you will refuse to dance now? Whichever of you acts shy, I’ll swear she has corns.” (Shakespeare) He is forcing the women to dance by swearing that they have corns if they don’t dance. This is another example of women’s gender expectation of the time. Only the women were discussed and insulted, not the men. Gender expectations at the time were not favored towards women to any extent and this altered some of Juliet’s decisions.
The male gender expectations of the time would affect Romeo’s decisions and outcome. Men during Romeo and Juliet’s time period were expected to always act tough and show as little emotion as possible. They were taught that showing emotion showed that you were weak, and cowardly. Friar Lawrence and Romeo were discussing Romeo’s past love for Rosaline and Friar Lawrence said, ‘I scolded you for obsessing over her, not for loving her, my student.” Romeo responded by saying, “And you told me to bury my love.” (Shakespeare) Friar Lawrence telling Romeo to bury his love for Rosaline shows that during this time, it was best for men to hide their emotions, rather than show them or tell others. On page 9, Gregory says to Sampson, “How will you back me up-by turning you back and running away?” (Shakespeare) By saying this, Gregory indirectly tells Sampson that he mustn’t be cowardly and that he needs to stand up and “be a man.” This is another example of the expectations of men. Men can show emotion more emotion now, than they could back then. Romeo’s decisions were affected by the male gender expectations of the time, mainly the lack of emotion they must show.
Juliet’s surroundings and her upbringing affected the decisions and choices she made. Marrying young had a large impact and the entire situation. On page 29, Capulet, discusses Juliet’s marriage situation with Paris and says, “She’s not even fourteen years old. Let’s wait two more summers before we start thinking she’s ready to get married.” Paris responds by saying, “Girls younger than she often marry and become happy mothers.” The age expectancy during the time period of Romeo and Juliet was much lower than it is nowadays due to the advancement of technology and medication. Juliet felt pressured to marry and wanted to marry someone who loved her, and she loved back, Romeo, rather than someone who loved her, but she didn’t love back, Paris. Juliet’s decisions were also affected by her mother’s parenting style. Her mother was uninvolved, and the Nurse acted as her mother more than her biological mother did. Number four in the article “4 Types of Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Kids: What’s Your Parenting Style?” is Juliet’s mother’s parenting style. The article says, “They usually don’t devote much time or energy into meeting children’s basic needs,” and “Uninvolved parents tend to have little knowledge of what their children are doing.” Juliet’s mother hired the Nurse right after Juliet was born, and the Nurse and Juliet became close. The mother and Juliet didn’t become close because she wasn’t there for her the way the nurse was. This led to Juliet feeling rebellious and marrying Romeo instead of Paris without her mother’s approval. Juliet’s decisions were affected by her mother’s uninvolved parenting style and the time period’s expectation to marry young.
Romeo’s surroundings, as well as the people he was around, affected his decisions and outcome. He friends and the people who helped him altered his opinions and thoughts. Romeo and Juliet’s decisions and outcome would have been much different if the two families didn’t have a feud. On page 83, Romeo says, “I hate my name, dear saint, because my name is your enemy. If I had it written down, I would tear up the paper.” Juliet responds by saying, “Aren’t you Romeo? Aren’t you a Montague?” Romeo answers with, “I am neither of those things if you dislike them.” (Shakespeare) The two teenagers would have been able to be together, happily, if they weren’t raised to hate each other’s families. They would have had different opportunities and their lives wouldn’t have ended. Romeo’s friends also affected their outcome. Benvolio tells Romeo to forget about Rosaline and look at other girls to do so. They go to a Capulet party together and Romeo meets Juliet. Benvolio alters Romeo’s opinions and outcome by teaching him to forget about Rosaline. Romeo’s situation and his friends affected his decisions and outcome drastically.
While gender expectations and nurture affected Romeo and Juliet’s decisions and outcome, it could be argued that nature had more of an effect than nurture. Teenage brains are not fully developed, therefore, can lead to decisions that may not make as much sense to adults as they do to teens. An article by Hannah Osborne says, ‘There are numerous studies showing impulsivity in adolescents and this often results in the partaking in high-risk behavior.” (Osborne) Another article by FRONTLINE producer Sarah Spinks says, “The teens seemed not only to be misreading the feelings on the adult’s face, but they reacted strongly from an area deep inside the brain.” (Spinks) These statements show that the undeveloped brain of a teenager can lead to them making decisions that may be risky or absurd. An example of this would be when Juliet faked her death, when there were other, more safe options to solve her problem. In Kathryn Mallari’s summary of Sigmund Freud’s main theories, she states, “The concept of the unconscious was central to Freud’s view of the mind. He believed that the majority of what we experience day-to-day (the emotions, beliefs and impulses) takes place in the unconscious and is not viewable to us in the conscious mind.”(Mallari) This means that our emotions and impulses aren’t something we can control, but something that just happens. Similarly, Romeo and Juliet didn’t think about their decisions because of their immature brains and unconscious thinking. Romeo and Juliet’s outcome could be argued to be because of their mature rather than gender and nurture.
In conclusion. Romeo and Juliet’s decisions and outcome were majorly affected by gender expectations and their surroundings because of the role they played that lead to their death. Both men and women’s gender expectations of the time were different than they are now. That, as well as surroundings of Romeo and Juliet caused a tragic outcome for the two teenagers. If the families didn’t have a feud or if the gender expectations were different, Romeo and Juliet might not have killed themselves.
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