Essay on Gender roles in Shakespeare

This essay has a total of 854 words and 3 pages.

Gender roles in Shakespeare


Throughout Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, there is an overlaying presence of
the typical roles that men and women were supposed to play. During Elizabethan times there
was a major difference between the way men and women were supposed to act. Men typically
were supposed to be masculine and powerful, and defend the honor. Women, on the other
hand, were supposed to be subservient to their men in their lives and do as ever they
wished. In Romeo and Juliet the typical gender roles that men and women were supposed to
play had an influence on the fate of their lives.

The beginning of Act one opens with a brawl in the street between the servants of the
Capulets and the Montagues. The origin of the fight introduces the important theme of
masculine honor. Sampson, one of Capulets servants, shows this masculinity by saying,
"Draw, if you be men." (I.i.64). Later on in the play in Act II, scene i. the display of
honor and masculinity comes up again during the fight between Mercutio and Tybault. As
Mercutio lay slain Romeo says to him, "Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much." (III.i.96).
Even as his friend is dying the two men try and act masculine because they did not want to
show their fears. But on the other side of this masculinity is love. For Elizabethan
society believed that a man who loved too much lost his masculinity. Romeo clearly
subscribes to that belief when he states that his love for Juliet made him "effeminate."

During Elizabethan times women did not have much power over their lives. They typically
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