Power Of Women In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

1081 words - 4 pages

     Female sovereignty was uncommon in Renaissance England. The social structure of the family assured the subjugation of woman under man. Daughters remained under the care of their fathers until they were married, at which time they became subject to their husband's authority. Economics ensured the wife's dependence on her husband. Unmarried and widowed women retained far more legal rights than married women, therefore, "for a woman, marriage meant the loss of her legal and economic rights, and therefore a dependence on the (chosen) man" (Motte 29). Even though marriage often meant a loss of legal rights, those daughters who had the good fortune to choose their mates faired better than those whose marriages were arranged. Arranged marriages most commonly occurred "among London-born daughters of gentlemen or wealthy tradesmen" while "marriages of personal choice took place farther down the social scale and were more egalitarian" (Diefendorf 669).

 

Property was a central concern in most marriages. Among the upper classes, marriage meant the transfer of a great sum of money through the dowry. Renaissance England lacked a well-defined mode of marriage. They followed canon law, which "declared marriage a sacrament dependent only upon the consent of the man and woman to be wed, secret marriages - marriages without the presence of parents or other witnesses and even without priests - were legal" (Diefendorf 670) and allowed for much ambiguity and personal freedom. Even though such marriages were legal, sanctions were often imposed against priests who performed secret ceremonies as well as the couple. Renaissance parents took preventative measures to ensure the security of the family name and property by invoking economic pressure on their children. The eighteenth century sought a remedy for these economic worries by imposing The Marriage Act of 1753, which standardized marriage practices. The standard upheld had been the normal marriage practice among the elite during the Renaissance. The act required that "'banns had to be published two weeks before the ceremony was to take place; second, that the marriage had to be solemnized in a parish church in the presence of a priest and two other witnesses; and third, that parental consent was necessary for persons under 21'" (Cacicedo 193). This practice ensured parental control over the couple and transfer of property.

 

Under this strict system, Renaissance marriage became a "system of fair market exchange" (Matchinske 156). The husband was expected to provide economically for his wife. In turn, the wife was obligated to render herself, her chastity, her silence, and her obedience unto her husband. Because of this system of exchange, "marriages of interest became the target of severe censure at the beginning of the century as a form of legalized prostitution" (Massai 71). Fathers exchanged their daughter's virginity for family connections, sons ...

Find Another Essay On Power of Women in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Love In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

3753 words - 15 pages Love In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet The legend of Romeo and Juliet had been popular for more than a hundred years; by the time Shakespeare wrote his play. Shakespeare's primary source for 'Romeo and Juliet' is a popular poem-'The tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet', by Arthur Brooke (1562). Brooke's poem is based on Luigi Da Porta's tale of Romeo and Giulietta. Da Porta was the first to insist that the

Language in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

2654 words - 11 pages Language in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet was written in the late 16th century by William Shakespeare, a time when the language was very different to the English we speak today. I have seen several different productions of Romeo and Juliet: Firstly, Baz Luhrmann's modern film, which I really enjoyed and easily understood. This was because Luhrmann's version transposed the action

Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

1769 words - 7 pages Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet When William Shakespeare wrote ‘Romeo & Juliet’ he told a tale of “A pair of star crossed lovers”. The role of fate plays an important role in the play. The themes of conflict, love, revenge, religion & destiny all tie in with the role of fate. Romeo & Juliet were both born into and “ancient grudge” fuelled by two formidable families, the Capulets and Montagues. Fate

Marriage in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

1191 words - 5 pages Whether it is the 1500s or the new millennium, love is still essentially the same although with some differences in customs. Romeo and Juliet is the very epitome of love in Shakespeare’s time. Marriage in Shakespeare’s time mostly served as a union of two parties interested in acquiring property, money or political alliances. Few ever married for love. Most girls were married at 14 or 15. In Shakespeare's famous play, Romeo and Juliet, the

Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

3736 words - 15 pages Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet A definition of fate would be the power that is supposed to settle ahead of time how things will happen. In the famous play Romeo and Juliet, written by Shakespeare, the two young lovers ended up becoming a large part of what could be called fate. This ultimate power seemed to control their lives and it forced them together. I think it was fate however which ended their

Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

1103 words - 4 pages      Fate, for better or worse, interrupts everyone’s daily life, whether he/she chooses to acknowledge it or not. Thinking about fate conjures up different feelings for different people; some people believe strongly in it, some people think of fate as ridiculous, and some do not care one way or the other. However, in many instances, such as in William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, far too many

Conflict in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

1251 words - 5 pages Conflict in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Conflict meaning 'a state of opposition or a fight or struggle' is used in all good dramas, old and new. It makes the drama interesting. Conflict is mostly used by dramatists and script writers to make audiences interested in the drama, tense and wonder what will happen next. The play 'Romeo and Juliet' has to have a conflict because; it is one of the main themes in the play. The

Tybalt in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

2457 words - 10 pages Tybalt in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet In the play "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare, Tybalt, the nephew of Capulet's wife (hence Juliet's cousin) is very close to the Capulet family and will therefore do anything to protect the family pride. Tybalt thinks that the Montagues are the canker of Verona ; he deems their mere presence in Capulet

Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

905 words - 4 pages In modern times, and in the Elizabethan era, fate plays an important role in people's lives. Many people believe it to be written in stone, and unchangeable. Many others believe it to be controlled by a person's own actions. In Romeo and Juliet, fate is one of the main themes, described as having power over many of the events in the play. Fate is often called upon, wondered about, and blamed for mishaps. However, where fate is blamed in the

Mercutio in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

903 words - 4 pages Mercutio in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Mercutio adds energy to the play yet ironically also hastens the tragedy with his impetuous actions. He has a vivid imagination and frolicsome personality with his name derived from the adjective 'mercurial'. This gives an excellent description of the young man's vibrant, quick-witted, volatile nature. His strong sense of humour often turns into bawdy innuendos; "open

Anger in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

567 words - 2 pages Does Romeo and Juliet show that good intentions are no match for anger? At the opening of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ we are told that, “Two households, both alike in dignity… From ancient grudge break to new mutiny.” This is the cause of both, Romeo and Juliet’s death and peace between the two families. Already, within the first three lines of the prologue, we are told what is going to happen. “A pair of star cross’d lovers take their life

Similar Essays

The Character Of Juliet In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

681 words - 3 pages The Character of Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet In the play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare reveals a complex character, Juliet, who has a multifaceted personality. Even so, the essence of Juliet's identify is her youth. Her inexperience gives her a lovable freshness. This is first demonstrated in the famous balcony scene when she is talking to herself. Her question, "What's in a name?" suggests a very childlike quality. It's

Fate In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

2958 words - 12 pages Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet 'Romeo and Juliet' takes place in Verona, Northern Italy. The city is divided by civil war between two noble families, the Capulets and the Montagues. The feud is an old one, from 'ancient grudge to new mutiny'. The cause of this 'ancient grudge' is not known; there seems no solution and just pure hate. Then out of this hate comes a 'pair of star-crossed lovers' to 'take

Fate In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet 2865 Words

2865 words - 11 pages Fate in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet The play, Romeo and Juliet, involves plenty of bad luck and misfortune that ultimately leads to the deaths of these star crossed lovers. Romeo and Juliet are referred to as, "star crossed lovers" because they were destined to fall in love and die a tragic death. The stars have decided that they would fall in love and die, with everyone else the stars have

Conflict In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

1959 words - 8 pages Conflict in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet is a tragic play about the love relationship between the young Romeo and Juliet, who belong to 2 ancient family names that hold a grudge against each other, the Montagues and the Capulets. There are also many other conflicts which ultimately stop Romeo and Juliet form being together. The story was written by the famous play writer, William Shakespeare