The Failure of Society in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Length: 699 words (2 double-spaced pages)
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Romeo and Juliet - Failure of Society
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is not in the death of two young lovers, but the failure of society to overcome the social barriers that would have prevented the loss of so many innocent lives. Lord Capulet followed his social role of the father, and felt it was his duty as the man of the house to protect his family and their reputation. His wife, Lady Capulet, took it as her role to sit back and obey her husband, even if in the end it would mean the death of her only daughter. Friar Lawrence's role as a peacemaker lead him to see Romeo and Juliet's relationship and marriage as an opportunity to stop the family feuding than as two people.
Lord Capulet's idea if his own role in society leads him to be part of the cause of Juliet's death. Since the father of the house was supposed to protect not only the safety, but the pride of his family, he looked past the pain of his own daughter to fulfill this duty. He believed that Paris would be the right, and suitable bride for Juliet, and would bring riches and dignity to his family. As he told Juliet of this, she reacted in an angry and distasteful way since she loved Romeo, but he only saw her refusing to obey him and the chance that shame would be brought fourth onto his family. Lord Capulet didn't even let her tell why she did not want to marry Paris, but believed it was his social duty to either have her marry him, or marry nobody. Also, his social order was brought upon him as he fought with the Montagues, and promoted the feud between the two families to the kids. Lord Capulet was socially pressured to continue this age old feud because it had been going on for so long. Because of this, Romeo and Juliet felt they could not be known to be married, which eventually lead to each of their deaths.
Although Lady Capulet may have objected to the marring of Juliet with Paris, it was not her role to disobey her husband. Sadly, this move of loyalty cost her daughter her life.
The injustice of these social barriers would have not let her even object to the feud of the two families, in fear she may be banished or disowned. If maybe she would have spoke out, or at least listened to her daughter about not marrying Paris, maybe things would have not turned out as they did, and some lives would have been saved.
Friar Lawrence also plays a big part in this play, and his actions of what he perceives as his duty and role turn out to muddle things up in the end. He believes that his duty is to make peace between the two families, so when Romeo and Juliet come to him with answers, he has his own agenda. Because he is thought of as being the one that makes things right, he bring it upon himself to go against his values as a friar and to marry these two without his best judgment. Maybe if so much pressure was not put on him, he would have never married Romeo and Juliet, and no one would have died.
The social barriers and roles play a big part in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The reason why many things happen that aren't good for anybody is because of the barriers and expectances of adults to meet their social standards. Friar Lawrence is lead to go against his own judgment because of his job to keep the peace. Lord Capulet continues the feud, and ignores his own daughter because of the social pressures brought upon him to be the "man of the house." Lady Capulet is given no say in the actions of her husband, and no say in the marriage of Juliet because of her status as a wife and woman during that time period. If these barriers were not put in place, perhaps the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet may have not ended as it did.