Social Expectations In Romeo And Juliet

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The societal roles and expectations forced upon Juliet regarding her identity impact her actions and decisions. Juliet’s expected contributions to society were based on her gender,her social class and family name, and her age.

Considerable expectations are placed on Juliet due to her gender. As a female, Juliet was expected to marry the man of her family’s choosing, granting her no control over her future. Capulet and County Paris discuss whether Juliet is fit to be a bride. Although age plays a factor in this decision, Capulet is deciding his daughter’s fate based on the expected gender roles of her being the sole female daughter of the family, “ She hath not seen the change of fourteen years;/Let two more summers wither in their pride/
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Paris is talking with Capulet, and saying that Juliet’s age should not stop her father from being married off, “Younger than she are happy mothers made” (1.2.12). Paris's argument to not wait for his and Juliet’s marriage is that there are many girls who are even younger than Juliet who are married and have already started a family. Juliet’s age puts her in a place where she is expected to contribute a child. This may be why she was in such a rush to get married to Romeo. Marriage of her choosing to Romeo prevents the marriage against her will to Paris. The influence placed on Juliet by her family is itself shaped by expectations of Juliet’s age group. When Juliet tells her father she does not wish to marry Paris, her father replies harshly commenting on her reasoning being due to her age, “A whining mammot, in her fortune’s tender/To answer I’ll not wed, I cannot love,/I am too young, I pray you pardon me” (3.5.185-187). Juliet’s father lacks empathy for Juliet’s position, and so continues to hold the high expectations that are required of her because of her age. Juliet never told her father she would not wed because of her age or her inability to love, so perhaps her father is projecting his guilt as he knows it is unreasonable to expect marriage and children from her when she is still so young and innocent. Juliet’s young age affects her maturity, which consequently influence the drastic and impulsive choices she made. When the Nurse agrees with Juliet’s parents about her marrying Paris, Juliet loses the one confidant she had. She depended heavily on the Nurse’s advice, as she herself lacked such wisdom. Her lack of maturity led her to make hasty decisions-choosing death as the easier way out, “Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain/I’ll too the friar, to know his remedy:/If all else fail, myself have power to die”
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