In today’s world, gender expectations and roles of men and women are a highly debated topic. However, the reconsidering of these expectations is not a new phenomenon. Set in Verona, Italy, the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare explores the reversal and fluidity of characteristics usually assigned to a specific gender. In this play, two young people fall in love and end up tragically taking their lives as a result of their forbidden love. Shakespeare suggests that men are not necessarily masculine, women are not necessarily feminine, and that when people are forced by society to act the way their gender is “supposed” to, problems will arise.
After Romeo meets his supposed destined lover, Juliet, he returns to talk to his friends Mercutio and Benvolio after planning his marriage. Mercutio notices and points out Romeo’s new, content behavior in contrast to his old, joyless attitude: “Why is not this better than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo, now art thou what thou art - by art as well as by nature” (2.4.90-93). Although Mercutio believes Romeo’s change in etiquette is caused by the absence of love, it is in fact the presence of it. Mercutio observes that something has made Romeo much happier, and it is indeed Romeo’s previous encounters with Juliet that have created this effect of increased contentment.
Young men’s love then lies / Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes” (Shakespeare 2.3.65-68). Friar Laurence strongly disapproves here, before reluctantly agreeing to marry Romeo and Juliet in secret. “Is she [Juliet] a Capulet? / O dear account! My [Romeo’s] life is my foe’s debt” (Shakespeare 1.5.117-118).
The audience is able to see both of the lovers, but Juliet is not aware of Romeo’s presence. Both of them are insecure about the relationship. For once Juliet does not feel completely ready it is “too rash, too unadvised, too sudden” and “too like the lightning, which doth cease to be ere one can say ‘It lightens’.” (Act 2 Scene 2) for her. Juliet feels too overwhelmed by the sudden affection which is just like a lightning stroke. Yet Shakespeare displays an emancipatory access to woman kind, portrayed as Juliet, due to the reason that she stands up for her own created problems and in the long run matures as a self-confident woman.
In conclusion, Shakespeare’s use of celestial imagery during the speech Romeo makes to Juliet displays Romeo’s inner universe of which he is the heart; the center that controls the other parts of the body or in this case celestial bodies. In his selfish nature, he exposes his ignorance towards his need to possess power over Juliet, too arrogant to even realize his own objectification of her. Ultimately, Romeo indirectly offers Juliet an ultimatum, her voice, her vulnerability and her freedom in exchange for not his vows of love, but of lust. Unlike Romeo’s definition of love, true love is when a person realizes that someone else 's happiness deserves to be greater than their own. It’s when someone morphs you into a better person, without forcing you to give up any part of yourself.
Shakespeare's Othello is set during the Renaissance period and therefore the roles of the women in Othello are supposedly bounded by the period when women are considered to be of low intellect. In Othello, most male characters assume that women are inherently promiscuous, which explains why all three women characters in the play are accused of sexual infidelity. Yet Shakespeare develops the women to speak the most sense throughout the play and able to trust other characters in the play. To the men in Othello, female sexuality is a threatening force more than it is an attractive one. Shakespeare cheapens Othello by lowering his standard with impertinent language.
After Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to marry himself and Juliet, Romeo is highly ecstatic, translating to the mood of Mercutio. Contently, Mercutio teases “Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? ...for this drivelling love is like a great natural that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble…” (2.4.80-84). Shakespeare uses a simile to compare Romeo looking for love to a fool trying to hide his jester stick, proving that the static character of Romeo is enamoured again. This is dramatically ironic, as Mercutio does not know the truth behind Romeo’s estactiness.
Romeo is not similar to Tybalt, Mercutio, Benvolio, and every other male character in the play. Romeo is portrayed as a man who believes in love and acts upon his emotions. During most of the scenes, Romeo can be seen as “feminine” and
As Romeo and Juliet falls in love with each other within seconds, this displays the lack of development of the teenage brain and how it could cause Romeo and Juliet to fall victim to irrational, reward centered thinking. Juliet and Romeo 's decisions making exemplifies how the teenage brain is not yet fully developed. Still in act II Romeo and Juliet continue to act without thinking.
Ophelia is such a typical character representing for Shakespeare’s intelligence that throughout the play, she gradually becomes a smart woman. At the beginning of the play, Ophelia is an obedient daughter who always follows her family’s direction: “I shall obey, my lord” (Act 1, sc 4). However, at the end of the play, Ophelia is aware of everything that happens around her. She gives each person in the court different followers with the different meanings. Her action expresses that she is a clever woman.