Agency In Romeo And Juliet And West Side Story

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While looking through a feminist lens and reading/watching both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, one notices a lot about women. How they are depicted, how they’re treated, and what opportunities they’re given. However, the question most observed in both stories is how much agency they have. Agency is defined as the ability to change their circumstances and when analyzing text in a feminist perspective, women often have little to no agency. From a feminist literary lense, both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story depict female characters with agency stripped from them. Provided that every story has a main character, or main characters, they are the first to be analyzed. In the play, Juliet faced many situations where her power was taken …show more content…

As Juliet, Maria has a father figure, but instead, it’s her older brother Bernardo. He’s the leader of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks and is both mentally and physically tough. However, he is highly protective over his sister and makes sure that she knows her place in both the family and community. Maria titled him as a silly watchdog and in response he said, “Ah, my sister is a precious jewel!” (WSS). Though Maria is younger than her brother and does need to be looked after she has little freedom of action or opinion. Bernardo often made statements that she wasn’t allowed to disagree with him, adding to her essentialism. This can been seen near the start of the movie as Maria is trying on her dress for the dance. Since she is hardly coming of age, she must wear white and the neck must be high up on her chest. Though these small side notes didn’t affect the overall plot of the story, they added to character development. The viewers then see Maria as innocent and almost childish. Though another scene occured after Bernardo came home from the dance. That night Maria had caused conflict because she danced with Tony, from the rival gang, enraging Bernardo. He told her what her expectations were and that she was from now on to stay within the gang. Just to add the the stress of Maria, he also added in to consider Chino as her significant …show more content…

Shakespeare created Romeo and Juliet in the 16th century, when women were subservient and were only supposed to act as a wife and mother. This was a struggle for the Nurse since she had no husband nor children of her own, so instead, she tried her best to take care of Juliet more than Lady Capulet. But, in that event she didn’t gain any superiority and her title was what everyone saw her as. Simply because she was never given any real name, she was looked down upon by others. Similarly, in West Side Story, both Annita and Anybodys faced their fate. Annita was Bernardo’s girlfriend, which oddly gave her a higher status, though still not over the men. At times when her and Bernardo were arguing, he would slip in a small, but important, remark targeting her gender. In the scene where the Sharks sang, “America” and Annita and the other girls sang about how wonderful the laundry machines were, it makes the viewers think that that’s what the women find most enjoyable when they get the chance to be free. Bernardo is upset with her and argues, “Ah, back home women know their place,” (WSS). Once this was said much was realized. By piecing small symbols like lyrics to an upbeat song, womens agency can be seen as non existent even to people who mean everything to them. Anita herself even states “I am his and everything he is,” (WSS) as she

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