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What are men's attitudes towards women in Romeo and Juliet?How should I structure the...

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tiffanyliu | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 1, 2010 at 5:18 PM via web

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What are men's attitudes towards women in Romeo and Juliet?

How should I structure the question? Should I divide it into an inferior attitude (Capulet servants, Mercutio, Lord Capulet) and an idealization (Romeo)?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:15 PM (Answer #1)

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In writing an ssignment on men's attitudes towards women in the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, a lot depends upon the depth and scope of your background study. If you are compiling notes, or character sketches, I would keep it simple.

Go through the text, male character by male character. Note down whether the character expects of a female character (subservience, obedience, requited love,loyalty, faithfulness etc.) Be prepared to be unique and different however (add in characters such as Mercutio and the gang of guys who are making fun - such as when the Nurse crosses the square - they are not motivated by hurtfulness but humor yet their cruel remarks must be hurtful all the same.)

remember types of relationship too (father/daughter. husband/wife,employer/servant.)

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:45 PM (Answer #2)

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On the whole, men's attitudes towards women are often negative in this play (with the exception of Romeo).

Take a look at Lord Capulet to begin:

  • He tells his wife what to do. It's never really a discussion between the two of them. (i.e. he tells her to tell Juliet their decree about Paris)
  • He curses Juliet for having an opinion about who she wants to or doesn't want to marry. In fact, 3-4 times, he commits to kick her out if she doesn't obey.
  • When the Nurse tries to intervene in the discussion of marriage, Capulet cuts her off.

Mercutio:

  • His interaction with the nurse is extremely disrespectful to an elder. He calls her names and makes fun of her to the point that Romeo has to defend his running at the mouth friend.

Benvolio:

  • A good friend to Romeo, Benvolio offers great advice during Romeo's depression and offers to help Romeo examine other beauties. This is great, but reduces women to eye-candy.

I'm not sure what you are thinking about in reference to the Capulet's servants unless you are talking about the very beginning when they discuss cutting off the heads of the maids or taking their maidenheads. This is obviously degrading to women and demonstrates a significant difference in attitudes toward women then and today.

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