In "Romeo and Juliet," how do male attitudes contribute to the play's tragic ending?Which male character is most responsible for the tragic ending?

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malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Romeo and Juliet" is set in a very patriarchal society, where men had virtually complete control over their wives and daughters, and this can especially be seen in the relationship between Juliet and her father, Lord Capulet.

Capulet has decided that Juliet will marry Paris, a good man of their family and one who Capulet believes will be a good husband to her. This all seems really nice and loving on his part, and I suppose to some degree it is - he did want Paris to wait until Juliet was a bit older to make sure she was really ready to be a wife and mother, so he probably was concerned about her welfare.

However, this care and concern ended when Juliet defied him later in the play and begged to not have to marry Paris. She had already secretly married Romeo, and knew that if she was forced into this marriage with Paris, she would be committing a sin by being married to two men at once. Capulet exploded when she said she wouldn't marry Paris and threatened to disinherit her and kick her out of his house. At this point, Juliet was ready to do anything to be with Romeo and away from the parents who turned their backs on her.

This sense of loss - of knowing that her parents would only accept her as long as she did what they required of her - fueled the fire that led to the tragic ending of the play.

 

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Romeo and Juliet

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