In the society in which Juliet from Romeo and Juliet lived, why was it important for a woman to marry someone of the right class or who met with her parents approval?

In the society in which Juliet from Romeo and Juliet lived, the class divide and the lack of ability of a woman to earn her own living or control her own body made it important for a woman to marry someone of her own class or who met with her parents' approval.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In both Elizabethan England and sixteenth century Verona, a large divide between the classes and the lack of ability of a woman to earn her own living or control her own body made it important for a woman to marry someone of her own class or who met with her parents' approval.

Juliet illustrates many of the difficulties facing a woman or girl in that time period. She is an aristocrat, the daughter of a lord, which means her family is living on landed wealth and is near the top of the social heap. She is used to living in comfort and having servants and is well educated (as her speech patterns show) with refined manners.

To come anywhere near having the lifestyle she has been bred to and is used to, she needs to marry the son of a nobleman, such as Romeo, or at the very least, a wealthy man like a successful merchant. Such a person might be below her in class, but wealth—and whatever education and attributes the merchant had attained—could smooth over difficulties.

We cannot, however, easily imagine her marrying someone, say, of her nurse's servant class: we see the striking difference between Juliet and her nurse. Juliet is embarrassed by her nurse's bawdy humor and infuriated by her peasant practicality in suggesting that Juliet commit bigamy with Paris and forget Romeo. A male counterpart of the nurse would make Juliet's life a misery—and in addition, she has not been brought up to work.

We see firsthand the difficulties Juliet faces marrying even a lord's son without her parents' approval. Though Lord Capulet is a loving father, he feels he has a full right to dispose of her in marriage however he sees fit, whether she likes it or not. Telling her father of her marriage to Romeo leaves her at risk of being thrown out of her home with no money and no respectable way to earn it, a situation that would have been awkward for her, to say the least.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial