I have to write a essay on Romeo & Juliet and i am struggling with the culture paraghragh and what i can write about for their time the 1500s. Help would be great on what i can write in the paraghraph about the culture in Romeo & Juliet.
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Patriarchal values are certainly a motif of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Act III, Scenes 4 and 5 illustrate this motif as Lord Capulet callously demands that Juliet marry Paris despite her protestations. Obviously, too, the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets is refeuled by the patriarchs of the family as seen in Act I.
I agree with post 7 that women's rights, particularly a young girls rights, is important to understand. A woman like Juliet could not work. She would not have been taught any trade skills other than running a household. A wealthy woman would not have even know how to raise her children because there would have been a nurse and/or a governess. There were very few jobs open to woman at all and certainly less options for a woman of affluence. A woman was expected to marry and have children. Most fathers selected the husband for their daughters. Arranged marriages were common and never refused. While we may think Juliet was foolish for pretending to be dead when she could have simply run off, Juliet would have felt she had no options in the Elizabethan era.
The lack of rights of women and particularly of daughters when it came to marriage would be a key thing to focus on. Daughters such as Juliet did not marry for love back then. They were expected to marry who their parents told them to marry. Juliet was therefore very revolutionary in marrying for love.
I think that you should pay some attention to the idea of dynastic marriages and the expectation that children would marry whomever their parents told them to. Marriages were seen as a way to cement economic and political alliances between families, not as something that should be done out of love.
Another might be the social structure of the opposing "houses." Even into the 1500's there was a bit of vestigial Mediaeval society centering around the fortified castle, which was the anchoring force for the surrounding village., and its inhabitants, whether nobility or peasant. Both Romeo and Juliet came from the nobility, and would have had similar cultural experiences.
The world was a less populated place centuries ago. Even cities were more intimate, a fact which certainly comes into play in Romeo and Juliet.
If we look at culture as habits, morals, and values, maybe you can write about how a smaller community impacted inter-family relationships and how secrets were harder to keep.
You might want to focus on the religious ideas of the time. Religion was a much more pervasive influence then than it is now. It would have been considered relevant to the play in one way or another. Another possibility is to look at Romeo, especially in the first act, in terms of the tradition of the foolish Petrarchan lover.
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