Romeo & Juliet CultureI 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...

Romeo & Juliet Culture

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.

- Jenny

8 Answers

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

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.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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.

enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

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.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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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.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would focus on the fact that although it was culturally accepting for the two families to duel, it was against the law. The prince got fed up and decided that there were to be nor more duels, and anyone who dueled would be banished. Of course, it didn't prevent the fighting, but it did seal Romeo's fate.