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A Society’s Failure

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Romeo and Juliet were two people, deeply in love, united only in death. Their grim ends were not caused by one person alone, but rather by their entire society and its social standards. The society of Verona gave little power to women; instead, they were expected to obey the males of the house. Likewise, the men were obligated to be brave and rash, prompting hasty decisions. This was one of the main causes of the tragic deaths. The society did not conjure fit parents. The parents, like the Capulets, often gave their children the cold-shoulder and insisted on complete domination of their kids’ lives. If they had been taught to parent better, the play would not have ended in the same way. In Verona, the society valued honour, loyalty and pride. These highly-regarded qualities provoked new fights and reinstated old hatred, destroying numerous lives. Romeo and Juliet were victims of their own society.
The star-crossed lovers lived in a patriarchy society that demanded women to be obedient and sweet while men were to be impulsive and imperious. When Tybalt murdered Mercutio, Romeo killed Tybalt not only because of rage, but also due to the socials expectation of men he had to live up to: “Thy beauty hath made me effeminate,/And in my temper softened valor’s steel!” (III, I, 76-77). The simple act of slaying Tybalt triggered a series of events which led to the ultimate deaths of the woeful couple. In the past, fathers had absolute power over their daughters’ lives. As a result, Juliet’s father had the authority to force Juliet to marry a man she was indifferent to. When Juliet rejected Paris’ offer of marriage, Lord Capulet hollered, “But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next, To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church,/Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.” (III, VI, 152-155). This drove Juliet to do the extreme: drinking the potion that ultimately led to both her and Romeo’s deaths.
Romeo and Juliet were destroyed by the unsupportive parents of the Verona society. The parents were taught to keep their kids quiet and orderly, forgetting that their children had feelings and thoughts. When Romeo was exiled, Juliet laid in bed, obviously devastated. Her mom, who showed no understanding of Juliet’s feelings, misinterpreted the devastation as grief for Tybalt and expressed her wish to hire a man to put an end to Romeo. She told Juliet, “I'll send to one in Mantua, Where that same banish'd runagate doth live .../And then, I hope, thou wilt be satisfied.” (III, VI, 88-89, 93). Her “comforting” words only further agonized Juliet. Oblivious to their parents, the young teens sought other parental figures. In Romeo’s case it was Friar Lawrence, a pious churchman, and in Juliet’s, it was her nurse who cared for Juliet since she was a baby. After meeting Romeo, Juliet counselled the nurse instead of her parents, proving Juliet’s distance from her parents. Aside from that consultation, Juliet also asked the nurse to deliver a message for her as the nurse stated to Romeo, “And as I told you, my young lady bid me inquire you out.” (II, IV, 92-93). Throughout the play, Friar Lawrence and the nurse tried to fulfill the parental roles for Romeo and Juliet, but the gap proved to be too wide to fill. As hard as they tried, they still failed because of their lack of experience. They gave the young and naive couple deficient advices, pushing the lovers closer to the death doors. If their parents had been taught by the society to be more understanding and caring, the deaths of their children could have been easily prevented.
The society of Verona was built on pride, honour and loyalty. The family feuds were continued and intensified by the same traits. In the first scene of Romeo and Juliet, the servants of the two families insulted one another. The verbal brawler soon amplified into a physical fight when Sampson remarked, “Yes, better, sir.” (I, I, 51), claiming that Capulet was superior to Montague. This unnecessary fight was caused by the servant’s pride and loyalty for their masters. However, this gesture of devotion did nothing but put further strains on the families’ relationships. Like the servants, Tybalt was proud of his Montague name. He constantly picked fights because of that sense of honour to his family. Eventually, he got into trouble when he slaughtered Mercutio. He felt it was justified, as he once said, “Now, by the stock and honor of my kin,/To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.”(I, VI, 57-58). Unfortunately, Romeo thought otherwise. Compelled by loyalty to his friend, Romeo slew Tybalt, leading to Romeo’s banishment. One honourable thought executed at the expense of the lovers’ futures.
Romeo and Juliet wanted only each other, yet, that one simple request was deemed impossible by their society. Stereotypical social institutions, unfit parents and baseless arrogance brought about the unfortunate couple’s demise. Their deaths could have been avoided with a little compassion from the parents, some forgiveness from the society and more acceptance from everyone else. Notably, their departure led their society to see its failure and finally, shields of pride were put down and brought out the best of human nature. Their destruction cost the young couple their lives, but constituted their eternal union, formed an unbreakable bond between their households, and united their entire society.





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sunnyhunny This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 11, 2010 at 8:25 pm
I completely agree with you.  Societys' expectations can be extremely stereotypical, unrealistic, and immoral.  I suggest you read the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns.  It demonstrates the expectations that Afghan Society places on women, even up to this day.  As in Romeo and Juliet, much grief and many lives could have been spared with a little acceptance.
 
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