Gender Stereotypes In Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

Decent Essays
William Shakespeare, despite cultural norms and stereotypes of his time, wrote highly intelligent, clever, and self-aware female characters: sometimes more so than their male counterparts. In those cases, the women serve as teachers for these men in various situations and capacities. Whether they are successful in their education is debatable on a case-by-case basis, but the intent is a common thread in the bard 's works.
Juliet, of Romeo and Juliet (Rom.), is the most subtle of these women. She has reason to be worried about Romeo’s love or, more specifically, the capricious nature of that love. When Romeo enters the play he is sick with love for Rosalind, going so far as to say that he is grieving and going mad (Rom. 1.1.186-194), but he
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Friar Laurence, being not only a man of God, but also a friend to Romeo, has perspective Juliet lacks. Despite this lack of perspective, her assessment of Romeo is confirmed when the friar comments (with underlying judgement) on Romeo’s fickle heart: “Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, / So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies / Not truly in their hearts but in their eyes” (Rom. 2.3.67-68). While this approach is fairly indirect and does little to avert the tragedy awaiting her in act five, it does much to assure both Romeo and Juliet that their love is not “like the lightning, which doth cease to be / Ere one can say that it lightens” (Rom. …show more content…
He begins to make an oath not to wrong her ever again, but knowing that Antonio is the only thing Bassanio values in the world as much as his wife, if not more so, she refuses to accept his promise until after Antonio has put his body up as collateral. It is through her deception of dressing as a man (another prevalent theme within Shakespeare’s work) that she is able to teach Bassanio never to break his promises to her in the form of the ring trial.
Rosalind also teaches her romantic interest while crossdressing in As You Like It (AYL). Orlando, her romantic interest, is an absurdly hopeless romantic, going so far as to carve poems into trees in the forest of Arden, proclaiming:
These trees shall be my books, And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character,
That every eye which in this forest looks
Shall see thy virtue witnessed

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