William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
In the age of Rome and Juliet’s creation, many values of society were
different from those we can observe in modern day life. Women did not
have equal rights, fathers had a lot more authority over their
children and arranged marriages were still practiced. A big factor was
people’s Christian faith; it was much stronger in those days so the
church played a huge role in society.
There are lots of factors that contribute to the outcome of the play
and these can be separated into Generic factors and society and
In modern families, parents tend to have control over the household.
They do not force the children to marry or force their life decisions
upon them but they have a subtle yet firm grasp on their children’s
lives. They use this grasp to guide, not to force their children.
However, in the time of Romeo and Juliet, the parents had control over
the household, the father more so than the mother. They would tell
their children how to live. We see evidence of this in Act III Scene v
when Capulet discusses marriage with Juliet. He is very upset to hear
that she does not want to go through with her arranged marriage.
Capulet: “Hang thee young baggage, disobedient wretch! I tell thee
what: get thee to church a’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the
face... Wife, we scarce thought us blest That God had lent us but this
only child, But now I see this one is one too much, And that we have a
curse in having her. Out on her, hilding!”
This seems like a very drastic reaction but it shows how much control
a father considered himself to have, and just how important he
considered it to be. This kind of controlling behaviour added greatly
to the tragedy in the end.
The honour of the family name was of great importance during the time
of the play. It represented your history and heritage, who you were
and your position in society. A person would go to great lengths to
uphold the honour in their name, especially Tybalt.
The Montagues and the Capulets were both high up in the social
hierarchy, as is stated in the prologue “Two households, both alike in
dignity”. They had a lot to defend but they entangled in an “ancient
grudge”. They had had a small argument with each other and this had
become very serious by the time Romeo and Juliet had met. The play
begins with the two families brawling in the streets and the prince
then says “If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay
the forfeit of the peace.”
A fight breaks out in Act III Sc i, which results in the deaths of
Tybalt and Mercutio. There was a cascade of events leading to this.
Romeo and his friends had sneaked into the Capulets’ party, Tybalt saw
Romeo there and wanted to fight him, but his uncle told him off, “He
shall be endured...” Tybalt was angry with...