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The Victorian Area

The Victorian Area was an age where patriarchal ideologies were the standard and gender roles were strictly in place, the stereotypical women are delicate, and men presented as powerful. An account of a Capulets servant, Sampson, on a Monday morning, is the epitome of the attitude towards gender role, “Tis true: and therefore women, being the weaker/ vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore, push I will/ Montague's’ men from the wall and thrust his maids”. Sampson argues that he is more of a man for pushing Montague servants and assaulting women. The statement displays the commonly held belief that women are weak and objects of sex; while, men are powerful and aggressive. Moreover, delving into the political atmosphere of Verona, men controlled the laws and ignited the fights. Through society lens, men were in power and women were inferior. For example, Lord Montague and Lord Capulet fight each other even through old age, and many warnings from the Prince. Masculine honor fuels the fight against the lords. The stringent political and social views of gender roles from the past demonstrate why Romeo and Juliet's forbidden love rocked the world.

Later on in the week as Romeo and Juliet's love intensifies, so does Juliet's assertiveness. As Juliet mourns over the loss of her cousin and banishment of her husband, she refuses her dad’s wishes to marry Paris, which goes against the female role of being subservient, “I will not marry yet: and when I do, I swear/ It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,/Rather than Paris." Juliet takes action, carving her own path, instead of being forced to marry a man and feeling empty. Juliet demonstrates masculine traits, once more proving the duality of feminine and masculine qualities.

However, as tragedy crowds, Juliet and Romeo are driven to desperation to keep their love together and revert to gender norms. Juliet becomes submissive to Friar Laurence's plan even though she has her second thoughts, "What if it be a poison which the friar/ Subtly hath ministered to have me dead." Juliet falls to being subrevent and willing. Additionally, Romeo irrationally kills Tybalt to avenge Mercutio and protect his masculine honor. Romeo senses that his love for Juliet softened his masculinity characterizing him as unmanly, discarding patriarchal expectation of male strength. “Thy beauty hath made me effeminate and in my temper softened valor’s steel!". his going back to gender norms shows that a masculine female can have movements of weakness; an effeminate man can have movements of irrational manly actions.

However, looking back at the horrific death scene, Juliet was found dead by stabbing herself with a dagger, which is an aggressive and masculine form of suicide; while, Romeo mourns and drinks poison, as a more passive form of suicide. Romeo and Juliet became their same selves at death as Juliet taking the violent death and Romeo taking the quiet death, shows the fluidity of masculinity and femininity fluidity. Lastly, the Prince's speech at the funeral of Verona, “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo," closes off this tragic love story by accepting the fluidity of gender roles in the scandalous affair.