Throughout Romeo and Juliet, the Bard reflects the gender norms of women in the 1500s by having all of the women in his tragedy portray the trait of “obedience” (Gerlach et al. 1). When arriving on the scene of a brawl in the town square of Verona between members of House Capulet and House Montague, Lord Capulet orders his wife, Lady Capulet, to take out his sword, to which she objects. After seeing the leader of the rival house arrive simultaneously, Lord Capulet orders Lady Capulet to immediately “Give me my long sword, ho!… My sword, I say!” (1.
1.71-74). Shakespeare reflects the gender expectations of his time period when he portrays Lord Capulet’s word to be superior to that of his partner, as Lord Capulet orders his wife to hand over his sword so that he can get involved in the brawl.
Additionally, Lady Capulet tries to convince her daughter to get married to Count Paris, as she was married to Juliet’s father at Juliet’s age, and believes that Juliet has reached the age to tie the knot as well. Juliet passively abides by her mother proposition to meet him, and admits to her that she will “look to like, if looking liking move” (1.3.
99). This means that she will get to know Paris before she jumps into marriage, which shows Juliet matching the gender expectations from the sixteenth-century, as she submits to her mother’s idea of getting married without any argument, even if it is not in Juliet’s best interest. Similarly, after previously angering her father when refusing to marry the man that he picked out for her, Juliet, although not truly feeling remorse for her comments, apologizes to her father and gives him a feeling of supremacy over her. Juliet explains to her father that she has learnt to “repent the sin of disobedient opposition,” and finishes her apology by begging for his “pardon.
Pardon, I beseech you! Henceforward I am ever ruled by you” (4.2.17-22). When she admits to her father that he has power over her, Juliet mirrors the gender norms of her time period, submitting to his position over her as her father. While Shakespeare’s portrayal of a woman’s “obedience” is identical to that of sixteenth-century gender expectation of females, he also mirrors these expectations by providing the women of Romeo and Juliet great “humility” as well (Gerlach et al. 1).