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Toxic Masculinity and Forgiveness in Romeo & Juliet

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Forgiveness and the opportunity to repent are two fundamental aspects in society both then and now as it is necessary to move past conflicts and prevent catastrophe. In Romeo & Juliet, playwright William Shakespeare explores forgiveness and its relationship with toxic masculinity as the affects of the eternal feud between the two most influential families in the city of Verona, the Montague’s and the Capulet’s, unfold.

This seemingly eternal feud between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s leads to many tragedies. In the prologue, it reads, “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life; / Whole misadventured piteous overthrows / Do with their death bury their parents' strife. / The fearful passage of their death-marked love, / And the continuance of their parents' rage, / Which, but their children's end, naught could remove / ...What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.” Both Lord Capulet and Lord Montague are older in their age, however they lack the wiseness that comes with age. When speaking to Paris, another male character who uses his masculinity negatively, Lord Capulet says, “Tis not hard, I think, for men so old as we to keep the peace” (1.2.2-3). He is right, it should not be hard, however because none of them want to look weak to the other or to the city of Verona, this feud continues. This constant strife between the two families and the hate that both Romeo & Juliet were born into prevented them from having a real relationship as it had to be a secret. and ultimately leads to the death of many people and friends of Verona, but their own children. Although both families are to blame, Lord Capulet and his dominating attitude towards Juliet is one of the more significantly tragic effects that led to her death.

Being a noble man of patriarchal power, Lord Capulet felt it necessary to ensure Juliet would be provided for and to find her a suitor who would do just that and keep both families’ reputations. Wanting to please her family, Juliet resentfully agrees to marry Paris. Upon meeting Romeo, she falls in love with him and because of the feud between the families, they feel compelled to secretly get married. When Capulet moves up Juliet’s wedding to the wealthy and honorable Paris Price, Juliet refuses to marry him and causes Capulet to lash out in a rage and threaten to disown her from the family for be ungrateful, dishonourable, and disobedient because she did not want to be forced into a marriage to a man she did not love saying,

“How, how, how , how! Chopped logic! What is this? ‘Proud’, and ‘I thank you’, and ‘I thank you not’, / And yet ‘not proud’, mistress minion, you, / Thank me no thankings, nor proud me no prouds, / 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. / Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage! / You tallow face! … Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch! / I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday, / Or never after look me in the face. / Speak not; reply not; do not answer me” (3.5.166-169).

Capulet’s masculinity and his engrained eternal need to continue to be in power no matter what the stakes led to Juliet faking her death so she could run away with Romeo.

After Tybalt sees Romeo crashing the Capulet party and despite his father’s wishes, he insists on finding Romeo and fighting him. When he finds Romeo, he keeps trying to fight him but Romeo refuses to because of his marriage and love to Juliet, Tybalt’s cousin, saying, “Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee / Doth much excuse the appertaining rage / To such a greeting. Villain am I none. / Therefore farewell. I see thou know'st me not...I do protest I never injured thee / But love thee better than thou canst devise / Till thou shalt known the reason of my love. / And so, good Capulet, which name I tender / As dearly as my own, be satisfied” in which Tybalt replies “Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries / That thou hast done me. Therefore turn and draw” (3.1.61-74). Because Romeo refuses to fight him, Tybalt gets upset and keeps trying to provoke him. This leads to



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