M_ichael
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Hey!

So I'm currently in year 11 and recently wrote an essay about the following question "Juliet is not free. No woman living in the 16th century would be free".

So, I'm looking for input on how I can improve my essay (~700 words, 3-5 minute read) or any errors with structure. I've also asked my teacher the give me feedback on this as well, but she usually doesn't really give me proper constructive criticism, more just WWW's not EBI's.

Any feedback appreciated.
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Albeit Shakespeare presents "Romeo and Juliet" set in stone in a dominant, patriarchal society, I believe Shakespeare utilises Juliet to portray her as a modest, dignified young woman in a 16th century Elizabethan England to show audiences that society is not completely male-dominated. I believe he further wants to show that women also possess a strong intellectual capability to process and make decisions for themselves and that they are just as wise and hardworking as men and therefore possess the power to defy the stereotypical social construct of men being top-tier.

When Romeo first meets Juliet at the party at Capulet’s mansion, Romeo begins to initiate religious wordplay by describing his lips with the metaphor “two blushing pilgrims”. The verb “blushing” shows us that Romeo finds Juliet attractive and the red connotes to love at first sight (although, Shakespeare’s intentions for writing the play are completely antithetical), but it also reminds us that Romeo is a Petrarchan lover and Shakespeare employs him to be symbolic of 16th century aggressive men and condemns the overarching power of men in a patriarchal society. Just as we saw with Rosaline, Romeo relies on lust to strengthen his relationships rather an actual, intimate connection. Furthermore, Romeo describes his lips as “pilgrims” which have religious connotations implying that Romeo is a pilgrim searching for love and the destination, in this context, would be to take Juliet’s virginity.

However, instead of Juliet walking away - as she knows she is to get married to Paris - she further continues the religious wordplay with Romeo by addressing Romeo as a “good pilgrim” and suggesting he does “wrong his hand too much”. By Juliet’s realisation of Romeo wronging his hand too much, this shows she is prudent and careful about engaging in a relationship. This Juliet is completely antithetical to Romeo as while Romeo seeks a lustful, ephemeral relationship, Juliet seeks a long, engaging relationship, but the continuation of religious wordplay shows she is free to flirt with whoever she wants. Juliet’s realisation of Romeo as a Petrarchan lover and the continuation of religious wordplay may perhaps show she may’ve been in a past relationship, therefore showing the magnitude of her prudence and freedom and how she defies all her parents’ (who are symbolic of 16th century parents) expectations. The continuation of religious wordplay could show Juliet is not easily seduced by untrustworthy men. I also believe the continuation of religious wordplay could show her defiance to the 16th century heavily dominated patriarchal society. Juliet’s defiance to her father’s authoritative and totalitarian manner shows her individual sense of freedom and her defiance to the heavily partisan social structure, showing that woman are stronger than they look.

When Romeo and Juliet meet again, they begin an exchange of words before Juliet highlights that her “bounty is as boundless as the sea” in attempt to illustrate that her “bounty” is something that is something open for availability (the simile of “as boundless as the sea” shows this) and something to be captured/obtained, in this case, Shakespeare is referring to her virginity. However, Juliet is still to get married to Paris so this shows her defiance to her authoritative Father, Capulet, and the patriarchal society and showing she can make decisions for herself. Furthermore, the alliteration of the harsh “b” shows her seriousness to her role as a woman, therefore showing her prudence for the future and care for her social status as she wants to be careful with who she weds to. This defies all 16th century audience views on marriage as they believed that marriage was chosen by fathers, rather than the daughter showing the extent to Juliet's freedom and showing she can make decisions for herself.

No 16th century woman at the time would feel so inclined to defy her own father’s wishes on marriage whilst being enticed in flirtatious religious wordplay with an enemy Montague. Therefore, Shakespeare uses Juliet to symbolise individual freedom and defiance to the prejudiced social structure woman were forced to partake in and how they are starting to break out of it. Implicitly, Shakespeare could be wanting to elucidate the fact that woman are stronger than they look and represent modesty, dignity and freedom.
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Sophiebxx
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Hiya, just a couple of things I picked up on:
- try to have a structure for each paragraph to make sure you are getting the most marks as possible. Point, evidence (quotes) , explain, language analysis, context, refer back to the question. If you do this for each point you make, it ensures that you are showing the examiner you have a strong understanding of the text.
- Rather than saying "I believe", say other phrases such as "Shakespeare shows" or "Shakespeare conveys through his use of alliteration that...". Yes, an English essay should be about exploring your interpretation of a text, but you need to be exploring what the author could be presenting.
- That leads me on to my next point. Try not to discuss the characters as real people. Try and include Shakespeare's name as much as possible and what Shakespeare is trying to convey. for example, rather than saying "instead of Juliet walking away - as she knows she is to get married to Paris - she further continues the religious wordplay with Romeo by addressing Romeo as a “good pilgrim”, you could say "Shakespeare uses religious wordplay to show the reader that Juliet is prudent and careful about engaging in a relationship". This would be the 'point' of your paragraph as I mentioned earlier, and it is not treating the characters as real people.

However, this is a good start. I noticed you were exploring language analysis such as alliteration and the language itself. Also, you have a good understanding of the historical context. The points are there, you just need to work on refining it and the structure of your essay.
Hope this helps
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M_ichael
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Report Thread starter 4 months ago
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(Original post by Sophiebxx)
Hiya, just a couple of things I picked up on:
- try to have a structure for each paragraph to make sure you are getting the most marks as possible. Point, evidence (quotes) , explain, language analysis, context, refer back to the question. If you do this for each point you make, it ensures that you are showing the examiner you have a strong understanding of the text.
- Rather than saying "I believe", say other phrases such as "Shakespeare shows" or "Shakespeare conveys through his use of alliteration that...". Yes, an English essay should be about exploring your interpretation of a text, but you need to be exploring what the author could be presenting.
- That leads me on to my next point. Try not to discuss the characters as real people. Try and include Shakespeare's name as much as possible and what Shakespeare is trying to convey. for example, rather than saying "instead of Juliet walking away - as she knows she is to get married to Paris - she further continues the religious wordplay with Romeo by addressing Romeo as a “good pilgrim”, you could say "Shakespeare uses religious wordplay to show the reader that Juliet is prudent and careful about engaging in a relationship". This would be the 'point' of your paragraph as I mentioned earlier, and it is not treating the characters as real people.

However, this is a good start. I noticed you were exploring language analysis such as alliteration and the language itself. Also, you have a good understanding of the historical context. The points are there, you just need to work on refining it and the structure of your essay.
Hope this helps
Thanks so much, i'll take your points on board!
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