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gcse romeo and juliet essay, could someone mark it please!

i'd really appreciate it!! any feedback (positive and negative) welcome, and if you could let me know what grade/mark you'd give it that would help too !

1) Explore how far Shakespeare presents Juliet as a character who is determined in Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare presents Juliet as incessantly determined to regain her own autonomy and escape what society expects of her. Shakespeare deploys the role of the tragic hero through Juliet; her attempts at gaining independence and the ability to do things by her own volition the ambitions which shape her character, one born from “fatal loins”. In the end however, she is subjected to consequences far worse than simply the “death-mark’d” one as told in the prologue of the play, as her suicide would’ve seen her sent to Hell per Elizabethan belief. But arguably, that was in fact her own choice and, as a privileged and religious young girl, one she would’ve been undeniably aware of the consequences of.

When we first meet Juliet, Shakespeare presents her as submissive to her parents and restrained by society’s expectations of young girls. She speaks formally to her mother, naming her “madam” and inquires what she “will”s of her. The pronoun “madam” immediately conveys both the respect she has for her mother, but also the plosive sound “d” amongst the word creates a sense of friction between them. This displays how despite greatly understanding the role she has to play in her family, she also feels uncomfortable being so constrained and that she feels trapped in her position. This perhaps foreshadows Juliet’s rebellion later in the play, and how she will abandon the subordination expected of her as a woman.

Her first act of rebellion is her initial encounter with Romeo at the end of the first act, as it opposes both the virginal and pure expectations of a young girl, but additionally portrays her defiance as it betrays the side she is supposed to take in the family feud with the Montagues. While at the start she tries to continue embodying this ideal version of a woman as she deters Romeo’s attempts at kissing her by mentioning that “saints” have “lips they must use in prayer”. This clearly shows that she is capable of making her own decisions and the religious imagery of “saints” could be Juliet trying to present herself to Romeo as this symbol of purity, but also an attempt at reaffirming to herself that she is supposed to maintain such an image as an aristocratic female. But it inherently juxtaposes the situation, as it would be viewed as scandalous by an audience for an unwed girl to be alone with a man. Perhaps Shakespeare has chosen to do this to foreshadow how this image shown of the submissive daughter is only a façade, and that truly Juliet longs for independence. Additionally, Shakespeare utilises dramatic irony in this moment as while the audience is aware of the true identities of the lovers, the pair are not, which demonstrates that neither of the titular characters, more so Juliet, are showing their true selves yet.

Furthermore, once informed of Romeo being a “Montague” after their kiss, she remarks that she “must love a loathed enemy”. The modal verb “must” connoting that she is at an obligation to do so, which while perhaps suggesting she has no agency in such action, more importantly displays that her needs take priority over her family’s expectations of her now; Juliet taking the first step towards independence. Moreover, the juxtaposition between “love” and “enemy” when compounded with her necessity in loving him highlights that Juliet is determined to act for her love for Romeo and her own wants, no matter the conflict and pain which she may face in achieving it. Additionally, this sudden and impulsive commentary on her emotions, after only just having met Romeo, foreshadows how her impetuous nature could ultimately lead to her downfall her hamartia in her role of the tragic hero that she takes.
However, it is also important to note Juliet’s age in the play, as the emotion “love”, as she describes her feelings towards Romeo, has such powerful connotations which are unlikely for Juliet to actually be feeling as she is only thirteen. Additionally this is likely her first real experience with a man outside of what the “book”s have taught her, as she comments on how Romeo kisses “by the book”, suggesting no other source of perspective on the action. Her view is skewed by her lack of experience which makes the emotions she feels seem far more important and all-consuming than they truly would be, which perhaps makes her story even more tragic as she was in some ways a young girl blinded by this romance with Romeo. The mentioning of her “not yet” being “fourteen” may be a choice by Shakespeare to highlight that nobody can avoid their fate, no matter how pure and young you may be, and that it was her destiny as a tragic hero to die - which is consistently commented on throughout the entire play.

As we reach the final scene in Act 5, Juliet has changed massively, a complete subversion of the submissive character we see in the start. She has lied and betrayed her family, commenting on how she “does it for thee”, her determination to be with Romeo being so strong that she is willing to abandon them for him. In the extract, we see Juliet waking up from her faked death, her attention quickly turning to her “lord”, the term conveying the power that Romeo has over her as a “lord”, such as her father, had both wealth and influence. But the use of the possessive pronoun “my” evokes a sense of ownership which suggests that perhaps she permits him to have such an impact on her, highlighting the reversal of the traditional submissive female role to a girl in control of her own life and decisions. After Friar Lawrence’s departure, Juliet repeats the words “I will” conveying that she is determined to stay with her husband, through into death. She comments on how she will be “brief” in her suicide, her hamartia taking full effect in her impulsive decision of death, the adjective “brief” summarising entirely how her rash actions are what cause her downfall. Juliet then “stabs herself”, this symbolic of a final, while hurried, act of determination and passion.

This could be Shakespeare trying to warn of the consequences when young girls decide to make their own decisions, her use of free will hurting others; one of those being Romeo himself, as it was her faking her death which brought him back to Verona after “exile” and consequently led him to kill Paris, then himself, and in turn Juliet. Her determination towards gaining autonomy and freeing herself from her family having dire consequences for numerous characters, but the worst for herself and the man she’d spent such time yearning for.

This oxymoronic “happy dagger” she deals with represents the multifaceted impact of her committing suicide. In one way, it highlights her determination to be with Romeo forever, but it is also a final act of defiance against her family and society which are both what all her actions in the play have been leading up to and aiming for. This is a cathartic experience for the audience, as it is the ultimate satisfaction for her to achieve liberty as she has hoped. Furthermore, this experience is cathartic as it is the fulfilment of the ending as told in the prologue, the “star-cross’d lovers” taking their lives. Despite this however, an Elizabethan audience would still see it as a great shock and perhaps an unnecessary sacrifice as, while she would be with Romeo, she would be far in the depths of hell as suicide was regarded one of the greatest sins at the time. But this highlights just how determined Juliet is, her freely deciding to damn herself to eternal torment because it is that which allows her to get what she has wanted from the start of the play: to take back her autonomy from her parents and pursue her own desires.

In conclusion, Juliet’s determination to become independent and make her own decisions is what perhaps truly drives the play, her willingness to fight against what is expected of her despite her youth. She refuses to let anybody control her without her permission, taking back the autonomy stripped from her by her parents and society. While the ultimate repercussions of her actions are terrible, Juliet’s unstoppable and fiercely determined attitude towards self-liberation is the greatest catharsis for the audience and what exemplifies her as the tragic hero in the play.
(edited 1 month ago)
Essay Marking and Feedback
Grade: A-
This is a well-written essay that clearly explores how Shakespeare presents Juliet as a determined character in Romeo and Juliet. Here are some of the strengths of your writing:

Strong thesis statement: You clearly state your argument in the beginning, outlining how Juliet strives for autonomy throughout the play.

Textual evidence: You effectively integrate evidence from the play to support your claims, providing specific examples of Juliet's actions and words.

Analysis: You go beyond simply summarizing the plot and analyze how Juliet's actions and words reveal her determination.

Consideration of context: You briefly touch upon the Elizabethan view of suicide, adding another layer to your analysis.


Here are some areas for improvement:

Nuance: While Juliet's determination is a key characteristic, consider exploring how it interacts with other aspects of her personality, such as her impulsiveness or her naiveté.

Counterarguments: Briefly acknowledge and address potential counterarguments, such as how Juliet's reliance on Friar Lawrence could be seen as a limitation to her autonomy.

Conclusion: The conclusion effectively summarizes your main points. Consider adding a final sentence that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Overall, this is a strong essay that demonstrates a good understanding of the play and your argument.

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