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Romantic Relationships in Shakespeare’s and Austen’s Stories

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How does Shakespeare and Austen present Juliet and Elizabeth’s views towards Romantic Relationships? In this essay I shall be discussing and analysing how Shakespeare and Austen present Juliet and Elizabeth’s views on romantic relationships. Shakespeare was a playwright who lived and wrote his plays in the 16th century whereas Austen wrote only novels and lived in the 19th century. I think that the times that they lived was a contributing factor to how their views on romantic relationships were portrayed as the times that they lived in influenced their characters, plots and style of writing.

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The characters that I shall be focussing on in this essay shall be Juliet from Shakespeare’s classic love story’ Romeo and Juliet’ as well as Elizabeth who is a character from Austen’s well-loved novel, Pride and Prejudice. Juliet is a quiet, well-mannered girl to begin with but she then meets her beloved Romeo and everything changes. At the mere age of 14 she makes choices that will affect her life forever, but no necessarily for the better.

On the contrary, Elizabeth Bennett is considerably older, at about the age of 20.

She is feisty and not afraid to speak her mind however, she is challenged when Mr Darcy comes to the town. I am going to try to show exactly how Austen and Shakespeare portray Elizabeth and Juliet’s views on Romantic Relationships. Firstly, I shall compare Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting with Lizzie and Darcy’s first meeting. In Romeo and Juliet, we have only been introduced to the characters that same morning and by the evening they are hopelessly in love with each other. In their first moment to together Romeo questions that there is ‘sin from thy lips?

O trespass sweetly urged! Give me my kiss again. ’ The word ‘sweetly; suggests to the reader that Romeo thinks that Juliet is sweet and that she is the most beautiful thing that he has ever seen. Shakespeare also uses the technique of foreshadowing in this scene because they are so hopelessly in love, happy and joyous; something is bound to go wrong. I think that Shakespeare uses foreshadowing to convey his idea that you don’t always get what you want and you cannot be happy for ever. Moreover he conveys the idea that True love is possible.

I know this because in Romeo and Juliet, the night that they meet, they are in love with each other, and they even agree to marry. Furthermore, Shakespeare’s attitude towards arranged marriage comes through very clearly in the third scene of the first act of the play. In this scene Juliet’s mother enters and tells her that the ‘valiant Paris seeks you for his love. ’ The word ‘valiant’ is used in this way because the mother is trying to ‘sell’ Paris to Juliet so that she may be more inclined to marry him. Also she did not wish for her daughter to not be married, as soon enough, she would be too old for any worthy suitor to wed her.

It was very common in Elizabethan for people to get married young because when you turned 14 you were considered to no longer be a child and therefore old enough to begin your own life. However, in Pride and Prejudice Lizzie and Darcy’s first meeting couldn’t be more different. The whole Bennet household are invited to the Netherfield ball, by person invitation of Mr Bingley. Sometime after the ball begins, Bingley and Darcy converse about the events of the night in which Mr Darcy replies by saying that Elizabeth was ‘tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me;…’.

The word ‘tolerable’ suggests to the reader that Darcy can only just bare her and he doesn’t like her very much but, just to be ‘polite’ he decides to condone her. After the ball Mrs Bennet expresses her feelings to her family, on behalf of Lizzie, by saying that Mr Darcy was ‘…a disagreeable, horrid man, not worth pleasing…’. The word ‘disagreeable’ suggests to the reader that Mrs Bennet thinks Mr Darcy ‘rude’ and that she would never consider talking to him because of his bluntness, arrogance and impudence. The similarities between these two texts are that both Austen and Shakespeare use the technique of foreshadowing in this chapter/scene.

Austen uses the technique of foreshadowing in this part of the novel because both Darcy, Lizzie and Lizzies friends and family are saying that they think that each other are disagreeable, rude and disrespectful which means that a turn of events will cause them to like each other. Austen’s attitudes show through the heroin throughout the novel, Elizabeth. Elizabeth does not see the point of getting married to the first person who comes along, unless you are in love with them. However Austen’s life completely contradicts this.

In 1795, Tom Lefroy came to visit and after spending time together, Lefroy and Austen wished to marry but, they had no money therefore the marriage between them could not happen. Lefroy left and never saw Jane again. I think that Austen does not wish others to have this happen to them so through her character Elizabeth she tells us to marry if you truly love them. The second point in each of these plots that I am going to compare is Lizzie and Charlottes views on marriage compared with the views of Juliet. In Pride and Prejudice, in Chapter 6, we are properly introduced to the character of

Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte is considerably older than Lizzie, at about 27 years old which, I believe is highly influenced by her opinions on marriage and society. During the Bennet’s visit to Longbourn Charlotte and Lizzie converse about the events of last night’s ball. During their conversation Charlotte says to Lizzie that there are ‘… very few of us who have a heart enough to be really in love without encouragement…. ’. The word ‘encouragement’ suggests that Charlotte believes that women do not truly love their husbands and that there are a lot of influences as to why they marry.

The connotations of this word mean that women have had help and guidance in their marriage. Charlotte may also have said this from a personal experience because she is 27 and her parents are endorsing her to get married whether she loves the gentleman or not. Austen has written the character of Charlotte Lucas to convey to the reader what life would have been like for a lot of women in the Regency Period. Through Charlotte’s character, Austen conveys the idea that it was a crucial element of life, for women to be married.

Moreover, Austen portrays the idea that she believes you should marry if you love the person you intend to marry. This is because the heroin of the novel, Lizzie has the opposing view to all of Charlotte’s views on marriage. Also a lot of Austen’s views and attitudes are shown through her character Lizzie; therefore Austen believes that Charlotte’s views on marriage are wrong. Moreover she believed that anyone who had a view like that was wrong. On the contrary, Elizabeth’s attitude to marriage is completely different to Charlotte’s attitude.

At the end of their dialect Elizabeth replies by saying to charlotte that she ‘…would never act in this way yourself. ’ The word ‘act’ suggests to the reader that Lizzie does not believe that Charlotte would ever do anything like what she has just said she would do. It was very common in the Regency Period, for women to marry even if they didn’t love the person. A lot of the things that Charlotte mentioned would be very common for women to do in this period. This is because it would be frowned upon in society if you were any older than about 20 and you were still unmarried.

You would be seen as a burden to your parents and too old to marry anyone worthy enough. Austen’s views on marriage really show through in this chapter because she shows that she believes that you can’t fall in love with someone after you marry, but you must be sure that you love the person before you marry. Also in the regency Period, there was always the element of hastiness, that your daughter or son had to be married as quickly as possible. I believe that Austen completely disagreed with this. This is because Austen only received one marriage proposal, at the age of 27.

She accepted and then withdrew her acceptance. This shows the reader that Austen doesn’t believe in rushing into things like they did in the regency period and, that Austen was a very controversial person, just as Lizzie was. In comparison to Pride in Prejudice, I am now going to look at Juliet’s attitude towards marriage, when she speaks to her mother about marriage, and In particular, marrying Paris. In this play, as I said previously, Juliet is only 14, so like Elizabeth they are both very young, but for their setting and time period, they are the right age to consider marriage.

Juliet is an innocent, angelic girl who is obedient but, much to her mother’s horror does not want to get married. When they talk about Paris, her mother asks her what her opinion and ‘…disposition to be married. ’ The word ‘disposition’ suggests to the reader that Juliet’s mother is asking her daughters opinion on a subject, and that subject is marriage. Juliet replies, in all certainty that ‘it is an honour that I do not dream of. ’ This is similar to Elizabeth because Elizabeth has no intention of getting married either.

The word honour suggests that Juliet might be being sarcastic by saying the word ‘honour’ because the word honour is said in the context that you are privileged to be able to do that thing. I also think that she is being sarcastic because she then goes on to say that ‘…I do not dream of…’ which has the connotations that she doesn’t want to do this. The connotations of the word ‘dream’ are happiness and many of the connotations that are said about this word are positive connotations but, when you hear the first part of the line, the connotations of the word change.

Therefore the connotations of this word could be that she is not happy and doesn’t ‘dream’ to be married. Shakespeare uses the technique of foreshadowing in this line because if Juliet is saying that she doesn’t want to get married; she may end up marrying someone as the play progresses. Shakespeare’s attitudes towards marriage also come through in this scene because, he is portraying the idea that young girls should not be forced to marry at such a young age. He could be doing this from his own real life experience because Shakespeare’s daughter Suzanna married at the age of 24 and her parents didn’t mind.

They just wanted her to be happy. This shows that Shakespeare’s attitude to marriage was similar to none of the characters in Romeo and Juliet, but completely contradictive. However one similarity is that both Austen and Shakespeare have the same views on marriage, that you should only get married if you are in love. The next area that I am going to compare is the reactions of characters to other opinions on Romantic relationships. In Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet’s parents find out that she doesn’t want to marry Paris, her father is furious and he threatens to disown her if she doesn’t marry.

It was a crucial part of an Elizabethan woman’s life to become married otherwise you would become a burden to your parents. In this scene Capulet calls his daughter a ‘disobedient wretch. ’ The word ‘disobedient’ suggests to the audience that Juliet has been told to do something and chooses not to do it. The negative connotations of this word suggest that Juliet is being ungrateful and spoilt. Capulet then goes on to say that Juliet must ‘get thee wed O’thursday, or never after look me in the face. ’ The word ‘never’ suggests to the audience that Capulet will ‘never’ speak to his daughter again if she doesn’t marry Paris.

It was common in the Elizabethan period for parents to arrange their daughter’s marriage for them because, similarly to the regency period, there was a sense of hurry to get married as soon as they became of age. Shakespeare’s views on marriage and romantic relationships come through in this scene because he portrays Capulet to be the one in the wrong and Juliet to be the one who the audience should pity and take sides with. I think that Shakespeare has written the part of Capulet to show the audience what life would have been like if you had defied your parents and not listened to them.

Shakespeare’s attitude in this scene is that you should not marry unless you are in love with that person. This is because Juliet does not wish to marry Paris because she doesn’t love him but, she married Romeo because she loves him. Moreover I thi9nkthat religion played a big part in this scene and, throughout the play. This is because in Christianity you are not allowed to be married to 2 different people at the same time (bigamy). Therefore a reason why Juliet may have declined her father’s offer is because she did not wish to go against her religion because religion was a big thing in the Elizabethan period.

However, In Pride and Prejudice the reactions are slightly different. In the middle of the night Lady Catherine De Bough pays a visit to the Bennet hose to express how she feels about her nephew and Lizzie. She calls in and says that what she has been hearing, she ‘… knows to be a scandalous falsehood’. The word ‘scandalous’ suggests to the reader that what Lady Catherine is proposing cannot possibly be true. I t was common in the regency Period for scandalous behaviour to be the talk of the town because news spread very quickly.

Austen uses foreshadowing in this line because if Lady Catherine ‘knows’ that what she has been hearing is not true, then it might end up to be true. Also in this paragraph, Austen uses Dramatic irony because the audience know that Darcy does love Elizabeth, but Lady Catherine and all of the other characters, don’t. I think that this was a good technique for Austen to use because it adds the element of surprise to the novel. It adds the element of surprise because all of the characters believe that Elizabeth is going to say one thing, but she is actually going to say something completely different.

Austen’s views on marriage come through in this scene because she shows that she believes that you should only marry if you are in love. I know this because when Lady Catherine asks if Elizabeth if she can’ promise never to enter into such an engagement…. ’ she replies by saying that ‘I will make no promise of the kind. ’ When Lady Catherine uses the word ‘enter’ it suggests to the reader that Elizabeth has gone into something that Lady Catherine disagrees with. When Lizzie uses the word ‘promise’ this suggests that she will not make any ‘promise’ that she will or will not do something.

This could also be foreshadowing, because suggesting that Lizzie will not enter into an engagement with Mr Darcy, means she might end up coming into an engagement with him. This is similar to Romeo and Juliet because both Juliet and Lizzie defy either Juliet’s parents or Lady Catherine. The final area that I am going to talk about is the endings of these texts. In Romeo and Juliet, learns that Juliet has died goes and kills himself, and then Juliet wakes up and kills herself as well. Just before Juliet herself, she says that there is a ‘…O’ happy dagger, this is thy sheath….

’ The word sheath suggests to the audience that Juliet wants to protect Romeo in life, as well as in death. However the negative connotations of this quote are that Juliet is happy to have a dagger to kill herself with. Also this proves Shakespeare’s attitude to romantic relationships because Juliet would rather die than live without Romeo there with her. This proves Shakespeare’s attitude towards romantic relationships, that love at first sight is real and, the idea of true love is also true.

I think that Shakespeare has this attitude towards romantic relationships because it happened in this life and he has decided to bring in his personal opinions into his play. His opinions really show through his character Romeo, and I think that Juliet is his wife, Anne Hathaway. This is because Shakespeare fell in love with Anne Hathaway as soon as he saw her and, like Romeo and Juliet, married very young. Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was just 18 years old. Similarly to Romeo and Juliet, William and Anne’s marriage was not condoned by a lot of people because they thought Anne was too old for him.

The ending of this play is different to the ending of Pride and Prejudice because, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy and Pride and Prejudice is a romantic comedy. However, In Pride and Prejudice the ending of this novel is completely different. In the end, Darcy proposes, Lizzie accepts and Lizzie’s father gives them their blessing. The ending is similar to Romeo and Juliet because both families could not believe what had happened to both, Lizzie’s proposal and Juliet’s suicide. When Lizzies family find out that she is engaged to Mr Darcy ,her sister Jane replies by saying that ‘You are joking Lizzie.

This cannot be! — Engaged to Mr Darcy! — No, no. you shall not deceive me. I know it to be impossible. ’ The word ‘deceive’ suggests to the reader that Jane believes that what Lizzie is telling her, not to be true. This similar to Romeo and Juliet, when Lord Capulet cannot believe that Juliet doesn’t want to marry Paris. Austen’s views on romantic relationships show through in this chapter because it shows that Austen believes in true love and that love at first sight. This is similar to Shakespeare’s view because Shakespeare also believes in True love.

I think that Austen’s views are being portrayed through the female protagonist, Lizzie. Also I think that Austen’s own life experiences show through in the story lines portrayed in this novel. Moreover I think that Austen is showing that she doesn’t want what happened to her, to happen to anyone else, even if it means defying your family. This is because Austen was in love but her family did not approve so her fiancee went away and she never saw him again. This could also show the reader that life doesn’t always have a happy ending however Austen wanted to show that love conquers all and sometimes life does have a

happy ending. Jane also says to Lizzie that she thought that Lizzie ‘…. disliked him…’ The word ‘disliked’ suggests to the reader that Jane didn’t even know that Lizzie liked Mr Darcy, let alone loved him. The connotations of this word are hate and loath which suggest to the reader that Lizzie doesn’t like Darcy, which is not true, because they intend to marry. The final similarity is that in the end if both texts, both couples were happy, dead or alive, as long as they were together. To conclude, Austen presents Lizzies views on romantic relationships by saying that you should only marry if you are in love.

This is shown in her conversation with charlotte and her rejection to Mr Collins. Most importantly it is shown when she marries Mr Darcy, because she loves him. Another way that Austen presents Lizzies views on romantic relationships is by saying that love conquers all. This is shown when she accepts Darcy’s proposal even though her family didn’t like him. Also Austen presents the idea that Love overcomes social status. This is shown when Lizzie marries Darcy because Darcy was a lot higher up in society than Lizzie was yet they still married.

On the other hand, In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare presents the idea that you can’t escape fate. This is shown when Romeo and Juliet both kill themselves. Shakespeare also presents the idea that love is powerful. This is shown when Juliet refuses to marry Paris because she loves Romeo too much. Finally Shakespeare presents the idea that love is everywhere and we can’t help who we fall in love with. This is shown when Romeo and Juliet fall in love and they are from families who are in the middle of a feud with each other, and have been for centuries.

Cite this Romantic Relationships in Shakespeare’s and Austen’s Stories

Romantic Relationships in Shakespeare’s and Austen’s Stories. (2016, Sep 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/romantic-relationships-in-shakespeares-and-austens-stories/

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