0. characters, how has it changed throughout the time

0. INTRODUCTION

In this project my
aim was to make a deeper analysis into the archetypal love plot between the
characters of  A Home for the Highland Cattle and
Romeo and Juliet, but I also wanted to talk about the role of women in
them, taking into account the historical background that surrounded the
narratives, how it affected the plot and the behaviors of the characters, how
has it changed throughout the time and how we would see it from our point of
view nowadays.

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To begin with, I
focused on describing the characters of both novels separately and making a
little introduction of them, explaining their plots and the paper the main
characters play in it. Later on, after all the information about these series
of books, I made the comparison between the two love plots, how the characters develop
in it and their differences and similarities. Then I also explained which is
the paper of women in the relationships found and how is it described (the
belief of the inferiority of women, the role she plays in the relationship,
etc.), and how this point of view was affected by the reality of the age the
novel was written. My priority was to focus mainly in this field because it’s a
thing that has to be taken more into account, and we can find signs of how our
culture is affected and has always been affected by male chauvinism. To fix de
present and the future we have to take into account the past, what happened
before and why we’re thinking like we do nowadays.

To join all this
information I used both novels, some information I obtained by searching about
the historical contexts of Romeo and
Juliet and A Home for the Highland
Cattle, the notes I took in class and the power point presentations
available in the Campus Virtual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF “ROMEO AND JULIET” AND “A HOME
FOR THE HIGHLAND CATTLE”

Romeo and Juliet was written in 1595 approximately, when England had a great deal with
Italy. In 1592 England was ravaged by the bubonic plague, a disease that also
swept across Italy in 1348.  Shakespeare
was influenced by this event and other episodes of extreme violence such as
clashes of ideologies when he was writing Romeo and Juliet, and that affected
his writing. He wanted to transmit the message of the tragic consequences of
wars between rival factions, a message that his Elizabethan audience could
understand. Despite the fact that a woman ruled England at that time, the
Elizabethan society was patriarchal. Women were considered the weaker sex and
in need of being protected. When married, women were expected to have children
and it was considered an honor. At that time most women got pregnant every two
years, but because children mortality was importantly high, families were not
large. Often women were not allowed to inherit property. However, there were
woman who were highly educated, even though they were not allowed into the
professions. But in fact, they were allowed more freedom in the Elizabethan Age
than during the previous eras. The thinking of this age was that men and women
could be what they wanted, and with a woman ruling the kingdom, fathers
encouraged their daughters to become educated.

“A Home for the
Highland Cattle” is set in the former Southern Rhodesia (actual Zimbabwe),
published in 1953 in a collection of shorter fictional works, and mainly
focused on race and socio-economic conditions in the past Southern Rhodesia. It
was a British colony, and it was called this way in honor of Cecil Rhodes, a
British empire-builder and key figure during the British expansion into
southern Africa. There was also a physical division of the land in a half
between black and white people. In 1904 the sexual intercourse between black
man and white woman was considered a criminal offence, but there was no mention
on what an intercourse between a black woman and white man was considered. In
1919 women obtained the vote.

We can see how women
have been slowly getting closer and closer to have the same rights as men and
empower themselves, first with Queen Elizabeth getting to the throne of Britain
and encouraging other women, and then by being given the right to vote which we
didn’t have in the past. We obviously see that the weaker sex doesn’t exist and
everyone must have the same rights, but we can’t criticize the beliefs of the
people in the past, because their knowledge and comprehension of reality is
highly different from ours, and the same thing happens with racism. People were
racist because they were used to see only white people with their same beliefs
and culture, and when they realized there were also other types of skin color
and other cultures their reaction was the one of rejection.

 

 

2. A HOME FOR THE HIGHLAND CATTLE

A Home for the Highland Cattle tells the story of a
British couple that moves to South Africa after they get married, but they
don’t find the paradise everyone was talking about back in Britain, although
Marina, the main character, falls in love with the surroundings. They can’t
find a house as soon as they get there so they move to a neighborhood of flats,
where a group of elderly British women surveil her and treat native people
badly. Although Marina thought they moved to South Africa to have a loving live
with Philip, her husband, she later finds out that he only focuses in working.
He spends all the day out at his job and leaves Marina alone at house, but she
meets Charlie, her servant, with whom she gets really close. He has a wife and
a child, but he’s far from them and can only get to see each other once or
twice a year. She later finds out that she has more in common with Charlie than
with his husband or the elderly women in the neighborhood, so she likes to
spend time with him and feels closer with black people than with the white
women, that behave in a disrespectful way in her eyes.

In one of the parties
servants hold, Charlie meets another woman, Theresa, and instantly falls in
love with her. At first Marina is skeptical about their relationship, but later
on she does whatever it’s on her hand to get them together, as she sees the
relationship she would have wanted to have with Philip in them and wants them
to succeed in love because she couldn’t do it. When Charlie asks Theresa’s
father to marry his daughter, he asks for cattle. Charlie remembers that Marina
has a picture of cattle in her house, and asks her if she can give it to
Theresa’s father. It’s at this point when Marina changes her attitude towards
the situation and goes herself to Theresa’s father and gives him the picture of
the cattle so Charlie and Theresa can get married.

There are two kinds
of archetypal love: the one of Marina and Philip’s marriage and the love
between Charlie and Theresa, both very different. To begin with, the love
between Marina and Philip was socially accepted: a middle-upper class couple
that got married and moved to another country to be happy, but later on Marina realized
that wasn’t the kind of love she wanted, and noticed how different she’s from
Philip. But as divorce didn’t exist back at that time, she had to hold to her
husband forever. On the other hand, Charlie and Theresa are a different type of
couple, although he’s married with another woman and even has children with
her, that doesn’t make him fall back from falling in love with Theresa, another
black servant. As Marina doesn’t find the love she wants in her relationship
with Philip, she gets her own personal enjoyment by getting Theresa and Charlie
to get married. During the whole novel we can see how Marina spies Charlie and
Theresa, but no because she wants to gossip, but because she’s jealous and
wanted to see herself like them.

 

 

3. ROMEO AND JULIET

This tragedy starts
with a brawl between the servants of the Capulet and Montague families, which
from the very first point illustrate the confrontation between the Romeo and
Juliet’s surroundings. Juliet was supposed to marry Count Paris after two
years, and meet each other in the ball, but then she meets Romeo and instantly
falls in love with him. Although her heart was set on him and his heart was set
on her and some people of their surroundings like the Friar Laurence tried to
get the families together by their marriage, their love was still forbidden,
and would never be accepted because of the constant fight between their two
families.

After Romeo is exiled,
Juliet is forced to marry Paris and she delays the marriage, getting rejected
by her mother, Juliet asks for help to Friar Laurence. He gives her a poison
that will put her into a deathlike coma. The night before her wedding with
Paris she takes the drug and when found apparently dead, she’s laid in the
family crypt. When Romeo hears that Juliet is dead, as no one told him what her
plan with Friar Laurence was about, he buys poison and goes to the crypt where the
body of Juliet is laying. When he arrives there, he finds Paris and confronts
him. After Romeo wins the duel, he drinks the poison and kills himself. When
Juliet wakes up and finds the dead body of Romeo, she stabs herself with his
dagger. The Capulets and the Montagues meet at the tomb to find three dead
bodies. Friar Laurence then explains the story of the two “star-cross’d
lovers”. The families are reconciled by the death of Romeo and Juliet and
agree to end the confrontations they were into.

“Romeo and Juliet”
has a different historical background, which affects the archetypal love plot
in it. The marriage in that century was not about love, but about interest.
Families used to get their progenitors together to join both of the families’
wealth and reputation. That’s why marriages were sometimes between girls aged
14 and men aged 30, because what the families really looked for was capital,
not the happiness of their descendents.

The archetypal love
plot found in this tragedy is about the two “star-cross’d lovers”,
which because of their family or society background, can’t be together. That
implied that at the end, they took their own lives because their love wasn’t
accepted. In order to see each other, they would meet and even marry each other
secretly. That illustrates how marriage and love was seen at that age; many
people had to renounce to their loved ones because of their family’s interests,
and as in the present most of the marriages of our culture are about love, that
didn’t happen before.

 

 

 

4. COMPARISON BETWEEN “A HOME FOR THE HIGHLAND CATTLE” AND
“ROMEO AND JULIET” ARCHETYPAL LOVE PLOTS

The difference
between these two love plots can’t only be found in the historical contexts,
but also in the main characters’ personalities. To begin with, in A Home for the Highland Cattle the two
main characters, Marina and Philip, don’t really want to be with each other
even though they are already married and live together, but the other two other
relevant characters, Charlie and Theresa, do whatever they can to get to be
together, with the help of Marina, that wants them to have the love she hasn’t
been able to get with Philip. The only relationship that has something in
common with the love plot of “Romeo and Juliet” is the one of Charlie
and Theresa, not the one of the main characters in “A Home for the
Highland Cattle”, Marina and Philip.

Although Romeo and
Juliet’s relationship hardly became reality -despite the fact that they got
married secretly-, Charlie and Theresa could actually live a happy life
together. In both relationships we can find a person that tries to get the
couple together: the Friar Laurence in Romeo
and Juliet, that even marries them, and Marina in “A Home for the
Highland Cattle”, who goes to Theresa’s father house to give him the
picture of cattle. In both relationships one of them is also committed to
another person, Juliet has to marry Paris -although she didn’t want to- and
Charlie has a wife and a child -although it was a relationship he theoretically
wanted in the first place-. In A Home for
the Highland Cattle there’s another person that’s committed to someone she
doesn’t want to be committed with, Marina. At first she marries with Philip,
but we imagine she doesn’t really know him, because it isn’t until they arrive
to Southern Africa that she realizes they don’t have that much in common: he
isn’t an emotional man, she tries to do whatever to change the country she lives
in but Philip doesn’t care; they don’t have a similar point of view of the
world. The problem of this couple isn’t the outside world like in the case of
Romeo and Juliet or Charlie and Theresa, but that Philip and Marina aren’t
compatible with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THESE LOVE PLOTS

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet we can find two types
of woman representations: the bawdy woman, that normally makes sexual puns in
her speech (the Nurse), and the innocent woman, who’s pure at first but later
on loses that innocence (Juliet). With this two points of view that Shakespeare
had about women, we can already see the difference between them and men,
because in the male characters we would never find the “innocent
man”, but the strong man that knows what he’s doing.

It is well known that
in the past women were not considered as an equal to men, thing that nowadays
hasn’t also completely sunk in but is progressively improving. In the period Romeo and Juliet was written, the
society was completely patriarchal. That affected not only Juliet’s behavior,
but also Romeo’s. Juliet for example asks the Friar, a male figure, to solve
her problems, because back at that time it was thought that women always needed
help from another person, normally a man. But an interesting point is that
love-matches were taken in more account than in earlier times. An example of
that is when Juliet refuses to marry Paris: she challenges her own father, the
patriarch. That wouldn’t have been acceptable at all at an earlier time. In Romeo’s
case, the society forced him to act violently in some cases because he had to
act “manly”, as a man is supposed to be, and he couldn’t act
“effeminately”, as if it was an insult.

In A Home for the Highland Cattle the
vision of women is completely different: although Marina doesn’t want to be
with Philip anymore, she decided to marry him at first, it was her choice. The
same happens with Theresa, who herself also fell in love with Charlie and also
decided to marry him. The only hint of the past patriarchal society we can see in
it is when Theresa’s father has to give the approval to their marriage. Instead
of just asking Theresa if she wanted to marry him or not, Charlie asks her
father. Even though this is more like a tradition rather than an offence to the
woman in not letting her make their own decisions, we can see that traditions
that we’re still practicing nowadays come from patriarchal societies, and these
are the kind of little male chauvinisms that we don’t realize that still exist
and we find ourselves practicing as something usual. Another thing about
“A Home for the Highland Cattle” is when Marina doesn’t know how to
be alone at home without her husband, she is always wondering why he’s not with
her. The writer, who is a woman, makes us think that without her husband Marina
isn’t able to entertain herself and needs to be in company of someone to be
happy. There’s people that need that to feel fulfilled, but from a realist
point of view, Marina would have moved on and would have taken up a hobby, went
out and explore the country or even looked for a job, instead of only spying on
Charlie and Marina’s lives.

Taking a look at
this, we can see that even women had this point of view about how they should
be acting. They were raised like this and there’s nothing to blame about that,
but luckily we can see that now and try to change it so this improves later on.

6. CONCLUSION

The purpose of this
essay was not only to compare the love plots of Romeo and Juliet and A Home
for the Highland Cattle, analyze their backgrounds and take into account
the culture they took part in, but also focus on the role of women in them, as
stated before. They were underrated and considered the weak sex, even sometimes
in the present time. We may not notice, but some things of this reality are
still stuck in our cultures, and that comes from the past times, even way
before Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet”.

It was a very
interesting task for me to make, as I learnt the historical backgrounds of both
of the writings and I could also focus more on how women were described in
them, as sometimes we don’t think about it and it’s not until we really try it
that we realize so many things. From my point of view it’s a task everyone
should make when reading a book, more concretely an historical one, because
that way we’re able to see how we have evolved from that people in the past and
how we’ll be evolving in the future. It was useful for my improvement of the
knowledge about the subject and I hope that whoever reads it also thinks over
it if she or he hasn’t done it before.

Therefore, the
purpose of this project wasn’t at all to judge the beliefs had at that age, but
to analyze them and try to understand why people back at that age thought like
that. So, as a conclusion I would say that A
Home for the Highland Cattle and Romeo
and Juliet have similar archetypal love plots that can be easily compared,
but that comparison would have been easier if they were set in the same period,
as in each period the problems couples have to face are different, but the same
in root. We can also see how women roles have been changing throughout the time
and how little by little they have empowered themselves.