The Issue of Child Abuse and Neglect for Children


Neglect and child abuse can make it harder for children to move on from their physical 

and emotional trauma. The play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakspeare and the autobiography Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Wah, illustrates what challenges and difficulties two girls had to go through due to the conflicts that occurred between them and their parents. In the play Romeo and Juliet, the story takes place in Verona in which two opposing parties lie; the Capulets and the Montagues. Juliet is part of the Capulet family and Romeo is part of the Montague family. It is a story that focuses on the tale of two teenage lovers who are bound to die together because of the feud between their rival families. Ever since Lord Capulet, her father, insists Juliet marry a wealthy man named Paris, Juliet has been in desperation to escape the marriage, relying on the assistance of Friar Lawrence. Because she drank a potion that left her unconscious, Romeo assumes that Juliet is actually dead and later killed himself. In the end, Juliet ended her grief by taking her own life as well. Chinese Cinderella is an  autobiography of the author herself, Adeline Yen Mah. She describes the horrible memories she made from when she was a child and recalls the abuse and alienation she suffered under the hands of her family, especially from Niang, who is her stepmother. The cause for the amount of resentment her family has towards her is due to the birth of her biological mother. Niang and Capulet were barriers in Juliet and Adeline’s relationship with the people who stayed close to their hearts and mattered to them most. While Juliet seeks revolt against her father instinctively, Adeline doesn’t lose heart and relies on persistence to cope with her trauma.

First of all, Juliet tries to cope with her rebellion against her father, Lord Capulet, by seeking comfort from outside help. After Juliet receives the news of Romeo’s banishment for killing Tybalt, her cousin, she expresses her rage and frustration when feeling betrayed by fate. To make matters worse, she even has to go through the harsh process of being forced to marry Paris, a man whom she doesn’t have any strong feelings for. She agrees in order to go along with Friar Lawrence’s plan by threatening him with her suicide. 

JULIET. Tell me not, friar, that thou hearest of this,                    

Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it.

If, in thy wisdom thou canst give no help,

Do thou but call my resolution wise,

And with this knife I'll help it presently. (4.1.50-54)

Unlike Adeline, Juliet doesn’t think about the effects her irrational thoughts and actions would have on her and Romeo’s fate. Instead, she pushes other possible solutions aside to move closer into harm's way. Owing to her impulsivity, she doesn’t think ahead of the direction she’s heading for. Through death, she eventually comes to closure with herself knowing it is the only way to break free of the grudge she holds against her father for the longest time. 

On the other hand, Adeline overcomes her obstacles by relying on her work ethic and persistence. After Adeline finishes her homework before going to the airport for Tianjin with her parents, Aunt Baba says her last farewells. She commends Adeline for her efforts of consistently working hard and never letting herself down. She tells Adeline once again that through the combination of her hard work and talents, the world will give her recognition. Aunt Baba reconciles Adeline by saying, “‘After that it’s entirely up to you. I’ll be here for you as long as I’m alive. Surely you know that? But you must never forget the dream. Try to do your best at all times. You have something priceless inside you which must not be wasted. You must prove them wrong! Promise?’ ‘Yes! I promise’” (253). Aunt Baba is characterized as a mother to Adeline and constantly reminds Adeline of the amount of potential she has. Since Aunt Baba treasures Adeline’s grades dearly because of how it reflects her diligence through her hard work, Adeline continues to learn and doesn’t stop studying. Although Adeline does find joy, comfort, and aspiration when communicating with Aunt Baba, Adeline knows that Niang is the biggest influence for hindering her from reaching her full potential. Knowing that no one will be able to guide her to a brighter future in the long run, she remains an independent attitude.

Finally, while Juliet heedlessly expresses her distraught and frustrated emotions on the outside, Adeline uses her initiative to take charge of her emotions to herself. After the conflict between Juliet and Capulet, Juliet cries out to the nurse in devastation and makes a long speech about how and why fate could turn so against her. Not only is Romeo, the only man who could truly comfort her, banished from Verona, but Capulet suddenly becomes a cruel man who nearly forces her into a marriage she wishes to refuse. 

JULIET. O God! O nurse, how shall this be prevented?

My husband is on earth, my faith

in heaven.

How shall that faith return again to earth,

Unless that husband send it me from heaven

By leaving earth? Comfort me, counsel me.” (3.5.205-209)

Because Juliet is in such a fragile state and isn’t in her right mind, Juliet isn’t able to hold in her inner thoughts and emotions all to herself. She fully depends on her comforters to enlighten her in some way from her current situations. After Adeline arrived at Tianjin to a border at St. Josephs to be left alone, she decided to write letters to Aunt Baba to feel less alone. Unfortunately, all her sent letters were confiscated for Niang to read. Adeline wrote to Aunt Baba, “Why don’t you write? Why doesn’t anyone send me a letter? I can’t imagine why you don’t reply. You have no idea what it’s like. To be all alone here makes me very, very sad. At night I lie awake for a long time and stare at all the other empty beds in my dormitory. Laid out next to each other like little tombs.” (277) Although Aunt Baba reassures her she would always be there for Adeline, she wasn’t by her side when she was in a deeply lonely state because of the barrier that separated them, Niang. In spite of her loneliness, Adeline learns to find herself and be persistent along her journey. She handles her miserable thoughts and emotions independently although the grudge she held against some of her family members, especially Niang, stabbed her behind her back throughout her childhood.  

All in all, while Juliet received the most emotional and physical support from outside comfort, Adeline didn’t really have anyone to give her as much aid or support to break free from her distressing conditions. Although she may have received minimal consolation, such as when her Aunt kept reassuring her that her talents would be recognized if she continued to work hard, she was ultimately all alone. Her Aunt couldn’t comfort her as much as Juliet’s nurse did to allow Adeline to be free from the burden of her evil stepmother. Even though Juliet constantly expresses her frustration and anger to Friar Lawrence and the nurse because of the wedding plan Capulet forces her to accept, Adeline was limited to any outside comfort. As a matter of fact, she tries to show empathy to her family by excusing their actions, although they profoundly wounded her. Compared to Adeline, Juliet acts on impulse and never thinks about the consequences of the actions she takes. Her main objective was to be with Romeo and to eventually rely on death to be the only solution towards the end of the play. On the other hand, Adeline maintains an elevated spirit and focuses on the prospect of a better future that Aunt Baba has embedded in her mind. By expressing her conviction that she was meant to be valued and recognized in the world, she hopes to show people that with perseverance, a single dream can conquer numerous obstacles.

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