Womens Place In Elizabethan Society

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Womens Place In Elizabethan Society

  1. 1. Women’s place in Elizabethan Society
  2. 2. <ul><li>William Shakespeare was part of a society where women were subservient to men </li></ul><ul><li>Women were the property of their father until they married </li></ul><ul><li>Once married they became the property of their husband </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>A woman could rule a country but if she were to marry, all her power and wealth would pass directly to her husband </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s rights were restricted legally, socially and economically </li></ul>
  4. 4. Homily on the state of Matrimony <ul><li>Religion was a powerful instrument used to enforce the belief of male superiority </li></ul><ul><li>Homily on the state of Matrimony was frequently read aloud in church </li></ul><ul><li>It ordered wives to obey their husbands </li></ul><ul><li>It instructed husbands that ‘the woman is a frail vessel and thou art therefore made the ruler and head over her’ </li></ul>
  5. 5. Do the women in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ conform to Elizabethan society? <ul><li>It is hard to determine whether or not Shakespearian comedy is clearly a product of Elizabethan Courtly society </li></ul><ul><li>A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so unrealistic and original that it could have come from any period in time </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>An important critical question about the historical content of this play is </li></ul><ul><li>What was Shakespeare’s attitude towards women and their place in society? </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>In Shakespeare’s comedies, the female characters have the major parts and as many words as men </li></ul><ul><li>Their actions powerfully influence or direct the development of the plot </li></ul><ul><li>They appear witty and intelligent and can hold their own with men in dialogue </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Elizabethan Theatre <ul><li>At the time Shakespeare was writing, women were not allowed to be actors </li></ul><ul><li>All the female characters were played by young men </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore we have to ask the question, was Shakespeare writing witty, intelligent, lines for his female characters or for the male actors who portrayed them? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Do Shakespeare’s female characters conform or subvert negative stereotypes of women as weak, submissive and pliable?
  10. 10. <ul><li>The women in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream do appear to enjoy some freedom and independence </li></ul><ul><li>Both Hermia and Helena take off into the forest despite its danger </li></ul><ul><li>Hermia disobeys her stern, patriarchal father </li></ul><ul><li>Helena is determined to get her man and doesn’t appear to be constrained by a father </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The marriages at the end of the play do reflect women’s place in Elizabethan society with the female characters becoming the ‘property’ of their husbands </li></ul>

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