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Gender Roles In Shakespeare's Works Essay

2871 words - 11 pages

The well known and greatly respected, William Shakespeare has written an abundant amount of controversial, thought provoking, and needless to say, captivating plays within his time. His plays were centralized around love, the idea of being in love, and the consequences that may follow. With this being said, many of his plays were easily relatable and at various times his audience saw a mirror image of themselves on stage, which made the experience interactive and psychologically stimulating. In the majority of his plays, the woman in power was never blinded by love, instead, she always seemed to have men at her feet and used them to her advantage. On the contrary, women who were foolishly in love happened to be docile and had little to no power or control of their lives. Is this pattern a coincidence? One can say that Shakespeare was nothing but a mere example of an individual whose writing was influenced by his time. In his era he witnessed the reign of Queen Elizabeth who was the head of state and the most powerful person in England during the 16th century. Along with Mary Tudor and Mary Stuart who were strong, independent, and feared by their people. Additionally, Shakespeare never failed to include women who were viewed as sexual creatures. Therefore, the concept of femininity can be debated. His readers might have wondered what exactly made a feminine woman feminine and how was Shakespeare able to determine this? Also, was Shakespeare influenced by the women in the Elizabethan Age and if so, did he foreshadow the rise of women? Shakespeare incorporated and focused on women who fit the traditional gender role in society and women who opposed their role in a patriarchal society.
Women in the Early Modern Elizabethan Age were economically, emotionally, and socially dependent on men. An educated woman was hard to find, instead, women were more concerned with pleasing their husbands and keeping the house in order. Those were the responsibilities of a good woman. A woman’s education was based on learning how to sew, paint, dance, and play musical instruments. Around this time, women loved to read books but men found it quite emasculating. Women were not allowed to be seen in public without a man because men were protectors and guiders. Men were to provide for their family and control their woman’s sexuality. Being able to bear children was their downfall. Children made them older faster and for many, it led to their death. Women were seen as passive objects, meaning that women were afraid to break free because they had no voice and their identity was stripped from them at an early age. “Man is the agent, woman the patient” (Camden 18). Some even say that biologically, women are inferior. “The fact that female sex organs were inside was viewed as a sign of female inferiority, of women’s colder and damper nature which had not produced the heat necessary to push them out” (Wiesner 57). Women were to live their lives in obedience and inferior...

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