The Threat Of Women During The Jacobean Era

1989 words - 8 pages

Why were women looked so far down upon by men within the revenge tragedies discussed in class? Was this simply a theme or was this reality? During the Renaissance Era men looked at women as if they were threats. Men were very dominant in society and women did not hold any political positions, unless they were royal. However even a royal woman did not have much to say next to a man. Women’s good looks and sexuality made men feel threatened and in turn they portrayed women as either, angelic or promiscuous. ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and The Spanish Tragedy have the typical revenger tragedy plot where women are looked at as either angelic or promiscuous in which men look down upon them without having a say.
Laurie A. Finke’s, Painting Women: Images of Femininity in Jacobean Tragedy, uses the term “painting women” to describe the way women were dolled up and treated during the Jacobean Era. Finke describes women as only having two roles; a wife or a whore. In this excerpt it describes how men were ultimately scared of the women and the power women could gain through their beauty and through their promiscuity. Matthew R. Martin’s, The Raw and Cooked in Ford’s Tis Pity She’s a Whore, mainly discusses the use of the heart on Giovanni’s dagger, which happens to be his sister Annabella’s. Martin discusses how the use of the heart is using the female body as way to describe the disgrace of women, how men have all the power, and that all the problems that men have are directly related to women. Roxanne Grimmett’s, ‘By Heaven and Hell: Re- evaluating representation of woman and the angle/ whore dichotomy in Renaissance Revenge Tragedy, discusses the male dominance of this time period, how females were not allowed to have any kind of voice in society and were looked at as either angelic or promiscuous.
Throughout the many Jacobean plays that we have read during the semester woman are looked at as pure or dirty, they are wife material or they are used for male pleasure only. During this time period this idea of male dominance in the plays and reality was identical. Women were not allowed to have a voice. Women were taught at a young age that they were to marry “up” in society, to ultimately help their family out financially. Laurie Finke describes women as being painted during the Renaissance. These traditions lead to many unhappy marriages and misfortunes for women. If the husband was not sexually attracted to the wife then that would lead the husband to stray away from marriage. Even if the wife had kept her virtue until marriage, the husband often looked at the wife as pure and untouchable. Misogyny throughout the play was not just a theme but also a structure of the Renaissance patriarchy. There were two types of paintings in the these plays, “ Men painting woman as a lifeless dismembered object and woman painting herself to conform- pathetically- to the tragically double image men have of her” (Fink_). Destructiveness was used when men thought...

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