Social Status in Shakespeares Plays

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In Shakespeare's time, the English lived with a strong sense of social class -- of belonging to a particular group because of occupation, wealth, and ancestry. Elizabethan Society had a very strict social code at the time that Shakespeare was writing his plays. Social class could determine all sorts of things, from what a person could wear to where he could live to what jobs his children could get. Some families moved from one class to another, but most people were born into a particular class and stayed there. There was a chance of being granted a title by the crown. This was uncommon at the time and a relatively new thing for Europe where ancestry always defined nobility.
Shakespeare’s plays show the different social statuses throughout England because of his audience. He had a variety of social classes that would attend his plays and go to the theater. Most of his plays have a way of identifying with whoever would be in the audience watching. Each different social class has a chance to relate to one of the characters in his plays. In Alls Well That Ends Well, it is the working class that would be able to relate to Helen’s problem. She is the product of a working class family, and therefore thought to be below the nobility. She wasn’t born from a great titled family that has had its name for centuries therefore she is not equal to Bertram.
The play, As You Like It, deals with the Elizabethan social status among the nobility. This play has a lot to do with the act of primogeniture. This play shows that even if people were born of the nobility there was still the chance that they weren’t as good as the rest of the nobility. The second born sons and daughters of the nobility weren’t as important as the first born sons. It was the first born sons that inherited the titles, or they would have to be given to the husband of the daughter. The general audience was that of gentler born younger sons, adults as well as the youths that were still apprentices or students in school. This play opens up with a fight between siblings because of social hierarchy causing them to be put at odds. Primogeniture was not a binding law but rather a flexible social custom in which the propertied sough to perpetuate themselves by preserving their estates intact through successive generations. His play shows that even if th...

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...undaries set were not to be crossed. Your social class you were born into was where you were to remain and your family was to remain. People weren’t supposed to look forward to bettering themselves in society’s eyes because it was near impossible. Even the nobles that were granted titles were looked at as “new men” and not given the same credence as those of the regular nobility. It was in Shakespeare’s plays that these people could come together though.
Shakespeare’s theaters were open to all that could afford to come. His plays included every social class in some light. The audience couldn’t help but be drawn into what Shakespeare was saying in his plays because they were all involved in them. The only people that really couldn’t attend his plays were the lowest of laborers and that was because they couldn’t afford it. The variety of people in the audience helped Shakespeare’s plays really take off because of how they spoke to everyone instead of just one class in the social structure. He made fun of the nobility in my eyes, but at the same time I see it as him telling the truth and what we really find funny is is that it really did happen that way
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