...class. This play also reflects the beginning class structure of the early modern European society. The European society was based sex and classes (Fiero, 2011).
The nexus of status, gender, and societal roles are consistently topics of interest among people, and can be found throughout the plays of William Shakespeare. More evident in their original production, however, through modern renditions and personal interpretation of readings these topics reoccur often His work dictated specific roles for men and women. Through analyzing said roles one can derive insights regarding the esteem of women and how the relative devaluing of women shaped normal gender roles. However, Shakespeare provides conflicting interpretations, dependent upon the light in which his work is read. Among the possible differing interpretations of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” stands a reoccurring argument throughout history of, men vs. women in a battle of status/power. After reading the play one could make the argument that women are inferior to their counterparts, however, at the same time, the argument could be made that women have more power than men, and both positions be considered accurate.
Imagine being a woman in sixteenth century Europe. Females were raised to believe that they were subservient and that men knew better on any subject. Basically, women had no rights. They were considered property, first “owned” by their fathers and then control was “transferred” to the husband chosen for them. Marriage was not about love, but in most cases, it was a business deal that was mutually beneficial to both families – an interesting fact is that like young women, most young men had no choice in the selection of their future betrothed. These traditions and the gender roles assumed by men and women at that time had an impact on Shakespeare’s writing and performances and a great example of this is evident in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Centuries ago in Elizabethan England there were many traditions about marriage and the treatment of women. One strong tradition of these times was the practice of marriage between races. Interracial marriages were considered extremely taboo. (High Beam). In this era marriages were arranged by the parents with strong help from the local church. The individuals had little choice as to who they would marry. (Elizabethan England Life). Yet another example of these traditions was the respectable treatment of women. While the husband was in charge of his wife, as was the father, the husband were expected to treat the women right (Elizbethi). In spurning all of these traditions, Shakespeare demonstrates a view of marriage far different from that of Elizabethan England, in doing this he is trying to plant new ideas in the people who read or view the play.
According to Elizabethan society, the center of Olivia’s dilemma with her marriage was ensuring her wealth, not marrying a man she loved (Joseph 170). Social class increases division among individuals in society. This play “ is not the story of a Juliet's or an Orlando's love .., but of the very realistic struggles and intrigues over the betrothal of a rich Countess, whose selection of a mate determines the future” (170). Readers looking past these boundaries created by class and gender, can find striking similarities in emotions characters have for each other. The personal struggles the characters face in this play demonstrate the obstacles that individuals faced because of their gender or place in the social hierarchy.
By examining Shakespeare’s treatment of familial ties in his plays The Life and Death of King John and The Winter’s Tale, we can see how his attitudes and opinions towards family relationships evolved. In King John (written between 1594 and 1596), Shakespeare adopts what was then a fairly conventional attitude towards family relationships: his characters never question the highly patriarchal family hierarchy. They also assume that the majority of wives will be unfaithful, simply because they are female—however, they take the charge of adultery rather lightly. By contrast, in The Winter’s Tale (written between 1610 and 1611), he adopts a much more progressive, feminist view of family relationships. Women have a higher standing and more power in The Winter’s Tale than they do in King John. Also, Shakespeare mocks and punishes husbands that assume their wives are unfaithful without sound evidence. In both plays, he criticizes power-based and political relationships, albeit in two very different ways. In all probability, Shakespeare’s increasingly radical thinking changed Elizabethan society.
Society in the16th century was highly structured. Women of the upper class were expected to be trophies for their husbands. The men were required to hunt, lead, and go into battle. If one chose not to follow these dictates, the rest of society would question, look down on, or even punish the deviant. The prominent author, William Shakespeare, placed this subject into comedy and tragedy plays with dramatically different outcomes. In Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare makes fun of stereotypical gender roles by establishing Beatrice and Lady Macbeth as the dominant characters over Benedick and Macbeth through imagery, dialogue, and character personalities.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live during the Elizabethan Era? To see the works of great playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson firsthand? The theater was one of the cornerstones of Elizabethan life, and many people knew the works of Shakespeare and Jonson. While Shakespeare was arguably the greatest of the time, many other playwrights, including Jonson, flourished during this time period.
In a society, social classes are always present – whether it was five hundred years ago or in present time. Social classes have always existed and will probably always exist. The question is whether social classes have an impact on the society of a little Italian town called Verona in the fifteenth century. Because one thing is for sure, compared to today norms, social classes and gender rolls in the story about Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet differs a lot.
Throughout Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, there is an overlaying presence of the typical roles that men and women were supposed to play. During Elizabethan times there was a major difference between the way men and women were supposed to act. Men typically were supposed to be masculine and powerful, and defend the honor. Women, on the other hand, were supposed to be subservient to their men in their lives and do as ever they wished. In Romeo and Juliet the typical gender roles that men and women were supposed to play had an influence on the fate of their lives.