Great Chain: Scala Naturae Essay

Great Chain: Scala Naturae Essay

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Originating in the minds of Aristotle and various other philosophers, the idea of “scala naturae” was developed (Haaramo). This theory centered on the idea of a vertical ladder acting as a unilateral hierarchy of life forms. Starting in the Medieval Period, the Great Chain of Being was developed and reached its height during the Elizabethan Era (Haaramo). The idea of this theory was objective, and served purely as a ranking based on the level of a life form’s development (Carlin). Although this is true, the Elizabethans took advantage of their higher ranking and adopted the theory to fit their lives. Those of a higher status, heavily influenced those below them, so in effect, the inferior ranks’ minds were sculpted to how their superiors desired. The Great Chain was used by the higher rankings to support the dominance and control of European males, the Catholic Church, and the king, over any of their oppositions.
Equality between men and women was not the norm at this time, and the Chain of Being was used to support the idea of men being the dominant gender. Among the physical world, men were viewed as the superior life form above women on the Great Chain (Roots). People interpreted this as men being more developed or advanced than women and this led to a great disparity between the roles of each gender. Men primarily worked either physical labor or those positions which required more knowledge such as sciences and mathematics, versus women who remained at home and cared for the male’s offspring (Elizabethan). Because of the Great Chain, the workforce for men revolved around positions of more prestige and education than what a women was able to pursue. Also, because of their perceived higher rank, men were closer on the chain to G...


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...ext pertains to my topic as an overview and background. Along with the text are different aspects of the Renaissance culture that support and relate to the Great Chain of Being. The information references accurate people and dates along with some information that I've seen in other highly accurate and trusted sites. The audience for this website seems to target a high school audience. At the same time, there doesn't appear to be a specific author which could make this source less reliable, not knowing if a student or professor wrote this.
"Roots of Oppression." Human Animal Liberation. CALM, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. .
Tillyard in a Nutshell. Carson-Newman College, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. .
Valades, Didacus. Rhetorica Christiana. 1579. Photograph.

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