Essay on Women in Renaissance Tragedy A Mirror of Masculine Society

Essay on Women in Renaissance Tragedy A Mirror of Masculine Society

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Women in Renaissance Tragedy A Mirror of Masculine Society
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The life of Renaissance women was not one that was conducive to independence, or much else, outside of their obligations to her husband and the running of the household in general. Women, viewed as property in Renaissance culture, were valued for their class, position, and the wealth (or lack thereof) that they would bring into a marriage. This being said, the role of women in the literature of the day reflects the cultural biases that were an ingrained part of everyday life. The depiction of women in theatre particularly, is evidence of the patriarchal society that dominated the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. And as the genre of tragedy emerges into Renaissance culture, the depictions of women as romantic ideals to be worshipped and sacrificed for are slowly replaced by images of the female as a tragic catalyst for many of the leading male characters.
The literary significance of these characters is largely due to these depictions and, while the male dominated society still precludes them from assuming a more powerful and positive role in the theatre, they are no less important to the overall movement of such tragedies as anonymously penned The Arden of Faversham and Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy. These two plays hold a wealth of examples of the female catalyst in theatre. Particularly in examining the roles of Alice in The Arden of Faversham and Bel-Imperia of The Spanish Tragedy the audience is presented with two different ideas on women in Renaissance culture. Alice, the conniving, and conspiring adulteress is an intensely catalytic force throughout The Arden of Faversham, while Bel-Imperia is evidence of the chaste and male-defined...


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...minine characters do much more than stand and "look pretty." Although the female entities present in each of these plays remain confined to a masculine definition of feminine stereotypes, they nonetheless accomplish a great deal in the plays themselves.
The forward momentum provided by these women, in these plays, is crucial to each plot in very powerful ways. And although each of these women do little outside of what the patriarchal and male dominated society of the time would allow, they assert themselves as catalysts within the plays, and within the genre itself. Women in the Renaissance had little control over their own fates, and although these two examples fall within the stereotypical ideas men held on women, they nonetheless demonstrate the crucial, and necessary, presence of women and their consequent influence over life and society in any time period.

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