A huge obstacle that women only in the near past have been able to conquer is their status in society. Women today have the freedom to take up any profession they desire, attend any school they desire, and most importantly marry anyone they desire. In the 16th-18th centuries, the time of the Renaissance, rebirth, and discovery of grand new worlds, women possessed the status of children in many ways; women were considered minors dependent on their fathers until marriage when that dependency transferred to their husbands. They could not own land, they could not be educated, and they most importantly could not marry whom they chose. The poor could possibly marry for love, but the new wealthy merchant class and the nobility married for political reasons: to increase the fortunes of husbands, for women to enter nobility, or vise versa. This reasoning affected every facet of women’s lives. One of the most important women it affected was Queen Elizabeth I. However, it affected her in a less direct way, as she did not have a father arranging a marriage for her.
The lowly status of women is clearly illustrated in the movie Shakespeare in Love. In this movie, Viola, the heroine, is married off to Wessex, deliciously horrible and broke. Viola’s father is a wealthy merchant; her dowry is 5000 pounds. Wessex, a member of the nobility, wishes to marry Viola as an investment in order to recover his fortune. Viola expresses her feelings on this matter on the morning of her wedding day, saying to her father: "I see you are open for business, so let’s to church." She has absolutely no say in this "business transaction." Her father knows, Wessex knows, and even Queen Elizabeth I knows that Viola does not love him. Sh...
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...ribed in her poem "On Monsieur’s Departure." In it she describes her love for the Duke and her misery in being forced to deny this love. "I love and yet am forced to seem to hate, / I do, yet dare not say I ever meant…" She loves him passionately, but denies that love in order to protect her position as Queen of England.
Queen Elizabeth loved a man passionately, but also loved her country and the running of it passionately. She would not give up that responsibility for love. This is illustrated in various works, young and old, from 16th century poems to present day movies. These works also illustrate the status women held during Queen Elizabeth’s time and the attitude held toward marriage. One last thing these works illustrate is how far society has come in increasing the status of women and bestowing on women the rights of love and the freedoms they have today.
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