Currently, there are nineteen female heads of state who hold power over entire nations. This figure does not include women of royalty. These nineteen women are elected chancellors and presidents of their respective countries. Before the seventeenth century, a woman in power was not only non-existent, but also completely against the common beliefs about women. During this time, the common preconception of women was that they were the ‘gentler sex’ and therefore, had to be sheltered and kept at home. A woman’s role was not only to be at home, but also to be dutiful and subject to her father or husband. These preconceptions about women dominate human consciousness till this day, but in the seventeenth century the views that people had about women began to change. Women were beginning to take a higher status in society and were gradually obtaining recognition as being closer to men in terms of intellect, reason, and other traits that were previously thought of as exclusive to men. In the seventeenth century, the work of Shakespeare and Moliere are two examples of how literature of this time began to reflect the changing views of society towards women. The transitioning ideas about women manifest themselves in The Tempest and Tartuffe; Miranda from The Tempest is the traditional seventeenth century woman, while Dorine and Elmire from Tartuffe are examples of the ‘modern woman’.
In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda is portrayed with the typical traits that, according to pre-seventeenth century ideals, women should have. Miranda is well mannered, dutiful, and innocent; she is the epitome of virtue. All the good traits that Miranda has, however, are used to show that she is subject to her father’s will. Prospero, Miranda’s f...
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... context of the changes going on in society, they can see the clear influences that the culture had on the creation of these works. Reviewing these works will provide insight into the beginnings of the changing roles of women in society. It will also show how in just a short time, beliefs and common preconceptions change. The Tempest and Tartuffe were written fifty years apart and were written in different countries, so, one can make the case that the changes in society were contained within the borders of its respective nation. However, what is good about literature is that it transcends borders. The ideas presented in literary works can spread around the world, and perhaps even cause change instead of being shaped by it.
Damrosch, David, and David L. Pike, eds. The Longman Anthology of World Literature.
Education, 2009. Print
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