How Does Shakespeare Present Relationship Between Men and Women and How Might a Modern Day Audience Respond?

1866 Words Jan 11th, 2009 8 Pages
How does Shakespeare present relationship between Men and Women and how might a modern day audience respond?

During the time of Shakespeare women lived in a male dominated society. Women In this period had virtually no legal power and lost all right to own all personal property when they married. Men were expected to be the heads of the households. Once a boy turned eight he no longer was required to obey his mother. The ideal woman was believed to be a virgin and a faithful wife. Female honour and social respectability were tied so closely to sexuality that death was often presented as preferable to the loss of female chastity. The relationships between Men and Women In this play do reflect the status between them at the time.
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Hermione is reasonable and rational; she is proud of her self and confident that she has done no wrong. She trusts in her husband to find the truth, where as Leontes completely irrational jealously shows he has no trust. This reflect the imbalanced relationship they have although a modern audience would want Hermione to fight for her rights against this hysterical man, we admire her for her dignity. Although Hermione accepts the charges the lords of the courts show that Hermione is true and loyal and they want “the good truth to be known”. In contrast to the relationship of Hermione and Leontes rests the relationship of Paulina and Antigonus. Unlike Hermione, Paulina is a strong minded and dominant woman and does not let her husband rule her like Hermione does “He shall not rule me”. Paulina and Antigonus seem to contradict the conventional rules of marriage because at the time of the play it was very unusual for a woman to be in control of the marriage. Although in today’s modern society these would be seen as a common normal thing. Therefore a Modern audience would relate more with Paulina and Antigonus and would feel more comfortable watching them. However Leontes expects Antigonus to rule Paulina and control her which reflect the expectations of a Jacobean marriage. A modern audience would be shocked by how forceful Leontes is.”Force her hence”. The contrast in the two marriages reflects the contrast between the two men and the two women, and