Renaissance Family Values and Their Significance to As You Like It

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Renaissance Family Values and Their Significance to As You Like It

When I began my research for this paper, I did not have a good understanding of the term "Renaissance". Therefore, I thought that it was a good idea to clarify on this before I tried to learn about what family life was like at that time, and I also thought it might be interesting to look at Shakespeare's family.

The word "Renaissance" means rebirth and refers to the 15th Century, between the years 1350 and 1600 (Greene Malvasi, par. 1). At this time, there were many changes being undergone, and one of the most important changes was the reappearance of cities, which influenced many aspects of life, including the structure of the family (Greene
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2). A child's parents arranged most marriages, and the details were often worked out well in advance, maybe even when the children were still in infancy (Greene Malvasi, par. 3). A marriage for love was looked upon as ludicrous, whereas marriages were arranged to add to a family's wealth or stature (Greene Malvasi, par. 3). However, we the readers know how those young children of wealthy families in Shakespeare's plays were. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hermia, Eugeus' daughter, is promised to the noble Demetrius. Yet she loves Lysander, and runs off with him to be married in a place outside of her father's rules. In real Renaissance life, children of noble birth ran a great risk if they tried to marry with out the approval of their parents, as they would be left without any resources ("The Age of Marriage", par. 5). This would be a foolish thing for a child to do, especially a male child or a son, as male primogeniture was the law of inheritance. Male primogeniture means that the eldest son inherits everything, even if the eldest child is a girl, unless provisions are made for younger sons ("Heirs and Inheritance", pars. 1-2).

Divorces were far and few between, which may account in part of the skepticism of marring for love. If a family was what we would call a "broken" family, it came from the sense that one parent had died and the other
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