Social Status in Shakespeare's Plays

2035 Words9 Pages
In Shakespeare's time, the English lived with a strong sense of social class -- of belonging to a particular group because of occupation, wealth, and ancestry. Elizabethan Society had a very strict social code at the time that Shakespeare was writing his plays. Social class could determine all sorts of things, from what a person could wear to where he could live to what jobs his children could get. Some families moved from one class to another, but most people were born into a particular class and stayed there. There was a chance of being granted a title by the crown. This was uncommon at the time and a relatively new thing for Europe where ancestry always defined nobility. Shakespeare's plays show the different social statuses throughout…show more content…
The fact that the people were born into what social class they had to live in leaves them from exploring themselves and potential. They are only allowed to aspire so high, and that defeats the purpose of find oneself because they are told what they are going to be. Shakespeare questions the rigidity of social class in the play, Alls Well That Ends Well, because he portrays Helen as being equal to Bertram because of deed and not birth. The King sees nothing wrong with Helen picking someone to marry that is high above her in social standing. He's even willing to grant her a title to make her equal to Bertram. The King says it is just Helen's status that Bertram disdains, but I'm not sure if it is. I think in this case that Bertram is more worried about tainted blood entering his family. The nobility only married the nobility because of the fact that their blood was considered to be more pure and clean. In the case of Helen she was of the working class which meant her blood wasn't of the pure and clean type that she was a base commoner. Nobility didn't like to think that their blood should be mixed with that of the commoners and the lower classes. At least not in the case of the first born sons or the daughters of the nobility. In the case of social identities being formed in Shakespeare's plays I feel as though he's
Get Access