Although there were no wars during the Elizabethan era, life was hard for most people. There were four different social classes determined by how much money people had and what they did for a living (Lace 42-46). There was trash in the streets and poor sanitation. Boys went to school while girls stayed home and learned how to run the house from their mothers (Davis 91). People generally worked long hours during the week and spent the weekends doing activities and attending plays (Davis 341). Generally the Elizabethan era was good for wealthy people and could be a struggle for poor people (Lace
Sixteenth century England was the Elizabethan era, with an unmarried woman as the Queen. Even though there was a woman on the throne, the expectations of women did not change and stayed very much similar to when men were King.
In the Elizabethan period, women were subordinate to men. They were considered to be inferior' beings who were controlled by their husbands, fathers or any other men in the family. Women were not allowed to hold their own opinions, views or lifestyles. Men had control of everything, some of these included money, politics, work, children, women and home.
During the medieval times, women were not seen as they are today. Although in the world today there are still those who are full of misogyny, it was much more common and intense during this time period. Women during the middle ages had specific roles assigned to them in society. These roles depended on the type of women they were, whether it be a peasant, noble woman, or an evil temptress. These roles that women have served have shown up in numerous stories from the middle ages including: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Wife’s Lament.
From housewives to educated intellectuals, the roles of women in society have evolved throughout the years. Factors such as wealth, status did affect their roles in the 1700s, but overall every woman had their own place in society. The line between male and female was very distinctive. Substantial events such as the American Revolution, played a big role in modifying gender roles. Women impacted the war in great ways. They proved their capability in more than just being basic housewives. Their heroic activity all the way through the war led them both into an adequate and better off state.
Marriages tended to be for strategic purposes rather than love, so family life in the Elizabethan Era was different than family life today ("Elizabethan Family Life” 1).
Women in the mid-1600s to mid-1700s underwent pivotal changes. While these changes would alter their roles in the colonies, certain aspects of their responsibilities remained the same.
In the sixteenth century the role of women in society was very limited. Women were generally stereotyped as housewives and mothers. They were to be married, living their life providing for her husband and children. The patriarchal values of the Elizabethan times regarded women as the weaker sex.’ Men were considered the dominant gender and were treated with the utmost respect by females. Women were mainly restricted within the confines of their homes and were not allowed to go school or to university, but they could be educated at home by private tutors. Men were said to be the ones to provide for their families financially. Women were often seen as not intelligent. Property could not be titled in the name of a female within the family. Legally everything the female had belonged to her husband. Poor and middle class wives were kept very busy but rich women were not idle either. In a big house they had to organize and supervise the servants.
Elizabethan era marriages differ from the marriages carried out today. In the Elizabethan era most of the marriages were arranged by the spouse’s parents, but in this new era you start finding love by meeting a person you find attractive, then you start dating, next you get engaged, and finally you get married! We usually know that in the Elizabethan era it was very ridiculous to marry someone because of love even if love may occur sometimes in marriage. The only reason why the parents organized the marriages was because the two sides of the groom and bride families received benefits from one another. According to the Elizabethan England life website it says that the marriages were arranged for wealth and reputation. In other words, the parents just wanted power, money, and royalty.
If there was a marriage, the women would have to have money. Before marriage, women were still expected to remain silent and pure. Virginity was important to a man looking for his bride and women that didn’t have all the qualifications were considered prostitutes. Single women were expected to stay virgins throughout their entire lives. Marriage was seen as a way of control for men, a way in which to ensure that the women did what was expected of them. Women wore layers of leather or wood which flattened the breasts and this made them less desirable because they did not have feminine features. They also did this so that men have more possession of their wife. The treatment of women in marriages was unfair and cruel. If a woman were to become impregnated, she would have to hide the pregnancy because of her reputation. This happened all across Europe for many years during the Elizabethan
The women of the Elizabethan era were expected to be silent and obedient to men in society. They did not have any rights and were seen as property to a man. The women of the Elizabethan era were given education only if they were of noble birth. Otherwise, they had to stay home and learn to run the household. For Elizabethan era women of noble birth, education included knowledge of several languages, including Latin, Greek, Italian, and French. However, even noble women were not allowed to go to university and were only taught by tutors who visited them in their home. Gender roles during the Elizabethan era were clearly defined, with men reigning superior over women. Men really had an enormous influence over women. While a man went out to work,
Women of today are still not considered equal to men in several aspects, but compared to just a few decades ago, women are living the good life. Women from ancient time to now have not had the same privileges as men have. Women’s roles have changed significantly from the Elizabethan era to now, yet alone from ancient times, transitioning from property to property owners and from uneducated to educators was a big change for the social placement of women. A 13th-century Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas said that woman was "created to be man's helpmeet, but her unique role is in conception . . .
The Elizabethan age regarded women’s sexuality as a form of currency. In England’s social structure currency was a means to power. A woman’s virginity was something to be bargained for, and when the time was right, sold to the highest bidder. In modern day, this slightly resembles prostitution, but during Elizabethan times selling a daughter’s virginity was the quickest way up the social ladder. During this time, the sacrifice of virginity implies marriage. Young women rarely married on the idea of love alone, due to the father’s interests in finding an ideal husband that will strengthen the family’s position within the community. Author of Shakespeare’s Women, Angela Pitt states “if for some reason it was impractical for a girl to marry she was encouraged to enter a nunnery,” (15). English women were predominantly ignored outside of the matrimonial and spiritual world.
Elizabethan marriages were a very large ordeal involving not only the town but the families of both parties. The large ordeal was not only unnecessary but also very time consuming and stressful. Marriages, birth, and deaths were all the three cycles of life that were dealt with in the church (Evans 6-7). Marriages that were done by law and not church were not registered as there were no witnesses to the betrothal. Church marriages were common and proper as they would be recorded by the pastor (Harrison 1640). Fathers could get rid of their daughters by marrying them off or if he didn’t, when the daughter came of age, the parents would arrange a marriage for the young teenaged girl to a much older man (Evans 6-7). At fourteen, a child had been responsible for all their actions long ago and was now ripe with puberty and at thirty, a man could be financially stable enough to provide for a bride and any children she might bring. All the girl’s possessions would go to the man so wealthy women never remained single for long. If problems in the marriage arose, nothing could be done because the rules of the church stated that marriage lasted until the death of each party. Not only were marriages done without the age of both parties in mind, but marriages were not for love. Families married to carry on the family surname and increase possessions and
Shakespeare and the members of the Elizabethan era would be appalled at the freedoms women experience today. The docility of Elizabethan women is almost a forgotten way of life. What we see throughout Shakespeare’s plays is an insight into the female character as perceived by Elizabethan culture. Shakespeare’s female characters reflect the Elizabethan era’s image of women; they were to be virtuous and obedient and those that were not were portrayed as undesirable and even evil.