Women in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Taming of the Shrew

1891 Words8 Pages
During the early modern period, despite Queen Elizabeth’s powerful rule in the mid-sixteenth century, women in England had very few social, economic, and legal rights. According to the British system of coverture, a married man and wife became one person under the law, thus, “all the legal rights and responsibilities a woman had when she was single transferred to her husband upon marriage” (McBride-Stetson 189). Additionally, once married, the entirety of a woman’s property and wages came under the husband’s control; thus, in essence, women became the responsibility and property of their husbands (McBride-Stetson 189). Shakespeare, through his writings, illustrates the early modern period’s obsession with maintaining the legal…show more content…
Had Petruccio exclaimed that his goal was to “thrive and wive,” one may be able to argue that he planned on making money in order to attract a wife; however, the order of Petruccio’s proposed goals imply that his “wiving” will, in turn, effect his “thriving.” Furthermore, Petruccio’s note that he will “happily” “wive and thrive” suggests that the source of his happiness will come from his financial gain, a result of his marriage. Petruccio again confirms this by announcing “I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;/ If wealthily, then happily in Padua” (1.2.72-73) Thus, according to Petruccio, if a man can “wive” a woman with a grand dowry that will cause the man to become “wealthy,” he will inevitably live “happily.” Additionally, Petruccio admits, “wealth is burden of my wooing dance” and even if his wife is “foul as…Florentius’ love,” or “As old as Sibyl,” it would not “move him” (1.2.69). Clearly, as the passage describes, Petruccio’s “wooing dance,” or courtship, is motivated by “wealth” and the nature of the woman will not defer him from goal of financial wealth. Petruccio’s disregard for the character of his future wife as well as the identification of the cause-effect relationship between marriage and his personal financial gain resulting in happiness, places the woman outside of the marriage equation. For Petruccio, marrying a wealthy
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