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Shakespeares Historic Plays: The Role of Women - Essay Example

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The role of women has changed since the time in which Shakespeare’s historic plays were written. Regardless of the change in roles, looking at the role of women in these history plays can learn lessons. There are values hidden beneath each role that can be applied in today’s society…
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Shakespeares Historic Plays: The Role of Women
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Shakespeares Historic Plays: The Role of Women

Download file to see previous pages... In Elizabethan times, the role of women was minimal. Women were not expected to be educated or to work. Only a tutor could educate girls because schools and universities were for boys. Women could work only in domestic services like cooks, maid, attendants, and hostesses. Women were expected to get married and have children. Women were pressured, especially if marred to a King, to produce a male heir. Other roles of women were to bee seen and not heard (women were not to speak out of place), to be subservient to their husbands (serve and obey), and to be a caregiver to the children and take on a wholly domestic role. The women characters in Shakespeare’s historic plays exhibit the roles of women while keeping an allure of identity, independence and strength. Richard II, III, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI all have women characters that portray the role of women on a wide scale.
In Richard II, Queen Isabel portrayed a subservient, obedient, and devoted wife to King Richard. In reality, Queen Isabel was very young when she got married to King Richard but Shakespeare writes her as a grown woman for the sake of her role. She first enters the play by the side of her husband and only says one line, “How fares our noble uncle Lancaster?” (II.i.71) (Bevington 755). Queen Isabel asked about the well being of Lancaster and not the affairs of country and state. Women at that time were to concern themselves only with domestic responsibilities and family. The workings of the country were not of a woman’s business and it was not her place to be involved. For this matter, Queen Isabel did not get involved letting her husband handle those affairs like an obedient wife should. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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