Family Life In William Shakespeare's The Empire Of My Heart

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“The Empire of My Heart” underlines the conflicting beliefs held by a couple on gender roles within the emerging plantation economy in Chesapeake. Unlike in Massachusetts, mortality rates were high in Chesapeake, this led to the scarcity of marriages and family life. As men gradually began to live longer they began to resume their patriarchal authority over their spouse, children and slaves. Prior to this change in life expectancy, women played an active role in family life, such as fixing labor shortages and helping supply basic family needs. Once longevity was established in family life, men looked to their mother country for models on behavior and family organization. The new model adopted in England was in direct confliction with William …show more content…
However, both William and Lucy had differing views on this new family model and it was delineated in their disorderly marriage. In this paragraph I will describe what William’s beliefs were toward marriage and the objectives he hoped to obtain. William was always in search for power, both in his family life and career. His initial objective when pursuing Lucy was to marry her to further his political ambition. This motive derived from the fact that Lucy’s father served in the House of Burgesses and on the governor’s council. Some scholar’s argue the marital difficulties between the two have to do with William’s insecurities and the large difference between the two in age, 13 years. William’s envisioned himself as the patriarch of Westover, having complete authority over his land, family members, servants, and slaves (Treckel). William’s aspiration was to mold Lucy’s thoughts and actions into what he deemed …show more content…
In short, Lucy had a more modern belief towards gender roles, in fact similar to the new model adopted in England, in direct comparison to her husband’s outdated patriarchal preferences. Lucy demanded a more affectionate marriage with her husband. However he continued to remain distant, this is just one of the contributing factors as to why Lucy refused to submit to her husband’s will. A possible explanation for Lucy’s behavior lies in what she had witnessed throughout her childhood between her mother and father. Lucy’s demanding father, similar to William, humiliated Lucy’s obedient mother. Possibly Lucy feared the same conclusion as what happened to her mother, therefore, she refused to succumb to her husband’s authority. Much of the expectations society held women accountable to were unfair and reflected a belief of inferiority, however, Lucy challenged that notion. Lucy was taught throughout her childhood on proper household management, it was only right that she exercised her learnings in her household, yet her husband refused to, even though many other wives were. Although Lucy’s extravagance challenged William’s command, in the end she submitted to his will (Treckel). Lucy’s persistence to build a more loving relationship with her husband was continually rejected. For example, he rejected her access to his library because he knew knowledge was a source of superiority and he

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