Female Roles In The Elizabethan Era

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An era that impacted and shaped the world for the decades to come, the Elizabethan Era was one characterized by British success, yet for women it was not as great as the world perceived it. Women in this era were considered inferior to men in all ways, they were expected to be married young, and to be completely subservient to their husbands, and those who were not, were typically burned at the stake as witches. Being a woman in those times was not exactly a pleasant experience, only the Noble women could be somewhat educated and that was only if their families thought it meanwhile to educate them. Women were not allowed to hold jobs, as their duty was to take care of the household, this made theater and acting exceptionally difficult, because …show more content…
Well Elizabethan England had a different mentality, because of the low opinions of women and what they could do, only men acted. Young boys would be cast for female roles because they had not yet reached puberty and their voices were relatively high. This made the portrayal of female characters difficult, female gender ended up relying solely on costume and the ability of the boy to portray a woman, but plays like “Twelfth Night” complicated this because it is play about a young woman who disguises herself as a man, that required the young boy to act as a girl who pretended to be a boy, making the characterization unstable (Rackin 29). This ironic situation may be somewhat amusing but once analyzed it is evident that this is major dilemma. After all how can a young and amateur boy accurately act as a woman, let alone one who is pretending to be man? Yet Shakespeare takes this dilemma of sexual ambiguity to increase the complexity of his storyline and the message it sends across. In “Twelfth Night” takes advantage of the youthful innocence of the boys who play these roles by attaching it to Viola’s struggle as a female who is pretending to be of another gender (Kelly 91). The audience is always well aware of the all-male cast, and that would have always served to send the subliminal message that maybe a woman should act as the woman, not some young boy. …show more content…
Though her presence seemed to serve as a sort of inspiration for Shakespeare who’s representation of women was celebrative of dominant heroines, yet in his later plays, which were written after the passing Queen Elizabeth I and under the rule of James I (a King described as a misogynist), had weaker heroines who the public tended to not sympathize with (Rackin 31). This slight shift in his form of writing female characters can be attributed to be the fact that the rule of King James I greatly changed the audiences of his plays and his previous style of characterizing women would be rejected. The fact that his plays with dominant women were written under the rule of a woman is logical. But it does not mean that the is the only reason, after all might have the epitome of a independent woman but she was not in any way in advocate for women, under her rule thousands were burned at the stake for witchcraft, when in reality the women were just those who were single or widows and does around them found that unnatural. Shakespeare’s feminist undertones my have diminished in his later years as a writer but that does not take away the countless of strong women who achieved things for themselves, that he wrote

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