• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10

From your reading of "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Much Ado About Nothing" what do you learn from the status and expectations of women in the sixteenth century?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

From your reading of "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Much Ado About Nothing" what do you learn from the status and expectations of women in the sixteenth century? How far do the relationships, as explored by Shakespeare, seem to agree with perceptions gleaned from your wider research into his life and times? William Shakespeare was a fantastic playwright whose works still move us even today, centuries later. The universal themes expressed in his plays have lost no potency with the passage of years, and this remarkable mans legacy is as alive today in the minds of readers and audiences everywhere. The role of women has changed greatly throughout the centuries. Today in the twenty first century women are treated as equals to men, they have just as many rights and are given just as many opportunities. Today women are career striving and it is quite acceptable for the man to stay in the home and look after the children while the woman goes out to work each day. They are far readier to take on responsibilities of home and childcare and to enjoy an equal partnership with their wives. Women today enjoy equality in education, politics and the workplace. The ready availability of birth control means that women can choose to marry and have families but still maintain the right to career opportunities. Things were very different in Shakespeare's day. Wives were the property of their husbands and although some women were more independent than others, every woman expected to get married and to depend on her male relatives throughout her life. The Taming of the Shrew is generally grouped among Shakespeare's "early comedies". This group could also loosely be termed as his "romantic comedies". Its essential characteristics are its light hearted or slapstick humour, disguises and deception, and a happy ending in which nearly everybody comes out satisfied. Like many of Shakespeare's romantic comedies, The Taming of the Shrew focuses on marriage. ...read more.

Middle

She is speaking to her sister and Hortensio's widow, about how a wife must be subservient to her husband because she now belongs to him. Her words are: " Thy husband is they Lord, thy life, thy keeper They head, they sovereign; one that cares for thee... ...My mind has been as big as one of yours My heart as great, my reason haply more To bandy word for word, and frown for frown But now I see our lances are but straws." The above mainly outlines the aspects of the play that show similarities with perceptions of the time in which it is set, however, there are also many differences. Shakespeare leads us into suspecting that Katherine may not be truly tamed but is just very cleverly playing along with what Petruchio would like, this way she gets what she wants and is able to lead an easy life. This is unlikely, women in the sixteenth century usually had the utmost respect for there husbands and would not even begin to think of deceiving them. Shakespeare has probably allowed us think along these lines as it leaves the play open to interpretation and allows for a much more open and interesting end to the story. This way the play is something out of the ordinary and will stay in the reader or audiences mind long after it has finished. The fact that after the wedding both Bianca and Hortensio's widow refuse to obey their husbands commands also shows a spirit not expected of women of that time. Much Ado About Nothing is also one of Shakespeare's plays loosely termed as his "romantic comedies" it shares many of the same essential characteristics being a story of reluctant love and sexual confrontation. It is set in Messina, Sicily. The governor Leonato, and his daughter Hero, and her cousin Beatrice (Antonio's daughter) learn from a messenger that Don Pedro has won victory in a battle and is returning home. ...read more.

Conclusion

In fact in the play it is almost as if Beatrice has tamed Benedick. She has found a man who once vowed to remain a bachelor until the day he died but falls in love and is prepared to marry her, make her happy and treat her on equal terms. In Benedick's words: "In brief, since I do propose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world I can say against; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is not a giddy thing; and this is my conclusion." The fact that Shakespeare introduced a relationship where both the man and the woman treated each other as equals suggests to me that Shakespeare has a positive attitude towards women; he believes that their opinions should be valued and they should be treated with respect. However this totally contradicts the ideas that come across from the way he discussed the situation Hero found herself in. What was Shakespeare's attitude towards women and does he really show his feelings within his writing? In conclusion I would say that the plays The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing in general do fit in with perceptions of typical sixteenth century courtship and marriage which I have gathered from my wider research into Shakespeare's life and times. I feel that Shakespeare's attitude to women was what was to be expected of any man living in this period. His beliefs came from those of the people he had grown up with and they were nothing out of the ordinary. I believe that any differences found in his writings were added to make the plays seem more exciting. At the time it would have seemed almost rebellious for people to think in such ways and this would have made Shakespeare a popular playwright as he was introducing new ideas, however preposterous they seemed at the time. We could say that the ideas portrayed in Shakespeare's plays were ahead of the time in which they were set, however unintentional this may be. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Much Ado About Nothing section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Much Ado About Nothing essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    An Exploration of the Theme of Love inMuch Ado About Nothing ...

    4 star(s)

    Beatrice also accepts the word of her friends Hero and Ursula almost immediately. A parallel within Much Ado is that deception brings Benedick and Beatrice together; it tears Claudio and Hero apart. Even though Claudio and Hero are the central love theme in the play, the audience is introduced to

  2. Compare the characters of Hero and Beatrice, as they are presented by language and ...

    The descriptions of the two characters from their suitors differ as well. When Claudio is speaking about Hero, he uses elaborate metaphors and speaks in blank verse Claudio: You seemed to me as Dian in her orb As chaste as in the bud ere it be blown Here he is

  1. Much Ado About Nothing clearly shows the attitude of the Elizabethans towards women and ...

    When Hero was publicly humiliated on her wedding day for supposedly having "spoken" with another man the night before the wedding even Leonato believed Claudio and the Prince Don Pedro rather than trusting his daughter. Leonato says "Hath no man's dagger here a point for me?"

  2. Much Ado About Nothing - Elizabethan Women

    Beatrice has an impish side to her, this is reflected when in 1.1.28 Beatrice says, "I pray you, is Signior Montano returned..." Mountanto refers to a fencing term for an upwards thrust so her sentence has a slight sexual undertone.

  1. How far does Shakespeare challenge Elizabethan society's ideas about gender in Much Ado about ...

    When Don Pedro informs him the accusations are not true, he springs back to his former posturing self, quoting lines such as "Silence is the perfectest herald of joy" which may be a discreet suggestion to the behaviour of Hero as he sees her as an object of happiness even

  2. How does Shakespeare dramatically present power and authority in the relationship between men and ...

    Throughout the play, the language between Benedict and Beatrice is full of sallies and combative puns which is an indication of the power each has. They are portrayed as absolute equals. Leonato's acute observation that Beatrice and Benedick are involved in a "merry war" enables Shakespeare to dramatically present Beatrice

  1. How does Shakespeare present the relationship of Beatrice and Benedick in "Much Ado About ...

    They are comfortable, which is demonstrated when he touches her hand. The mood, however, suddenly changes when Benedick says that he will do anything for her, and she replies, "Kill Claudio". This selfish request is refused at first. In response Beatrice says that if he will not do this for her, he does not truly love her.

  2. "Far from endorsing a conventional idea of the battle of the sexes, Much Ado ...

    He could not however make a distinctive statement in his plays like the atypical female role rejecting the admirations of the male suitor and not falling in love with him, irrespective of the fact that Queen Elizabeth did not publicly accept any advances from the many suitors who approached her.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work