Friday, January 30, 2009

The life and role of English women - 1600's

Macbeth was written around 1606.

According to: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~maggieoh/Macbeth/history.html,

Role and life of Women


In the early 17th century
• Caucasian women during the early 17th century had the privilege of learning basic reading and writing skills.

o Few women continued past the basic learning and most were discouraged to achieve more education.

• After achieving basic education, women were trained to become mothers and house wives.

• Women had no influence in politics and legal issues of the day. Neither did they have a say in government policies.

o Essentially woman had no say in anything men felt women should not be involved in.
• Women had no right to own a business or to hold any of the property once married

• Women could not get a divorce.
o If a woman was divorced, she would be stripped of all real-estate property and would be frowned upon by society.


The real Macbeth:

  • Macbeth was an 11th century Scottish king who actually killed the ruling king, Duncan 1 during 1040.

  • He was known to be a brave leader who ruled honestly and equally, imposing law and succesfully conquering territory


Women in the time of the real Macbeth (late 9th to early 10th century):

  • In the tenth century, a few women achieved power but almost entirely through their fathers, husbands, sons and grandsons

  • Women's value to royal families was as child bearers and as pawns to move around in dynastic marriages

  • Women wore simple clothing that resembled tunics, they were considered housewives and they did house chores or farming.

  • They seldom had power, but some women became queens and conquered land.


In the early 17th century:

  • Caucasian women during the early 17th century had the privilege of learning basic reading and writing skills.
    • Few women continued past the basic learning and most were discouraged to achieve more education.

  • After achieving basic education, women were trained to become mothers and house wives.

  • Women had no influence in politics and legal issues of the day. Neither did they have a say in government policies.
    • Essentially woman had no say in anything men felt women should not be involved in.

  • Women had no right to own a business or to hold any of the property once married

  • Women could not get a divorce.
    • If a woman was divorced, she would be stripped of all real-estate property and would be frowned upon by society.


Women in the 1600's


  • Women wore simple clothing that resembled tunics, they were considered housewives and they did house chores or farming.
  • They seldom had power, but some women became queens and conquered land.

  • Macbeth was a 11th century Scottish king who actually killed the ruling king, Duncan 1 during 1040.

  • He was known to be a brave leader who ruled honestly and equally, imposing law and succesfully conquering territory

  • and succesfully conquering territory


Sources:


http://womenshistory.about.com/library/lists/bl_list_10th_century.htm


http://eportg.cgc.maricopa.edu/published/h/is/history201-activists/document/1/index-2.2.shtml


http://eportg.cgc.maricopa.edu/published/h/is/history201-activists/document/1/index-2.2.shtml


http://www.moondragon.org/costumes/11cdress.html


http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook1j.html

17 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. The social world in 17th century England clearly had a great impact on the life and role of English women at that time. Since literature had only recently had a higher impulse on people, women would without a doubt merely have basic literary education, as men would only have limited education concerning literature as well. Agriculture was also booming at this time; as a result, this was probably one of the main reasons why women were needed at home to be housewives to help with chores and farming. Clearly, the social context and changes at the time largely determined English women’s role in the society, not only the due to the social standards of society.

    - Annie

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  3. Throughout history men have looked down on women, however at times there is evidence that they also feared women. Women had little political power and were restricted to stereotypical house chores. They had to wear simple tunics, were banned most positions of power, and they had little freedom, being discouraged from education and being unable to divorce. Their values to society and to families were as housekeepers, child-bearers, and for marriages convenient to the family. Most of the time this is justified by the argument that men are superior, but it is also evident that men fear women at times. Women could financially destroy or humiliate a man by being disloyal, spending too much, or even witchcraft. Lady Macbeth is a good example; she is supposed to act like a motherly figure, but she tries to throw away her femininity for masculine cruelty and power. Also, despite appearing harmless, she proves to be a ruthless and ambitious wife who has a great influence on Macbeth.
    In ancient times, many cultures had female healers, etc. that held high positions in their community. However in the Middle Ages, most people were Christian and Christians did not practice witchcraft; any act of witchcraft was associated with Paganism and later with the devil. Since witches borrowed their power from the devil, they were greatly feared, and were often seen as bringers of disease, death, and misfortune. For most of the Middle Ages witches were persecuted, and public views were hostile - the stereotype of the witch undoubtedly damaged the views toward women.

    - Martin Koo

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  4. In the early 17th century, women were given very little power and were restricted to things fit for women. This ranged from clothing to house chores to childbearing. Unfortunately, in witchcraft, witches were typically percieved as women. Witches were considered as horrible evil creatures which caused disease and bad fortune. Witches, being commonly associated with the devil at that time, were publicly executed and did not help women improve their social image. This helped further degrade the image of women in society, in spite of the limited power given to them.

    Alan H

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  5. If one considers Macbeth as a history play, it is interesting to explore the roles of women within it. Literature provides the reader with glimpses of historical evidence. The women in Macbeth are the Three Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth. In general, in the early 17th century, women were considered to hold inferior positions in society to men. Married women and wives were to maintain silence and obey fathers and husbands. Women apparently were the weaker sex, physically inferior to men, and more prone to irrationality. In Macbeth, we see a contrast. Both the Three Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth, rather than following men, lead them. Neither are weaker physically. The Three Weird Sisters are able to use their powers to travel in sieves and command the wind. Lady Macbeth runs off with bloody daggers to deposit them with the guards, not worrying, even briefly, about the guards’ possible defence. Similarly, the Three Weird Sisters do not appear irrational: they have their objectives (regicide, to ensure change in governing families, possibly to favour James I) and they follow them. As well, Lady Macbeth’s ambition to be queen is her focus as she channels Macbeth’s personal ambition to regicide. Both the Three Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth crystallize or uncover Macbeth’s regal ambitions, something that Macbeth himself lacks the imagination and courage for. The women might be considered as intentional authors of man’s ruin.

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  6. The social and political context and role of women are highly related. The role of women is determined by the social and political context. The religion ruling over England further influenced the limited role of women in society.

    -Robert

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  7. My group's posting, on the Political and Social Context of England in the early 17th century relates to the role of women at that time because, although their political power was still extremely limited, if not non-existant, they were gaining social rights such as a basic education. This small improvement correlates with the great agricultural and economic improvements in England at the time, because as we have seen during history, more developed countries have been more likely to have more equality between men and women, and the 17th century only marked the beginning of these improvements. The upper and middle class especially were feeling the impacts of the new luxuries of improved trade, and the keepers of the households, or the women, were able to live in better conditions. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is an especially strong character in the beginning of the book, challenging her husband's manliness and practically forcing him to murder the king. She may have been a representation of the improved rights or different views of women at the time of shakespeare.

    -Daniela

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  8. It was during the middle ages that the church began to feel threatend by the pagan religions. The pagan religions were related to satanism, and since christianity was the only religion that did not contain some type of witchcraft in it, witchcraft was thus related to the devil. We can see that women were treated with very little respect and only acted as housewives and childbearers during the early 17th century. They also had no say in anything the men did not want them to have a say in, such as politics. This is related to the earlier fear of witchcraft because only women were witches. Witches were burned and were related to the devil, this probably lead to the eventual global disrespect men had towards women.
    -victor li

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  9. -Expansion on previous point-
    Conservative Catholic views regarding how women should behave can be observed around the early 16th century in England. It was expected that women would not have positions in teaching or leadership over adult males, the family, or the Church. Nor should they be on parish councils, be ushers, lectors, or extrodinary minister of Holy Communion. Finally, wives were supposed to be submissive to their husbands.

    Furthermore, women were expected to dress in a feminine, to wear dresses instead of pants, groom their hair in a feminine manner, etc. They were not supposed to look, dress, or act like men.

    -Robert

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  10. Women during Shakespeare's time was seen as inferior to men. They're value in society was mainly as child bearers and house keepers. The vast majority of women were also discouraged to be educated beyound the basics of reading and writing and were married off to stabilize relationships between families. Due to the way society at that time functioned, women was not as tolerated as men. If a woman were to be seen doing something that was not considered "appropriate", she could be accused of practicing witchcraft, the supposed use of supernatural powers to bring harm.
    Witchcraft is closely associated with the role and views of women during the Shakespearean era as the typical mindset and tolerance of women could easily lead one to believe in the pracdtice of witchcraft.

    ~Sherry

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  11. wait? this blog isn't about chicken :o

    ReplyDelete