Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It is evident that within works of art or literature during the Renaissance, women played the same role. This role was very similar to the actual roles they carried during these times. Women were portrayed as passive, obedient, sexual, and chaste to say the least. In upper classes, women could be four things; A wife (married off for money), a mother, a daughter (to be married), or a nun. 
In Shakespeare’s work, it is clear that the most important role of a woman in those times was their role as a mother, a woman able to reproduce multiple times. That is all men really wanted, an obedient wife who could provide many kids (boys were preferable). Something I learned from Hammy’s presentation is the fact that women were considered to suffer from “hysteria”, a sense of madness due to the fact that women have a uterus. They labeled this towards women because at the time they didn't really have an explanation for hormonal changes, mood swings, etc. Claiming women were going through hysteria was also a way to knock them down from the independence and strength they may have been gaining. This is seen in Shakespeare's work as well. 
I found it interesting to see how in reality, Shakespeare understood women, more than many men at the time, but he is indeed a product of his environment that is why he couldn't always portray a strong, independent woman. Two strong examples of this are in his works, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is surprisingly pretty independent and in many cases, tells Macbeth what to do. This was not common back then. Macbeth follows along for a few but once we reach Act III, Macbeth completely shuts her off and basically places Lady Macbeth back into the stereotypical role of Renaissance women. Lady Macbeth even begins to contemplate how “all will be fine” if she could only give him a son. This brings up the recurring theme of women being the constant reproducers. In Julius Caesar, the very first line in the play is Julius Caesar discussing Calpurnia’s fertility. I've never realized that. As we read these works,  I tend to look past the obvious signs of the roles these women had. It’s amazing to see how far we've come when portraying women in art, literature, music etc. Although I believe we aren't where we should be, things are far better than they were back during the Renaissance.

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