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Role of Women in Elizabethan England

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Emma Seeley

on 4 January 2013

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Transcript of Role of Women in Elizabethan England

A wealthy woman on the left and a lower class woman on the right. Role of Women in
Elizabethan England All women faced oppression when it came to education. It did not matter if a girl was wealthy or not, she was not allowed to go to school with the boys. However, if she happened to be from a wealthy family, she could hire a tutor. From around the age of five she would have a tutor come almost every day and teach her language and arts. A girl would have to learn Latin, Greek, Italian and French alongside English, while also learning how to dance and make music. There were no universities for women at all. Women who could not afford a tutor simply were not taught school subjects. Instead, they learned about how to take care of a home and cook and all of the things that come with being a wife. Of course, the wealthy girls were taught this too in addition to their education. Education Once a woman was married, she became a housewife. It was her job to maintain the house while the husband was at work. This included cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children and, especially during plague season, tending to her ill family. Even the wealthy women had the aforementioned responsibilities. Some of the poorer women would have had to get jobs of their own, usually as maids and servants, if the husband was not making enough money or they were widows. It was very rare that a woman would be without a husband her whole life because single women were looked down on in England at this time. The main reason for this was that it was believed that women were lesser than men. Women were to be obedient to either her father or her husband, and a lone woman did not sit well alongside this rule. In fact, marriage was considered a shift in status. The bride moved from under the rein of her father to the rein of her husband. So if a woman never married and grew old enough to lose her father, she had no authority figure and people did not know how to deal with this. Marriage Clothing General Restrictions England was not just work and chores, despite what it seems like. It had a fair number of fun activities and get togethers and holidays. For example, there were plays being presented often at the theaters, but there were also singers and dancers sometimes. Sporting events like football and, occasionally, jousting were popular. Sometimes towns would hold carnivals, but more often than not, they would hold feasts and banquets in celebration of something. People celebrated the beginning of each new season with these big feasts, for example. Leisure Time Works Cited heheheh words One of the most important jobs a woman had as a wife was to provide children. During the seventeenth century, the mortality rate was quite high, so only about seventy out of one hundred infants made it to his or her first birthday, and only about fifty percent made it to the fifth birthday. It was quite common for a woman to give birth just a bit more than every year, and sometimes she still ended up with a small family. It was also crucial that the woman taught her children proper manners and how to dress from a very young age. A wealthy woman with her many children. The clothes women wore were dictated by something called the Sumptuary Laws, which dictated what people wore. It took into account what colours and fabrics were allowed to be used for each rank of people. For example, wealthy women were allowed to wear mostly gold and silver, and the fabrics used were fur, silk and velvet. But the poorer people had to wear duller colours like brown, beige, yellow, green, grey and some shades of blue, and the fabrics were less luxurious; they commonly used wool, linen and sheepskin. Wealthier women also had more pieces to their wardrobe and took sometimes up to hours to get dressed. Their maids would often be there just to help the woman dress everyday. The end result was a very extravagant look, and the goal to be able to differentiate between rich and poor was achieved. This is a wealthy woman. Notice how the colours are kind of gold and yellow, and the skirt is very wide. They used rings to make their skirts pop out like shown. These women would be from a lower class. They do not have the very wide skirt, and the colours of their dresses are much less bright. In Elizabethan England, women had much less freedom than they do now. Women were not allowed to participate in many social activities, such as voting. In fact, women could not even be involved in politics at all, excluding the monarchy of course. They were not allowed to perform plays onstage, as it was seen dishonourable by the church, and so all female roles had to be acted by boys. These women could, however, write literature if society deemed the subject of her writing was appropriate. Best, Michael. Huswifery. Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria: Victoria, BC, 2001-2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

Clothing Allowed For Women. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-clothing-allowed-women.htm

Elizabethan Clothing. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-clothing.htm

Elizabethan Women. Web. 18 Dec. 2012. http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-women.htm.

Picard, Liza. Elizabeth’s London. Everyday Life in Elizabethan London. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003. Print.

R.E., Pritchard. Shakespeare's England. Life in Elizabethan & Jacobean Times. Great Britain: Sutton Publishing, 1999. Print.

Role of Women in Elizabethan Times. Nothing But Shakespeare. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.
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