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Marriage and Courtship in the Elizabethan Era
Transcript of Marriage and Courtship in the Elizabethan Era
Women and Marriage
"A dowry was an amount of money, goods, and property that the bride would bring to the marriage. It was also referred to as her marriage portion. The law gave a husband full rights over his wife. She effectively became his property."
The woman would wear her best dress
Did not have to be white- this was a later custom
Once wed, the wife is property of her husband- very reliant upon male figures in her family
Courtship and Marriage in Shakespeare's Plays
Relating Elizabethan Customs to Today's Marriage
Marrying for benefit (Can you think of a famous person who did this recently?)
Courtship and Marriage During Shakespeare's Time
The woman had very little choice in her partner
Arranged so that both families would benefit (prestige/ wealth/land)
Considered foolish to marry for love
Many couples would meet for the very first time on their wedding day
Presented with a mini-picture pre-wedding
The Ceremony and Reception
No invitations (people would hear via word of mouth)
Very similar gift giving to bride and groom
Bride would have bridesmaids, a bouquet and decorative flowers
Similar extravagantly presented meal with the main course sometimes consisting of peacock
Wine served but ale was more traditional (unclean water)
The Merchant of Venice
Portia and Bassinio (Bound by a clause in her father’s will that forces her to marry whichever suitor chooses correctly among three caskets, Portia is nonetheless able to marry her true love, Bassanio.)
Jessica and Lorenzo (The fate of her soul is often in doubt: the play’s characters wonder if her marriage can overcome the fact that she was born a Jew, and we wonder if her sale of a ring given to her father by her mother is excessively callous.)
The Taming of the Shrew
Katherine and Petruchio: She is prone to violence, particularly against anyone who tries to marry her. Her hostility toward suitors particularly distresses her father. But her anger and rudeness disguise her deep-seated sense of insecurity and her jealousy toward her sister, Bianca. She does not resist her suitor Petruchio forever, though, and she eventually subjugates herself to him, despite her previous repudiation of marriage. He wishes for nothing more than a woman with an enormous dowry, and he finds Kate to be the perfect fit. Disregarding everyone who warns him of her shrewishness, he eventually succeeds not only in wooing Katherine, but in silencing her tongue and temper with his own. Father Baptista (Kate shows her obstinate nature. Thus, at the opening of the play, he is already desperate to find her a suitor, having decided that she must marry before Bianca does in his opinion.)
Richard and Anne: for reasons of politics—and for sadistic pleasure—Richard persuades Anne to marry him.
The ceremony and reception are quite similar
Women are more often head of the household in our times or simply opt out of marriage
Prenups were not created. Instead, the used jointures ("an agreement by the groom 's family to guarantee specific money, property and goods to the bride if her husband dies before she does")