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Women and Children in the Elizabethan Era

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Brill Ebenhaezer

on 12 May 2016

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Transcript of Women and Children in the Elizabethan Era

Women's role in society
Shakespearean Times
Women and Children in Elizabethan England
I. Boys and girls were taught very differently. They were mostly separate and away from each other.
Elizabethan Childhood Days
Reigning Queen during the Elizabethan Era
Refused to marry, refused to hand over her power to a male = total dominance
Established Protestant Church and is Head of the Church
Defeated Spanish Armada and fixed Mary's mistakes
Idea of a female monarch is solidified
Britain is united and came to world power
Lived in the "Golden Age of England"
Brought Britain to power, dominance, and recognition all by her own
Marriage was more commonly out of parental influence than love.
Women usually married in their mid-twenties
It was legal for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12.
Elizabethan women were expected to bring a dowry to the marriage
The law gave the husband full rights over his wife.
She became his property
It was expected for women to have children and give birth every two years.
Daily Life of Women
Why are these important?
All Hail the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth I of England
Did you know that the Elizabethan Era is a time of great conversion for women?
There was a female monarch, new rights, and new laws passed. Today it is considered barbaric and uncouth, but the changes were important back then. Children also played a strong role back then. They were loved, cherished, and raised. These factors later influenced Shakespeare's own writings. These are the roles of women and children in the Elizabethan Era.
Queen Mary I,
Bloody Mary





Leah, Augustine, Christian,
and Brill
Women and children during the
Elizabethan Era
Elizabethan England
Built England's economy and history and to help us understand Shakespeare's time
Major People, Events, and Terms
Nay, come, I
pray thee speak
with haste.
Jesu, what haste! Can
you not stay a while?
Can you not see I am
out of breath?
II. Upper class children were expected to have manners and be courteous.
Boys are able to go to university and participate in what women can't.
Girls were able to attend petty schools to learn the basics.
The rich had children tutored privately at home.
The poor had parishes or housewives teach them.
small boys learning the alphabet
polite and courteous!
Elizabethan boy in skirts
Women and children who wore satin, silk or velvet were considered as Elizabethan nobility.
Women and children of lower classes usually wore wool, lines and sheepskin
Young boys were dressed in skirts until 7 and then wore breeches
Babies aged 6-12 month would be swaddled completely so they could not move. It was believed that if the baby could move there would be a danger of them growing improperly, making them crooked and deformed.
Women are People too!
In the Elizabethan Era, women were mistreated and not given the rights that they deserved, just because men thought that they were a “weaker sex”. Because of this, they did not get proper educations and did not have the opportunity to express their opinions. This basically cut out 50% of people who could make a difference. To go against these rules against women was considered a crime against your religion, and the church supported this belief and and quoted the Bible in order to ensure the continued obedience of women.

They were to bow and curtsey.
They were to address people.
They were to have table and social etiquette.
Disobedience or impolite actions resulted in physical discipline.
Married women of all classes were responsible for the managing the household, a very demanding job.

Cooking and preparing food
Make preserves and medicines
Brewing ale
Spin wool and flax for clothing
Know about first aid and medicine
Make candles
Take care of the animals

Wives of noblemen would manage their husbands estates while they were away.

Young women often worked as domestic servants, the textile trade and as shopkeepers.
1558 - 1603
1516 - 1558
Women and children of all class would have spent time doing their hobbies.

Some include:
Music, singing, dancing
Chess, cards and board games
Knitting ,crochet and fine needlework
Children would play with toy soldiers, dolls, ships and drums.
Queen Elizabeth I was arguably the most influential woman in the Elizabethan era. She was the third female monarch in English history, and she was the first to rebel against the female stereotypes. She refused to marry, so she could not be bossed around, she fixed many national problems, she established a church, and she was a very strong leader. Because of her, women started to become their own people, and Elizabeth also proved that women could be independent.

Elizabeth Changed the World!
Daily Life of Elizabethan Women and Children
Last queen in the Tudor Period
Throne passed from her brother Edward VI, then Lady Jane Grey, then to her
Married Phillip of Spain
Brought back Catholicism into England
Persecuted numerous Protestants
Due to her marriage to Phillip, trade routes were limited and small
Numerous famines and droughts
Unable to bear a child, many false pregnancies
Important because she was one of the first female monarchs
Just not one of the best female monarchs
Petty School
Taught in teacher's house
Basic education for a small fee
Simple arithmetic, reading, religious and behavior lessons
Run by well-educated housewife
Usually ages 5-7
Girls were sometimes permitted
Came after grammar school
Ages 14+
Girls are NOT ALLOWED to attend university
Many rich or noble children went
Different faculties like Theology, Liberal Arts, Medicine, and Law
Grammar School
Came after petty school
Ages 7-14
Many children came here
Taught more arithmetic & literature
Music and dancing lessons
Many rich families' tutors teach this level
financed by Guild of Education
School System
in Elizabethan England

"Women in her greatest perfection
was made to serve and obey men"
- John Knox
What comes after four?
Children’s education was very unequal in the Elizabethan Era. The girls were taught from home by their mothers to become housewives, whilst the boys went to school and then university. This would have deprived many smart females of a chance for a good job. There are exceptions though, as sometimes daughters of noblemen were given the privilege to private tutors, although this was rare.

Don't you know your manners yet?
Children who lived during the Elizabethan Era were expected to be very obedient. They had table manners ingrained into them at a young age, were expected to bow and curtsy, and speak politely. If they broke any rules, they were punished in a physical manner. The parents’ motives were pure, though, as they knew this would help their children in the future.

Women and Children in the Plays
The Ladies Who Called the Shots
- Women in Shakespeare’s plays were very different from the women of Elizabethan England, these women were very influential, had power and made many of the decisions that their male counter parts would have made.
- Some women are powerful and cunning
- Some women capture the ideal feminine virtues of the time in the time
- Other women are forced to pretend to be men to be accepted by society

The Ladies
The Powerful Ladies
- Lady Macbeth- one of Shakespeare's most horrid villains. She has far greater strength of will than her husband. While he hesitates and is distrustful of his powers, she never wavers. She shows the power of her will over her husband, especially when they meet the second time after his return. She is the one who tells him to kill the King.

- Juliet Capulet-strong minded and very influential. She is the one who says she loves Romeo, she is the one who proposes the two should marry in the first place.

- Goneril- she is obsessed with power and overthrowing her elderly father as ruler of the kingdom of Britain. Her aggressiveness is a rare trait for a female character in Elizabethan literature.

Ladies of the Time
- Helena- Is hopelessly in love, she is obsessed with her beauty and is very insecure. She is a mirror for most young ladies in her society. She wants to be married and loved so she thinks of only that.
- Katharina- Katharina starts of being very headstrong and very ambitious, cunning and sly. But once she marries Petruchio she’s tamed to become a submissive and a puppet to her husband. She claims that the sun is the moon because her husband says so.
- Desdemona- Desdemona was what it meant to be a faithful wife. She stays with her husband and shows him love even after he strikes her in public and calls her a whore. This is how wives were supposed to be in Elizabethan England.

Ladies who take the Guise of Men
- Viola- Viola disguises herself as a man to hide her identity as a woman and to give her the chance to work for count Orsino. As a woman she would never get the job
- Julia- she disguises herself as a man so that she can make a safe journey to meet her beloved . As a woman she is taken advantage of but as a man she I trusted with scandalous secrets. Her beloved makes her deliver a ring to his secret lover. (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
- Rosalind- With boldness and imagination, she disguises herself as a young man for the majority of the play in order to woo the man she loves and instruct him in how to be a more accomplished, attentive lover—a tutorship that would not be welcome from a woman.(As You Like It)

Children in Shakespeare
Shakespeare did not have many children in his plays. Children were not as protected and emotionally attached to their parents as we are today. Many children died during this time so it made sense for adults not to be able to make a connection with them.
The few children in the plays are not given speaking roles an only appear once or twice in many of the plays.
Though it is argued that Romeo and Juliet are children in reality they rent, they are forced to become adults and forget their youth.

Daily life of children
Children were subservient to adults in the family.
Children were taught good manners and would be punished, boys and girls for any bad behaviour.
Children were expected to make themselves useful from the age of seven. Usually they would work in their household or their family business.
Much of their childhood consisted of working to help their family.
Most parents did not have a good relationship with their parents.
Poor children didn't have time for play as they were usually working.
"Deny thy father and refuse thy name.

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet."
Act II Scene 2 35-39
an elizabethan family
Women's Civil Rights
Women weren't allowed to vote
Women weren't allowed to participate in politics
Women weren't able to go to university
Women weren't able to be actresses*
Women weren't allowed to be a doctor or lawyer
Women weren't able to inherit their father's titles or belongings*
Women weren't able to join the army or navy
Women were to follow the sumptuary laws
Women were men's property!
Women were seen as inferior and subservient to men
Seen as the "weaker sex"
Disobedience against a male member resulted in harsh discipline and a beating
Women were often abused and taken advantage of by men
Women were dependent on men
Raised to the belief that they are inferior
Main goal is to raise children and a big family
In short, they had VERY LIMITED rights!
* May happen under certain circumstances
"a happy couple....?"
MacBeth: "The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,"
Scene II Act 5: 49-50

Elizabethan Children
Wasn't much of a childhood, yet a "pre-adult hood"
Treated like an adult once able to walk and talk
High expectations
Dangerous surroundings
Very prone to kidnappings and sexual harassment
Expected to work
"an adult trapped in a child's body"
King Lear: "Pray you let's hit together. If our father carry authority
with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his
will but offend us."
Scene I Act 1
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells

and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row."

Mary Mary Quite Contrary = Talking about how Mary's changes were a failure
How does your garden grow? = Inability to bear childen OR the increasing Protestant graveyards
Silver bells = Catholic cathedral bells OR a torture device that crushes the thumbs
Cockleshells = Phillip's unfaithfulness to her (a.k.a. cuckolding which is having affairs with other women) OR another torture device that is truly gruesome
And pretty maids all in a row = The Four Mary's OR numerous victims on a stake OR her miscarriages OR another torture device
"I am as ugly as a bear" Act II Scene 2
A Midsummer Nights dream
"Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
And be it moon, or sun, or what you please:
An if you please to call it a rush-candle,
Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me"
Act IV Scene 5
If the duke continue these favors towards you, Cesario, you are likly to be much advanced. He hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger.
Twelfth Night
Scene I Act 4
Taming Of the Shrew
reference to failing reign or religious conflict
Three Blind Mice
"Three Blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut their tails off with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice."

The burning of Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, and Nicholas Ridley
Reference to the Execution of 3 Bishops
Three Blind Mice are 3 Protestant Bishops Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, and Nicholas Ridley
Blindness refers to Protestant faith from Catholic view
Queen Mary I was the farmer's wife
One of her important executions
The name Nicholas Ridley must ring a bell
from "Fahrenheit 451."
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