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Social Classes


David Shim

on 11 January 2010

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Transcript of Social Classes

Social Classes The people in the Elizabethan Era was divided among three classes. The upper classes, the middle classes, and the lower classes. Your class depended on your wealth and status Upper Classes contained all the rich people that had their own land and dreesed elegantly. Some had titles such as the Baron, and the Marquises. They were considered as nobles. Some of them even had seats in the upper house of parliament which meant that they had some political power. The titles were passed down for a long time and could sometimes be earned by doing the King or Queen a favor or a noble deed. The middle classes were made up of people that were somewhat wealthy and had some property. They were called either Yeomen or Citizens. Yeomen worked in the country and get some of their land from the Gentries, a lower class in the upper class. Most of them educated their own children to become Gentlemens. Citizens on the other hand worked in the cities. Citizens worked as mercahnts, traders, clothiers, and printers. The ones that were most successfull sometimes had seats in the house of commons, the lower house of parliament. Most citizens urged their Daughters to try and marry men with titles to increase their status and wealth. The lower classes were made up of people that were poor and low in status. They were called either servants or laborers. Servants worked for people that owned property. They considered themselves higher ranked if they worked for a noble. Laborers were the vast majority of the popularity. Their career depended on the amount of work available. They were considered as slaves almost and were considered as people to be ruled and not to rule others.
The connection Shakespeare has with all of these classes is that he was able to gain each and everyone's attention no matter what class with his literacy talents. His theater even attracted the eyes of the Queen who was the highest of the Nobles. All classes are different in many different ways but Shakespeare's writing and acts were able to find a common relationship between them. He inspired many lower classes and entertained many upper classes including Queen Elizabeth herself. Upper Class Middle Classes Lower Classes The Elizabethan era was a society divided by class. The divisions were manifested in the clothes that people wore which were decreed by the Law. These were called the Sumptuary Laws which provided strict clothing guidelines in order to limit the expenditure by people on clothes - and of course to maintain the social structure of the Elizabethan Class system. The penalties for violating Sumptuary Laws could be harsh - fines, the loss of property, title and even life Clothes provided information about the status of the person wearing them. This was not just dictated by the wealth of the person, it also reflected their social standing. Only Royalty were permitted to wear clothes trimmed with ermine. Lesser Nobles were allowed to wear clothing trimmed with fox and otter.
The new and exciting ideas of the Renaissance including an increased interest in science and mathematics influenced upper class fashion. The clothes worn during this era were influenced by geometric shapes rather than the natural shape of the body. Padding and quilting together with the use of whalebone or buckram for stiffening purposes were used to gain this geometric effect with emphasis on the shoulders and hips. The fashions were designed to give the impression of a small waist - especially desired by the women but also emulated by men who wore tight waisted, stiffened doublets. Men would sometimes wear girdles, the equivalent of the female corset, to obtain the wasp waisted look. The wedding garments belonging to the majority of brides were generally made from Flax, Cotton and wool. Colours came in a variety of different shades: red, blue, greens, white, grey, black, orange and tan. Corsets were occasionally worn but any additional undergarments were rarely heard of. A shift, or chemise, would also be worn beneath the gown. Fresh flowers were central to the clothing. The bride would wear flowers in her hair and they would also adorn her gown. Unmarried girls were allowed to wear there hair loose but once married it had to be hid beneath a bonnet. Wealthy brides had garments which were adorned with jewels and gold and silver thread. It was also traditional to carry a bouquet. A bride would have bridesmaids and these would be similarly attired.
The bride did not wear a white wedding dress, this was a later tradition. Instead she would wear her best gown and kirtle , or even a new gown if the money was available. The gown would cover most of the body and would be full length. A cloak was used as an outer garment. Velvet, Satins and Corduroy were costly and therefore worn by the nobility. Although the vast majority of the body was covered it was permissible for dresses to have plunging necklines. A necklace was often worn which drew even more attention to a woman's breasts. The necks and cuffs of gowns were decorated with silk or linen ruffs. The hair was often worn loose as a symbol of purity.
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