The Elizabethan View Of Women

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The Elizabethan View of Women Women in Elizabethan times had few rights or luxuries. Their entire lifestyles depended upon that of their husbands, picked out for them by their fathers. They had almost no say in their lives, and they were expected to be thankful for having someone to rule over them. This is made abundantly clear by Katherina's famous speech in 5.2.137-180 of The Taming of the Shrew. She compares a woman's proper devotion to her husband to that a subject owes a prince, saying that the man provides everything for the woman, and the least she owes him is her complete obedience. While the play is sometimes seen as man's tyranny over woman, it is in fact representing the conventional role women played. In Elizabethan England it was almost universally accepted that this was a God-given right, confirmed in the Bible. A husband was expected to dominate his wife in all things, just as a king could dictate to a citizen or a human being could control an animal.

(Boyce) Much of the humor in The Taming of the Shrew is derived from the interplay of the enduring relationship between men and women and the role that Elizabethan society dictated women should play. It was Katherina's rejection of that role and how Petruchio deals with it that the play centers on. His strategy - which is to treat her as if nothing is good enough for her, to the extent that she is not allowed to eat "inferior"� meals - is to tame her as he would a "wild falcon."� And, as the conventions of the time demanded, she is "tamed"� by the end of the story. Pertruchio's need to tame her reflects upon the prevailing stereotypes of the time. The man was supposed to be in charge.