Sixteenth-century views of female sexuality and their impacts on Shakespeare’s tragedies Shakespeare, in most of his, plays give women or female protagonists’ power. This can to some extent be attributed to his interaction in the courts between the monarch Elizabeth Tudor’s reigns, in 1558-1603 (Waddington 18). This thus shows the most significant personalities of the sixteenth century living as contemporaries. In Shakespeare’s comedies, the female leading role act in authoritatively distinct ways with par success. However, these plays do not discourse exactly the role of women’s royalty. Definitely, one would assume to see gender contemplations exposed in Shakespeare’s works as distresses about the female gender formed one of the crucial social consideration of Shakespeare’s normal life. Shakespeare, a popular and political writer, can hardly refrain himself from the common societal worries.
In two of Shakespeare’s tragedies, he openly suggests the danger of female participation in sovereign level politics, Hamlet and Macbeth. He dramatizes real political concerns that came out during queen Elizabeth Tudors’ reign through the marriage of Gertrude to hamlet’s uncle because of Lady Macbeth’s ambitious political career (Waddington 42). The sixteenth-century leadership was invoked mostly by tensions as aptly captured by Shakespeare, where Hamlet and Macbeth do not make open political remarks about Elizabeth Tudor’s monarchy.
Allan Bloom and Harry V. Jaffa, in their book Shakespeare’s politics, disparage and emphasize the drawbacks of construing Shakespeare within historical terms (Archer et al. 7). However, they agree that Shakespeare’s works produced a precise thematic image of current social concerns. This is highly agreeable to many other different authors who also contend that historical portrayal cannot be disregarded as it is quite weighty. Leonard’s book, Tenney house; power on display; the politics of Shakespeare’s genres, projects that Shakespeare’s literary works cannot be separated from the aspect of him being a renaissance individual and dramatist where female discrimination was on the zenith (Archer et al. 11). Shakespeare also portrays that the female role did not have steadiness and thus confined an intrinsic danger as the Tudor monarchy is regularly clouded by shakiness and problems, for example, the failed marriage of Mary and Tudor’s uncertainty sentiment to matrimony (Waddington 67). This instability caused hyped anxiety among the Englishmen who relatable negatively the fitness of the Elizabethan rule. To some extent, her gender or the queen herself, as a female leader, was illustrated as insolvent to the stable rule of the state. The literary works of Shakespeare also to some extent questions the queen’s ability to lead the state through war and even her authority over her male subjects. This aspect also paints how male chauvinism had clouded the sixteenth-century societies (Waddington 68). Even the queen to pass over the mantle to the next heir or her husband was questioned widely.
Through the plays, Hamlet and Macbeth’s political ambitions lead to the political instability of the state and the disruption of natural harmony. Lady Macbeth’s lethal political ambitions that eventually constrain the state’s political cultures and further diffuses the role of females, in the sixteenth-century societies, as she is rendered as someone who can go to extreme limits just for self-want and enrichment (Waddington 104). Her subversive attempts finally convince her husband to assassinate the current monarch, and through this plot, she assumes power as queen and her husband the king and acts, as she did not know of what transpired. Therefore, Lady Macbeth’s female ambitions depict a negative connection of the females within the sixteenth century. All these female characteristics can also allude to the biblical writing where females like Delilah were shown as symbols of treachery and slyness. Some like Herod’s wife also who did everything for their own self-worth by conspiring, with the daughter, to kill John the Baptist. Lady Macbeth repudiates her femininity for power imploring the feminine desire for power as peculiar (Ben-Ezra 239). The female protagonists in Shakespeare’s plays show the extents the women would go to nurse their hunger for power.
In Shakespeare’s plays, the literal scripts given to female was less proving their little consideration given to the women’s libber. Most parts or female scripts were acted by young men showing that there were remarkably few or none parts of the script written for female roles. The depiction of a society full of single fathers, in most of Shakespeare’s literary works, also shows the dismal representation of the female gender even, in writing. In the play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo gets most parts of the script and talks all the way more than Juliet. Referring to Shakespeare’s personal life where he got married to Hathaway, a twenty-six-year-old girl, at the age of eighteen, showed how the female gender had been sidelined and had no voice to rescind a marriage even to a person whose age difference is wide (Ben-Ezra 234). Infidelity also roots, in this society, where the females are expected to respect their men even in case openly known. Therefore, Shakespeare, in conclusion, depicts the sixteenth-century society like that, which female perception is poor especially, in politics and power.
Archer, D, Culpeper, J. & Rayson, P. “Love – ‘a familiar or a devil’? An Exploration of Key Domains in Shakespeare’s Comedies and Tragedies.” AHRC ICT Methods Network Expert Seminar on Linguistics (8 September 2006): 6-13. Print
Ben-Ezra, M. “Traumatic reactions from antiquity to the 16th century: was there a common denominator?” Stress and Health Volume 27, Issue 3 (August 2011): 223–240. Print
Waddington, Raymond. Aretino’s Satyr: Sexuality, Satire, and Self-projection in Sixteenth-century Literature and Art. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. Print