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How does this quote relate the women during Elizabethan era?A little month; or ere...

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xomishy | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM via web

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How does this quote relate the women during Elizabethan era?

A little month; or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father’s body
Like Niobe, all tears;—why she, even she,—
O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn’d longer,—married with mine uncle,
My father’s brother; but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month;
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married:

I know that women were very dependant on men. Women did not have a lot of freedom back in the day. Were women expected to get marry? Or because she was the queen and a queen always needs a king? but queen Elizabeth was reluctant to marriage...

What kind of audience was Shakespeare trying to target?


Thanks :)

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sensei918 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted July 23, 2010 at 1:20 PM (Answer #1)

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In Elizabethan England, women had no rights. Legally, they were completely dependent om men. They had to have the protection of a father or a brother or they would have been fair game. Gertrude may have felt that, as a Queen, she would have been prey to any number of men who would try to usurp her authority, so she was eager to get married again. Of course, Claudius knew this too, so he was ready to step in and take his brother's throne and wife. He just didn't count on his nephew figuring out his plan.  She would not have been accepted without a man by her side, but, by marrying, she gave up power for protection, though Hamlet scorned her for doing so.  He also felt that she must have known what happened to his father, but it is never directly stated that this was the case.

Elizabeth got around this problem by marrying herself to England. She was called the Virgin Queen, not necessarily because she never had a relationship, but because her persona as the ruler had to be above reproach. Plus, she knew that many men wanted to marry her simply to be in control of the throne. She was a very smart woman and managed to break the rules without seeming to break them. Other women did not have much of a choice, unless they were lower class.

Shakespeare wrote across class lines; his plays appealed to everyone from the commoner to the Queen herself.

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