William Shakespeare Questions and Answers

William Shakespeare book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How do Shakespeare's plays reflect the cultural, social, and political conditions of the Elizabethan Age?    

Expert Answers info

Megan Miller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2019

write292 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

We can see social codes at play in all of Shakespeare's plays.

Gender roles are a prevalent theme, and we can look at Shakespeare's plays to think about how women were perceived and treated in Elizabethan society. A Midsummer Night's dream begins with Hermia pleading with Theseus to let her marry Lysander, whom she loves. Her father, however, wants her to marry Demetrius. As a young girl in this society, Hermia is not free to make her own choice. She must follow her father's orders and marry Demetrius, take a vow of chastity at a convent, or die.

Juliet is in a similar situation where her father makes a match for her. He arranges for her to marry Paris, even though she just about to turn fourteen. When Juliet talks with her mother and her Nurse, they comment on how younger girls than she are already married with children. This shows us how it was common in that society for girls to be married off at a young age.

Brabantio assumes his daughter has been stolen by Othello , when in reality...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 738 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

shaketeach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write308 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

shakespeareguru eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write561 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

athaciap10 | Student

What is the political context in Twelfth Night?

mrsvladimirova | Student

the cultural mores of the day were reflected in his writing. He wrote in detail about the way that society functioned, in fact, he revealed the flaws in the way that society functioned by developing characters who acted outside the expectations of society. He is famous for creating strong female characters who stood up to social expectations to express themselves and attain their needs(Kate from the Taming of the Shrew). He laughed at the absurdity of love and relationships(Midsummer Night''s Dream), exposed lust and greed(Hamlet) and highlighted the dominance of the human spirit(Twelfth Night). Most importantly, he showed that often, a character's greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness(Hamlet, or any character, for that matter).