What did women do during the day in Shakespeare's England? 

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the Tudor Period of England, when Shakespeare lived, a woman's role in life was to become a wife and mother. As such, most women spent their days caring for their families and household. In an average day, a Tudor woman might breastfeed her infant, bake bread and make stew for the rest of the family to eat, empty any indoor toilet bowls, feed any animals that were kept, lay new thresh in the home to keep the floor clean, and do some spinning or weaving to clothe her family. Some women (especially younger ones) worked in family businesses of making cloth, brewing beer, or butchering and curing meats.

In the upper classes, women did not have such a hands-on lifestyle when it came to running the home. They were in charge of making sure their servants did the necessary tasks to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. An upper-class woman might also take over administrative duties if her husband was away from the home for a long period of time.

Women who did not marry and become mothers really only had two other options in life: become a wise-woman or a sex worker. I wont go into the details of what a sex worker might do in a day, but a wise-woman would be responsible for helping to deliver babies and curing common illnesses like toothache, stomach flu, and the cold.