Ramona-Alexandrina CHIRIBUŢĂ (MITROI)
PhD. student, The Department of British, American and German Studies of the University of Craiova, Romania; E-mail: email@example.com
The history of women’s struggle for equality during the last two centuries is relatively well documented; studies of women’s history often construct a meliorist narrative in which the progress women have made in recent times represents the final stage in a long upward trajectory. Women’s power and authority extended beyond the limits of their families. The example of the Tudor queens Mary and Elizabeth is well known, and the ‘anomaly’ of Elizabeth’s position has been endlessly noted; but they were not the only women who exercised political authority. As owners of boroughs, two of the Queen’s female subjects were able to choose Members of Parliament. Women also possessed considerable economic power, not only through inheritance from fathers and husbands, but also by virtue of their own gainful employment. Women lower on the social scale earned their livings, not only as servants, but also in a variety of trades that took them outside the household. In Shakespeare’s world, inequalities between men and women were taken for granted. Sanctioned by law and religion and reinforced by the duties and customs of daily life, they were deeply embedded in the fabric of culture. However, the gender hierarchy in Shakespeare’s time coexisted with a hierarchy of status and rank, which was also rationalized by theology, and by history as well.
Shakespeare, female power, misogyny,feminist, historicist literary scholarship.