The Elizabethan Worldview and Much Ado About Nothing
The Elizabethan Era is one of the most fascinating periods in the History of the World. It is named after one of the greatest of the Queens of England - Queen Elizabeth I. It was the era of the very first Theatres in England - William Shakespeare and the globe Theatre and Christopher Marlowe! It also had a very different feel and look to it than we experience nowadays and this is shown in the marriage and wedding customs, recreation, social hierarchy, and how it is a patriarchal society. The Elizabethan worldview is strongly reflected in Shakespeare’s play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ set in the 17th century in Messina, a port on the island of Sicily, Italy.
In ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ the marriage and wedding customs of the Era was strongly reflected as the play was based around love, betrayal and marriage. Marriages were often arranged so that both families involved would profit. Marriages would be arranged to bring prestige or wealth to the family. Many couples would meet for the very first time on their wedding day, this particular Elizabethan custom usually applied to the nobility but the married or religious life were the only real options for the Elizabethan women. A man was considered to be the head of a marriage, and he had the legal right to chastise his wife. However, it is important to understand what this "headship" meant. It did not mean, as if often supposed, that the husband was able to command his wife to do anything he pleased, in other words, be a petty tyrant. He was expected to take care of her, make sure she had everything she needed, and most importantly to love her and be a good father to any children they had. After marriage Elizabethan women were expected to run the households and provide children. The law gave a husband full rights over his wife so that she effectively became his property. This is shown in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ where Don Pedro, a...
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