Women In Jacobean Drama

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THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN JACOBEAN ERA - IN CONTEXT WITH THE REVENGERS TRAGEDY and A CHASTE MAID In Cheapside

The prominence of women in Jacobean drama is immediately evident. Jacobean dramatists excel in their depiction of Middleton, Thomas, A Chaste Maid In Cheapside, London, 1630courtship and marriage, in their evocation of London life and city women, and in their analysis of female character. The role of the woman in Jacobean drama serves a multi-faceted purpose; she is whore, mother, prostitute, gold-digger, innocent, corruptible prey, and predator. Occasionally, a single female character adopts all of the above and becomes a beacon for all aspects of womanhood, whether pleasing or not. Yet regardless of female vice or virtue, a woman in Jacobean drama stands as collateral to be divided up by and between male characters in the drama, to settle scores, or provide a tempting incentive for reconciliation.

This concern with women is new to the drama, and is most marked, and most fruitful in the plays written between 1590 and 1625. The major dramatists of the Jacobean period - Shakespeare, Webster,
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Shakespeare shares his contemporaries ' attitudes to women, but integrates them into his realization of individual character. He shows how preconceptions about women in general damage individuals, and limit the experience of love. The dramatists’ close contact with conflicting ideals and prejudices relating to women outside the theatre contributes to the richness and vitality of Jacobean drama.

Elements of sexism and misogyny are prevalent in most Jacobean drama, where the female characters are portrayed as embodying the above traits, and whose sole purposes are to be divided off in to pieces that please their male counterparts. Yet also some women of the Jacobean period end up subverting gender roles, and using the conventions of masculinity to play against their male opposites. In Jacobean texts women are used as commodities in an overtly misogynist
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