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Flashcards in Context Deck (36)
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What typical categories existed for women to fit into?

Maidens, wives, widows, or whores.


What is a modern interpretation of Desdemona's fidelity to her husband?

Desdemona acts like a victim of abuse and stockholm syndrome, making excuses for her abuser and praising him and staying faithful.


What stock character does Brabantio represent? Where else can this be found in Shakespeare?

Brabantio is the 'Senex Iratus', or the old patriarchal figure, who holds control over his children - such as Lord Capulet in 'Romeo and Juliet', and Polixenes in 'The Winter's Tale' (who is a king outraged over his son marrying a shepherd girl Perdita)


Who pioneered the revenge tragedy genre?

Thomas Kyd


Which other women in Shakespeare are rebellious against their fathers for the sake of love?

Juliet in 'Romeo and Juliet', who falls in love with Romeo of the opposing noble house, and Jessica in 'The Merchant of Venice', as she marries a Christian man and abandons her Jewish father.


What do Shakespeare's rebellious women have in common in their love?

They seek to marry their cultural 'other' and defy social norms - Juliet wanting the opposing house, Jessica desiring a man of the opposite religion, and Desdemona wedded to a man of the opposite race.


Which of Shakespeare's cunning women defy other cultural norms and how?

Portia in 'The Merchant of Venice' and Viola in 'Twelfth Night' both crossdress in order to survive and achieve their aims in society which they could not achieve as a woman.


Who were the first actors to play Shakespeare's females and how did this impact the characters' portrayal and conception?

The first actors were groups of adolescent boys who would crossdress as women - thus Shakespeare's women would either crossdress themselves to appear more realistic or feature less strongly within the play (such as Desdemona)


How were marriages often decided for upper class women? What does this mean about Desdemona and Brabantio?

Women's marriages were often arranged in order to further a family's success and wealth - thus in choosing her own husband, Desdemona is defiant of typical expectations of women of her status, thus explaining her father's outrage.


What is a soliloquy?

A soliloquy is a character thought-track and speech delivered from the character to themselves, typically when alone on stage, not addressed to the audience but for the audience to listen to.


What is 'manning' a hawk?

Taming a female hawk by spending twenty days with it constantly, until the hawk looks upon the male falconer as a mate.


How were hawks treated in upper class gentry?

Hawks were prized possessions, and particularly beloved hawks could sleep in the master's bedroom. Falconry itself was a noble sport.


How does John Leo Africanus, a Moor, write about Africans in his 1600 'Geographical Historie of Africa'

They are 'most honest' and 'high minded', but 'subject to jealousie' and deceived easily.


What significance did handkerchiefs serve in Renaissance upper class circles?

They were often uniquely embroidered and exchanged as gifts.


How do 16th century costume guides depict Venetian noblewomen?

Young women had to wear black silk veils over their faces in order to preserve their modesty.


Othello: 'Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings'
What are jesses?

The straps placed on a trained hawk's legs.


Othello: 'Her name, that was a fresh as Dian's visage'
Who is Dian?

Dian is short for Diana, the Roman goddess of virginity, hunt, and nature.


During the 16th century, which non-European nations did England trade with?

The Ottoman Empire and the Barbary coast (North African nations)


What were British slavery laws like in Shakespeare's time?

English law explicitly stated that all men on British soil were free - thus there was a complete lack of legal slavery, any slaves or Africans stepping onto English soil being considered free.


What evidence is there for a significant presence of Moors and Africans in England?

Queen Elizabeth I's 1601 draft proclamation, where she calls for the deportation of 'Negars and Blackamoors'


What evidence is their of African integration into England?

In 1578, Captain George Best writes of his witness of an Ethiopian man taking an English wife and having children.


How were offspring of black-white children perceived?

In Captain George Best's 1578 account of an Ethiopian man and English wife, he writes that the child's 'blackness proceedeth rather of some natural infection'.


What perceptions of Africans existed in the British consciousness in Shakespeare's time?

They were considered infidels, lusty and barbaric, lacking civilization or religion. As well as this, due to typically arriving from Spanish slave trade, they were seen as a by-product of the conflict with Spain, and competing with British natives for food and resources.


How many plays in the turn of the century featured Moors?

Between 1579 and 1624 there are 62 recorded plays


What other contemporary plays feature Moor characters?

'The Battle of Alcazar' by George Peele and 'Tamburlaine' by Christopher Marlowe


How were Barbary Africans, Moors, and Sub-Saharan Africans distinguished by Europeans?

They weren't - Europeans would often 'other' them and homogenize these groups into one.


What is Machiavellian theory?

Honesty and other virtues are expendable if deceit and immorality will better achieve an aim of self-interest.


What is Leo Africanus' History and Description of Africa's significance?

It is believed by scholars to have influenced Shakespeare's work


How were Muslims treated in Venetian society?

They would live in buildings distant from local populaces and could not have a centralised prayer location.


What does Niccolo Machiavelli say in his essay 'The Prince'?

'Everyone sees what you appear to be; few really know what you are.'