Shakespeare and Cultural Hegemony Essay

Words: 1810
Pages: 8

Shakespeare and Masculine Hegemony

The sociological notion that the hierarchy of society is habitually patriarchal, an idea formally named “masculine hegemony”1, is influenced by literature beginning as early as the Medieval times and remains unchallenged until the appearance of the works of William Shakespeare in the heat of the English Renaissance. Masculine hegemony as a concept arises from the prison writings of Marxist scholar Antonio Gramsci meanwhile he was imprisoned within a fascist jail in the 1920s.2 Creating a sexist doctrine that rules over early societies it filters itself into the pages of some of the most renowned historical pieces of literature. The Iliad by Homer, the Oresteia Trilogy by Aeschylus, the
…show more content…
A woman who is unable to produce children will commonly have her husband betray her, utilize another woman, and have children through that other woman. This is seen in the stories of Sarai and Abram and Rachel and Jacob. In the Bible it's always the women that are "barren", never the men. And, when God "opens their womb," the resulting babies are always little boys. This is an obvious show of masculine hegemony, and male dominated society.The first five books of the Old Testament, which compose the basis of the Torah, are thought to have been written anywhere within the 1400s BC. Traveling anywhere into the after- Christ era you see significant progression in the status of women, but they do not come full circle until the true age of modernity. Looking specifically into medieval times women have been elevated slightly above their traditional biblical roles, but it is still a male dominated society and women had to know their place. There was a multitude of familial obligations and laws that dictated how women could marry, and they were married young. Producing a male heir within a rich family was considered vital; so many women spent a great deal of their married life pregnant. However, childbirth was dangerous as medical care was so poor. Themes of masculine hegemony in society echo throughout Boccaccio’s Decameron. Some argue that women are respected by this