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English Literature   >   Family, Gender and Power in Shakespeare

The Family in Shakespeare's Time

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Family, Gender and Power in Shakespeare

In this course, Dr Emma Whipday (University of Newcastle) analyses the dynamics between family, gender and power in Shakespeare’s plays, focusing on Early Modern understandings of women and the family. We start with a look at beliefs about family dynamics during Shakespeare’s lifetime, focusing on Henry VIII of England and his complicated family. In the second module, we turn to the relationship between fathers and daughters, looking at their depictions in Romeo and Juliet and Othello. In the third, we look at how Measure for Measure understands the role of single women. In the fourth, we explore the relationship between husbands and wives, focusing on The Taming of the Shrew. Finally, in the fifth module, we examine the relationship between mothers and sons through Gertrude and Hamlet’s relationship in Hamlet.

The Family in Shakespeare's Time

In this module, we explore the importance of the family in Shakespeare’s time, focusing especially on: (i) the abandonment of Catholicism in England, and with it the abandonment of being single as the ideal state, (ii) the turn towards marriage and family as a holy state under Protestantism and (iii) The painting King Henry VIII and his Family and its depiction of a nuclear family between Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, and her son Edward and its different reality.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Whipday, E. (2023, January 17). Family, Gender and Power in Shakespeare - The Family in Shakespeare's Time [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Whipday, E. "Family, Gender and Power in Shakespeare – The Family in Shakespeare's Time." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Jan 2023,


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Dr Emma Whipday

Newcastle University