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Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Renaissance is one of the most beautiful periods in the history of humanity. It was a time when mankind was rejoiced and reborn after a long domination of the church to a new life full of pleasure and bright fulfillments.

The early fifteenth century state produced official definitions of the roles of men and women based on their gender and elite status. The government and political institutes “gave official standing to the variations and nuances of womanhood by vocation, age, marital status and social class” (Stanley Chojnacki 84). The image of a woman was very ambiguous, and this ambiguity of a woman’s nature reflected her status in early modern Europe. The understanding of the role of women was ambivalent: on the one hand, in a context of common cultural values, a woman was a carrier of negative qualities, representing a negative pole of valuable hierarchy of the Christian world, combining a source of disasters for the man and a shelter of devil forces. On the other hand, a woman was dependent on man and was immured in the household serving him as a “looking-glass” for centuries. More positively, a woman was seen as an assistant to a man who would carry the functions of a mother, good housekeeper, and a wife; or as Jones stated in The Mirror, the Distaff, the Pen “the ideal woman was represented as a complement to the kind of man she affirmed” (12). Furthermore, some women preferred to keep themselves for service to God, remaining a virgin.

Women were withdrawn from the world and their primary focus was on serving their husbands and family. They all shared the common problem of living in a society dominated and controlled by men. Therefore, official ideology tried to resolve the misbalance that existed between a man and a woman by developing special roles and also by creating special stereotypes of values. The specifically feminine qualities were seen in virtues such as chastity, piety, obedience, and silence. Hence, this society was especially hostile to women writers “for a woman’s silence was interpreted as a manifestation of her chastity, whereas eloquence was equated with promiscuity” (Judith C. Brown and Robert C. Davis 486).

Another point that could be made is the focus on advocating for freedom of mind that allowed women to develop their talents and creativity. Freedom was considered one of the necessary and natural human rights. However, this society put limits on education for women. The main purpose of any education is to achieve its goal of freeing the mind through many disciplines. Additionally, education transcends skills and knowledge training and liberates women to be free, while at the same time, freeing them from evil and non-values.

The humanism derived from the humanities became the essence and maintenance of the Renaissance. The development of ideas of humanism and education rendered influence on a change of representations regarding social roles of the man and the woman in society. Despite such a misbalance between genders some women did become famous in history. They became known for their wisdom and original thoughts, the works of Elizabeth I, queen of England, is an example. In essence, women of the Renaissance were not only housekeepers and loyal wives but also creators of cultural values.

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