I've spent a lot of time learning about Shakespeare and establishing a basic understanding of his life as a play write and more specifically a son, husband, father, lover and active participant in a family-based society.
This week I am focusing on the marriage & love aspect of familial Shakespeare.
Men and women mingled with relative freedom and there wasn't usually a wide gap between husbands and wives.I believe this is something that gave root to romance and love-based-marriages during the time.Of course, there is also evidence of what is called "companionate marriage"--a marriage that is more "calculated" than driven by love (44).Marriage was a duty, a religious commitment, a comfort & joy and also held high importance to society.Family was central to the Elizabethan society as their identity rested upon community not individuality (29).One was the procreation of children, to be brought up in the feare and nurtoure of the Lorde, and praise of God. This mistery is great, but I speake of Christe and of the congregacion.Secondly, it was ordeined for a remedy agaynste sinne and to avoide fornication, that suche persones as have not the gifte of continencie might mary, and kepe themselves undefiled membres of Christes body. Neverthelesse, let every one of you so love his owne wyfe, even as hym selfe.I turned to the book Family Life in the Age of Shakespeare by Bruce Young to research historical information about marriage in the Elizabethan era.I was surprised to find that what I previously thought about marriage in Shakespeare's time--female inferiority, arranged & teenage marriages--was, generally, incorrect.Falling in love was a "common precursor to marriage". Wealth was a factor but "virtue, shared belief and a capacity for harmony and love were supposed to be given greater weight" (38) The or "betrothal" was taken almost as seriously as marriage.There were ceremonies of betrothal much like the marriage ceremonies of our days: taking each other by the hand, making promises and even sometimes exchanging rings.