The Evolution of Women in Comedy

In: English and Literature

Submitted By RDM1
Words 1702
Pages 7
The Evolution of Women in Comedy: From the Italian Renaissance to Today
Since the rejuvenation of comedies during the Italian Renaissance, the roles of women in comedy have changed and fluctuated dramatically along with the roles of women in society. Female characters in comedy have ranged from stock characters with no control, to women who take some control via masquerades, to women with freedom but no personality, and finally to the fully empowered, funny women we watch on screen today. Throughout the centuries these changes in comedy have occurred to allow many women to reach their full comedic potential. Changes in comedy to include funny women are ultimately tied to changes in societal views, and this paper aims to explore the journey it took to empower women in comedy, starting from the return of comedy during the Italian Renaissance.
Just as in the Middle Ages, women of the Italian Renaissance were granted neither freedom nor independence. With very little exception, women were controlled by men for their entire lives, first ruled over by their parents during childhood and then sent straight into a marriage arranged by their family to a man they probably did not want to marry (“Women”). This lack of freedom encompassed many areas. Women were expected to be housewives and only housewives. They could not leave the home without a male escort and in fact could not even own a home. Women who did not marry were forced to live with a male relative or live in a convent and become a nun. Additionally, women were discouraged from contributing to the arts or sciences, which likely stunted their education during a time when the arts were flourishing.
After seeing how women were regarded in society during the Renaissance, it is no surprise that they were only a very minor part of Italian comedies. The characters of women were played by men, reflecting women’s exclusion…...

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