Podcast Episode 7

Welcome to Leadership on Stage and Screen Lecture Podcast, Episode Seven.

Shakespeare’s England, Part III: A Day in the Elizabethan Life

A few episodes ago, we talked about the history leading up to 1599. Today, we’re going to talk about how people thought in 1599, the way they looked at the world, and how they dealt with one another…

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  1. In the podcast you mention how, in 1570, the Pope declared Elizabeth excommunicate and said that he would absolve anyone who assassinated her. Was this a common occurrence? Did the Pope exercise this kind of power against any other rulers who went against the Catholic church?

  2. It seems crazy that procreation was essentially the only important job of a women yet 70% of children died by the age of 10. Similarly, they had such strong-held beliefs about gender and even believed that a girl acting “too masculine” could turn her into a biological boy. To us this seems ridiculous, but to them, of course, it was a very common belief. When did this belief stop and when did people make more accurate discoveries about medicine and the human body?

  3. You mentioned that if you did not attend church every week you would be fined, but there were clearly people who did not share the same values as the Church. Did these people still go to church in order to blend in and avoid suspicion? Also, were babies and young children forced to go as well? What would happen if you were sick and unable to attend? Do the fines still apply?

  4. You said that 70% of children lived past ate 10 and 70% of women did not survive childbirth due to lack of scientific knowledge and healthcare. Was this also true for the upper class? Were they able to access better doctors to survive longer, or was there an overall lack of knowledge in the area?

  5. So, I understand that sex is only about procreation but then again sex is only supposed to be for marriage ( and that doesn’t always happen) … I was wondering if there was any form of contraception that they used?

  6. The podcast discusses many aspects of life in England in 1599, including the very stratified genders and classes who had to follow rules on what to wear to indicate class. Based on how someone was dressed determined how you would treat them. What are examples of the attire that those in the lower or merchant classes wore versus those in the upper class? How did the classes treat each other and did people often try to change their social identities through dressing differently?

  7. This podcast made me wonder how people in the Elizabethan era would explain or react to Intersex individuals. This population is still excluded from the very binary world we live in, despite us having the science to understand how they’re bodies are formed. Even with this understanding there is the ethical dilemma of doctors from surgically altering (mutilating) intersex infants and society assigning a gender to them before they can think for themselves. What would people in the Elizabethan era have done? Are there any documented cases of intersex babies? Were they ever referenced in plays, literature or other forms of media?

  8. This week’s podcast was helpful in terms of understanding the deeply instrumental factors of identity that played a role in Shakespeare’s writing. I am curious about the idea of women of the time being able to outrank men. In the case of Paulina, would she outrank any of the noblemen in Leontes’ cabinet? At times, she speaks to them as if she has more authority. And obviously, she does not outrank the King and yet, she continues arguing with him without a filter of any kind. Were women like her common during these times, or did Shakespeare take artistic liberties with her character and the lack of repercussions she faced for her disrespect of the social norms?

  9. Is interest in Shakespeare’s religious beliefs mere curiosity, or does it have to relate with potential interpretations of his work? Can his work be interpreted differently if he were Catholic as opposed to being Protestant?

  10. With the understanding that “acting like a male could turn you into a male” or vice versa, was there ever any question to people who acted in plays? At the time, females could not participate in plays, so most of the female roles were usually given to young boys who had not yet hit puberty. Was there ever any question as to whether the gender of these boys was being affected?

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