Elizabethan age can be rightly said as the ‘period of patriarchy ‘which can be approximately marked between 1558 and 1603 where women were not allowed to choose their life partner nor they could deny the parents choice if they try to do so then they were tortured and beaten up badly it was clearly stated by professor(historian) trevelyan’s – ‘History of England’ which Virginia woolf was going through ,such denial of choice shows that women in that time were having no agency. Women were not allowed to learn grammar, logic ,English grammar and poetry; they were recommended or were made only for men. They were always reminded to focus their attention on household chores and on family.In the Elizabethan age, the role of women was very limited in society. Men were expected to be breadwinners and women to be housewives and do household chores. Women were considered as inferiors and were not given the right to education. They were also denied the right of expressing themselves through writing. Taking the example of Judith Shakespeare, she was as talented and imaginative as her brother but she was not allowed to learn and study more and she was married forcefully. When she wanted to become an actor, everybody made fun of her and discouraged her. Women could not own property of their own. This is one of the reasons Queen Elizabeth never married- she did not want to give up her power to a man.Gender was considered more important than skill.The sister of Shakespeare who was imagined by Virginia woolf was an example of such case , In the story she (Judith)desired to become an actor but everyone in the society made fun of her and discourage her but the theatre manager took advantage of this weakness he cheated her by trapping her in his false love and the innocent girl couldn’t found that,now it was too late to identify the trap and which resulted in her pregnancy, all she was going through now was mental, emotional and social trauma which made her to take a wrong step that is to end her life by committing suicide .This incident help us to understand how man of that time only took woman for granted more or less as a ‘toy’ , whatever could be said to them ,and done to them no one took care and society In such acts they just keep silence,Woman were deprived to pursue their interest there was many instances even in the 19th century that woman writers were forced to use male pen names to hide their identity because women were not supposed to popular and were supposed to be working by using mail pen names their work gets someone else identity.As in the initial part of the answer we talked about a play i.e.” MERCHANT OF VENICE “where• Portia was the women protagonist and a clear representation of Shakespeare’s heroine where she had her agency to choose her husband and she had devised a kind of lottery for the purpose to choose her husband. Which gave potential suitors from all over the world the chance to choose among the three caskets and whoever chooses the right one is set to marry PortiaWhereas Elizabethan women for decades were not allowed to choose their life partner nor they could deny the choice of partner if they tried to do so they were badly beaten.•Her(Portia) famous “Quality of Mercy” speech is proof of her compassionate nature. She is well known for her quality of mercy speech given in the trial room. This speech depicts mercy as a sublime quality which is twice blest: it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes. Mercy, she says, is an attribute to God Himself.Although Portia is a woman with a powerful intellect and extraordinary powers of reasoning Whereas Elizabethan women were not having speech rights , forbidden from acting on public stages ,restrained from giving their opinions,less personal freedom as well as they were restricted from studying logic,law ,science etc.There lies the various differences between actual 16th-century women and Shakespeare heroines.
1)Cleopatra: She was the all-powerful queen of Egypt, everyone under her was loyal. She is the best in diplomacy and strikes personal relationships as a powerful diplomatic tool. She also demonstrated that she can speak as eloquently, intelligently, and on equal par with some of the greatest male figures in history: Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Octavius Caesar.On the other hand, Elizabethan age women had almost no individual identity and the mere adventure they would have done is marrying to a household in a distant land. The real women were uneducated and hence were unrepresented
2)Juliet: Her romantic story with Romeo is a worthy resemblance of what any modern urban romantic story would be like. The difference is the timeline. Juliet seems far more of a distinct identity, who somehow decided for her future, decisions, or even her love partner.While Elizabethan women were betrothed to any man at a young age that too as decided by her parents.
3) Viola: She is a bold girl. She goes on to disguise herself as a young man to find work, and charms a young woman, Olivia, with her frank wit and honesty, but even in disguise, she demonstrates the capacity for female fellowship. She Demonstrates how Shakespeare values mutual dependence in relationships between men and women.And obviously, the real Elizabethan era women had no part in any such mutual dependence concept. Women were only subject to social expectations of the household and childbearing, along with the prevalent right of men to beat their women.