Educational Resources for Teachers
Gillings, Matthew. “Shakespeare and Social Status.” Encyclopedia of Shakespeare’s Language, 5 June 2017, http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/shakespearelang/2017/06/05/shakespeare-and-socialstatus/.
This website is host to a plethora of blogs about Shakespeare. Gilling’s blog in particular explains the importance of class in Shakespeare’s work. Although this source does not particularly discuss classism, it specifies the parameters of class in the early modern time period. This source can serve as a great starting point for the discussion of class in Shakespeare’s time period. Not only could this blog bemused by teachers, but teachers would be able to give it to their students to read as it is easily approachable for high schoolers.
Hoffman, T. J. “Talk of Peace with Swords Drawn: Romeo and Juliet as a Cautionary Tale of Hierarchy and Sacrifice.” no date. Florida State University, 2004, https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu%3A182205/.
In this free to access thesis, Hoffman examines the function of René Girard’s sacrificial crisis theory in Romeo and Juliet’s social order in relations to the cultural perceptions and restrictions of gender, marriage, and class. Hoffman presents an interpretive argument to broaden the mind of the audience into considering the importance of the family feud and its consequential violence as a social commentary upon the danger of adhering to the rigid, factionalized, hierarchy and reflecting upon the culture that would appropriate such violence in the supposedly civilized Elizabethan society. The mediums of cultural violence and gendered perspectives of this violence that Hoffman analyzes are the rites of festivity, marriage, and sacrificial justice in the context of patriarchal capitalism.
Moisan, Thomas. “‘Knock me here soundly’: Comic Misprision and Class Consciousness in Shakespeare.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 3, 1991, pp. 276-290. https://doi.org/10.2307/2870844.
Moisan’s scholarly article explores the ways in which moments between members of superior and inferior social class standings work to accomplish a kind of comedy in Shakespeare’s works. Although Moisan does not explicitly inspect Romeo and Juliet, instances of class differences can readily be identified in the play. Therefore, having students analyze features of classism in Romeo and Juliet can provide opportunities to ponder such questions as how creative works can effectively perpetuate or challenge various social realities. Additional implications of Shakespeare’s representation of class can be found in the article for teachers to pursue in class.
Rambler. “Gender and Class in Romeo and Juliet.” Literary Ramblings, 5 June 2013, https://www.literaryramblings.com/1000-books-in-10-years-vol-242-romeo-and-julietattributed-to-william-shakespeare/. Accessed 20 November 2020.
This text uses sexism and classism to explain some of the characters in Romeo and Juliet. The character of the Nurse and the Apothecary bring to light the classism happening in the play. Explaining the force that the upper class (i.e., the Capulets and Montagues) bring to the table that make lower class people bend to their will and leave behind their morals. It also plays with the difference of the Nurse and the Apothecary with their relationships to the upper class in terms of what they can and cannot get away with when disobeying the upper class.