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Women Under Restraint: Women's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England

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  1. Eve, or the 'Original' Weaker Vessel
  2. Protestantism and the social position of women
  3. The position of women within puritanism

Religious beliefs were a fundamental part of life in early modern England; virtually everyone believed in a Christian God. The rise of the printing press allowed a new translation of the Bible, the Authorized King James Version of 1611 to fertilize households with biblical knowledge. The Bible was deemed the Word of God, the truth which provided an answer for every single issue. As a result, seventeenth-century patriarchal society drew on religious ideology to reinforce and substantiate women's submission. Thus, the Bible tremendously influenced the way women were considered. Women's spiritual, mental and physical worlds were limited and regulated. The preconceptions that society had about women's status directly affected their daily lives, as demonstrated in the religious, medical, literary, legal and political fields. Grandmother Eve, the embodiment of sin, was the first symbol used to justify women's subordination. Eve brought about the fall of all mankind; therefore, women represented a perpetual danger, since they were constantly tormented by their weak and corrupted nature. Conventional religious movements, belonging to Protestantism and Puritanism, agreed that women were the weaker sex and needed to be under masculine control.

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