Lady Elizabeth Tanfield Cary,
Elizabeth (Tanfield) Cary is an important literary figure worthy of study in the 21st century because she was a rebel with a cause for women?s rights, especially within marriage; because she became a rebel with a religious cause; and finally, because she was the first Englishwoman to write and publish a drama, The Tragedy of Mariam (1613).
Elizabeth (Tanfield) Cary was born in 1585, was the only child of Judge Sir Lawrence Tanfield (Weller), and was provided a strict but extensive education (Krontiris). Cary?s life was characterized by her constant struggle between the pressures of conformity and submission and an inner imperative to resist and challenge authority. Societal expectations of women at this time were that women were to be nominally educated, if at all. Women were to be quiet and meek, to be subservient to men in all regards, to be used as an asset when arranging marriages. Women were to be a beautiful ornament on the arm of their husband in society, to bear and raise his children, and were expected to have no thoughts or opinions on matters of politics or religion. Women had no power to
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