Context for Vinegar Tom Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 6 July 2017

Context for Vinegar Tom

In the 1960’s to the late 1970’s the second- wave feminism occurred, which refers to a period where feminist activities began to focus and overturn legal obstacles of equality for women. The women felt that this wave encouraged women to understand more about the psychological implications of the sexist stereotypes that were being made towards women and that women can be more then just a housewife. It was during the Second World War that many women experienced what working life was really like as they worked side by side with other men, and this is when achievements were being recognized.

It was not until the 1960’s that the women’s movements became successful. Caryl Churchill was a feminist writer and she based her play “Vinegar Tom” around the witch hunt which accrued during the 1500’s and early 1600’s. The witch hunt reached it peak in Europe during the late 1500’s and many victims who were mostly women were falsely accused, and were tortured until they confessed. They faced going to prison, banishment or even execution. In the American Colonies, a small number of accused witches were persecuted in New England from the mid-1600’s to the early 1700’s.

Some were banished and others were executed. One of the most famous American witch hunts took place in the town of Salem in 1692. There, the village girls got together and played games to do with witchcraft and that then soon got out of hand, leading to 150 imprisonment and lots of innocent deaths. Nineteen men and women were convicted and hanged as witches. A man who refused to plead either innocent or guilty to the witchcraft charge was pressed to death with large stones.

However in today’s society a lot has changed to what time use to be like in the 16th century as women are treated very differently. In today’s society women have more statues then they did and so they are entitled to do more and have equal opportunities just as men do. Back then the stereotypical view of a woman’s porpoise was that they get married, provide children and become a housewife. This view was believed to be right by women as well as men, and if a woman disagreed with these view they believed that there must be something wrong with them to go against what everyone else is doing.

Being individual was not possible as they believed that the only purpose for a female was to serve the men and provide the children. Caryl Churchill shows this view in Vinegar Tom scene six, where Betty is tied to a chair and she is being bled by the doctor because they believe that she is ill as she refuses to marry a man that her parents have found for her. The idea of her being ill is shown through the song “Oh Doctor” as well. The songs that are used in the story I believe were the thoughts of Caryl Churchill and what she thought of the situation.

An example of this, I think is a part in the song where it states: “Why are you putting my brain in my cunt? You’re putting me back all back to front” This shows how women were not looked at their intelligentsia but looked at as a type of ownership by men to give them children and look after the house work. This shows how women were not aloud to be themselves and have their own opinion but go with what the society believes is right otherwise you would be classed as being mentally unhealthy.

Whilst, this is completely different to today’s society as women are not expected to just marry and become a house wife, as they can go out and get a job and earn for the household just as men do. Also they marry who they want and when they want and are not expected to marry as soon as you get to a certain age just so that you can do what a woman is stereotypically believe to be doing. Caryl Churchill has an issue through out each scene in Vinegar Tom and it shows different problems that occurred to women such as verbal abuse and being used for sex.

It also shows the views of how after you get old you are seen as useless and not wanted. And example of this would be off the character Joan. In scene five when Jack goes to Joan’s house to collect a bowl that his wife has give to her, he treats her with no respect. “Bowl my wife gave you some eggs in, you ungrateful old hag” This shows how he does not care about her and does not feel any sympathy for her even though she is old and weak. He uses bad language towards her and even threatens to break her neck if she talks to him again.

This shows how he does not have any respect for women and if a woman ever answered back to him he would beat her to show that he is more powerful and higher status than a woman. Feminism is different today as the law does not allow anymore to be treated differently based on sex. For example The Equality Act 2006 This Act outlawed gender discrimination and harassment in all public functions. It also created a general duty on all public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between women and men.

There are also specific duties for listed organizations, including the production of a Gender Equality Scheme. This allows people to be treated the same as it’s against the law if someone does not go by it. It also helps to educate people that what’s they are doing is wrong and that the right thing would be to treat everyone the same no matter how different they are compared to you. However, Vinegar Tom is still relevant to today as some of things that are stated in the story still happen now. An example of this is the characters of Jack and Margery.

In the story they believe that all the bad things that are happening to them are because of Joan and so they shift them blame on her. In scene ten, Jack and Margery use Joan as a scape-goat to their problems. “Margery: it is, isn’t it, Jack? Mother Noakes, isn’t it? Jack: It was Mother Nokes in that glass. ” This shows how they try and use Joan as the main cause of their problem which later on results to her being hanged, as she is accused of being a witch. They think that by blaming her and then avoiding her, the problem will go away and that they will not get blamed about anything.

This is similar to today’s society as when people come to a problem that they get caught in the middle of they try to find another course for it to try and take them blame of them and shift it onto someone else so that they do not have to deal with it. For example if two children are playing football and one of them kicks it hard and breaks a window by accident, because they know that they will get in trouble by their parents as well as the people who’s windows they just broke, they will try to shift the blame on their friend as well so that they can avoid getting in lots of trouble.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 6 July 2017

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