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Hamnet


"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously ...
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How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ in their approach to women's work in the world and rearing children, especially their daughters? How do you feel Agnes's insights affect her decisions as a mother?

Created: 06/16/22

Replies: 8

Posted Jun. 16, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3442

How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ in their approach to women's work in the world and rearing children, especially their daughters? How do you feel Agnes's insights affect her decisions as a mother?

Discuss the lineage of mothers within the two families in the novel vis-à-vis the expectations of women at the time. How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ in their approach to women's work in the world and rearing children, especially their daughters?

How do you feel Agnes's insights, especially her vision of two children at the foot of her deathbed, affect her decisions as a mother?


Posted Jun. 16, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janetp

Join Date: 08/16/11

Posts: 25

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

Mary and Joan have a hard time understanding Agnes. Their approaches to women's work in the world were probably more typical of women in that era. Agnes's approach to life was different from anything but heroines in novels. This doesn't mean that I didn't buy into the character of Agnes, in fact it is how I wish that at least some women in the time thought and behaved. And there probably were women who were as independent and wise as Agnes, thus the mention more than once of spousal abuse. I'm thinking that John was definitely different from most men, which was somewhat believable being familiar with Shakespeare's plays and especially his sonnets.


Posted Jun. 23, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 1067

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

Joan and Mary are more traditional housewives of the era, taking care of the children, running the household and managing their servants. Agnes, however, was more concerned with the natural world around her and less concerned with the things that needed to be done around the house.

I think Agnes's insights actually blinded her in some regards. It caused her to expect Judith to die in infancy, while neglecting Hamnet. I'm not sure what impact (if any) that had on Hamnet's survival, but who knows, his death may have been preventable if she'd realized earlier that he was ill.


Posted Jun. 25, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
arlenei

Join Date: 08/12/21

Posts: 114

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

Mary and Joan seemed to portray typical women during that period of time. Agnes was very different; she was a healer. Everyday running of her household was not what she wanted. Although Agnes starts off being independent and confident by the novels end I see her reverting to behaving “like the daughter of a farmer.”


Posted Jun. 26, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliep

Join Date: 04/07/12

Posts: 265

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

Agnes always knew she was different, that she had an affinity with nature and using nature to heal people. She worked hard as a wife and mother, but a lot of her time and energy went to her healing arts. Her visions also affected her - she saw herself with two children, not three. But I don’t think she had any pre-warning or vision of Hamnet dying, and the plague worked too fast for her to do anything to save him.


Posted Jul. 10, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jos

Join Date: 03/14/21

Posts: 156

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

I felt the other women were complicit in being lead by the norm of their society were Agnes was much more untuned to her self. She was a naturalists/healer, she didn’t deny herself things she truly believed would bring her joy, and she was a good listener, not only to her own heart and desires but to nature and other peoples nature. She and her brother was total in tune with her husbands discontent and what was causing it.


Posted Jul. 11, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amyjo804

Join Date: 04/14/22

Posts: 10

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

Agnes seems to be misunderstood by nearly everyone outside of her nuclear family. But she remains independent, free-thinking, and loves being a mother. Perhaps her insights about two people at the end of her deathbed made her cherish every minute she had with all three of her children, knowing that one of them would die before she does. Mary and Joan are hard, harsh, inflexible characters that depict the customary roles of women during that time period. They do not seem happy and comfortable with their families, like Agnes is.


Posted Jul. 14, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MariontheLibrarian

Join Date: 05/27/21

Posts: 43

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

A factor not mentioned in any of the above comments has to do with stepmothers and step children. Agnes and her brother had a special bond with their birth mother and each other and often felt left out, especially in their step family. Birth position and whether you were a boy or girl were important in that time period and are evident in O'Farrel's writing. While Agnes had special healing interests and skills, she also had traditional housekeeping skills. When she first arrived in town, her mother-in-law notes that the servants had learned to do chores more efficiently and effectively--simple things like the laundry.


Posted Jul. 17, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lesleyf

Join Date: 05/14/11

Posts: 119

RE: How do Mary, Joan, and Agnes differ ...

While all the comments of "traditional women of the age" have merit, Marion the Librarian has hit upon the real difference. Mothers-in-law and stepmothers!!!!! And both those two had rather more spectacularly difficult lives than average.
With her special gifts, and only ethereal contact with her own mother for advice, Agnes dealt with her children as best she could and in her special way.


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