Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.
1. Gender roles within the construct of marriage have changed dramatically over time. Significant historical events in Europe and North America from the 19th century until the present day, for example, have contributed to shifts in power dynamics in married couples. What are some of the differences in ways that married couples interacted in the 19th century versus their interaction today? In what ways have the general characteristics of marriage as an institution changed? What historical events likely contributed to these changes?
Teaching Suggestion: This question will prepare students for an important idea in the play: the emancipation of women—for example, financially, legally, and emotionally—from inegalitarian marriages. Students might be encouraged to make connections with material learned in World and U.S. History courses regarding women’s right to vote, the role of women in the workforce, the sexual revolution, and changes in the traditional understanding of marriage in the late 20th century. Preliminary discussions regarding the theme of Objectification and Sexism can serve as segues into the text itself.