Shakespearian comedies and tragedies mainly (principalmente) deal with man as a social unit (si occupano dell’uomo in quanto unità sociale); at the top of society was the Queen. Next to (accanto) the sovereign in the social order came (veniva) the nobility. Its members led (conducevano) a public life of luxury with large estates (proprietà) and many servants. They were expected (erano tenuti) to serve the state at their expense (spese) as ambassadors, generals, members of the Upper House of Parliament ecc. Next to the nobility in the chain (catena) of order came knights. A man was made knight by the sovereign. Below (sotto) the knights were the gentlemen (signori), men of good birth (buona famiglia). The Tudor age saw (ha visto) the advance (avanzata) of the yeomen (piccolo proprietari terrieri), farmers or merchants; this was a period of buildings (costruzioni). As for (per quanto riguarda) the poor, their conditions of life became even worse (divennero ancora peggio) and there was such fear (tanta paura) of the homeless unemployed (senzatetto disoccupati), that “the Poor Laws” were passed by the Parliament in 1601. In the family, the father was the head (capo) and the women had few right (avevano pochi diritti). On marriage, the woman’s goods (i beni della donna) and money passed into the possession (passavano nelle mani) of her husband (marito).
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