How does this reflect gender views of the time? Thanks for all the help aslan.
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Here is the actual text,
Had he his hurts before?
Ay, on the front.
Why then, God's soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death:
And so, his knell is knoll'd.
Old Siward is concerned that his son died fighting like a man because his wounds were on his front. No father wants to find out his son had died running like a coward with his wounds on his back! Old Siward isn't too broken up because his son died like a "man". Dying a "man" was evidently more important than having a son.
Old Siward is told that his son has been killed in battle. Shakespeare uses Siward's reaction to his son's death to point up the theme of honor. Siward wants to know if Young Siward was wounded in the front of his body. (That is where he would be wounded if he was fighting. If he were running away, he would have been wounded in the back.) Told that his son's wounds are in the front, he says he is not grieved. He is proud, because his son died a good soldier's death.