Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Introducing Women in Shakespeares Plays

Introducing Women in Shakespeares Plays Shakespeare’s presentation of women in his plays demonstrates his feelings about women and their roles in society. As our guide to the types of female roles in Shakespeare demonstrates, women had less freedom than their male counterparts in Shakespeares time. Its well known that women werent allowed on the stage during Shakespeares active years. All of his  famous female roles like Desdemona and Juliette were in fact once played by men. Shakespeares Presentation of Women Women in Shakespeares plays are often underestimated.  While they were clearly restricted by their social roles, the Bard showed how women could influence the men around them. His plays showed the difference in expectations between upper and lower class women of the time. High-born women are presented as â€Å"possessions† to be passed between fathers and husbands. In most cases, they are socially restricted and unable to explore the world around them without chaperones. Many of these women were coerced and controlled by the men in their lives. Lower-born women were allowed more freedom in their actions precisely because they are seen as less important than higher-born women.   Sexuality in Shakespeares work Broadly speaking, female characters that sexually aware are more likely to be lower class. Shakespeare allows them more freedom to explore their sexuality, perhaps because their low-status renders them socially harmless. However, women are never totally free in Shakespeare’s plays: if not owned by husbands and fathers, many low-class characters are owned by their employers. Sexuality or desirability can also lead to deadly consequences  for Shakespeares women. Desdemona chose to follow her passion and defied her father to marry Othello. This passion is later used against her when the villainous Iago convinces her husband that if she would lie to her father she would lie to him as well. Wrongfully accused of adultery, nothing Desdemona says or does is enough to convince Othello of her faithfulness. Her boldness in choosing to defy her father ultimately leads to her death at the hands of her jealous lover. Sexual violence also plays a major role in some of the Bards work. This is seen most notably in Titus Andronicus where the character Lavinia is violently raped and mutilated. Her attackers cut out her tongue and remove her hands to prevent her from naming her attackers. After she is able to write their names her father then kills her to preserve her honor. Women in Power Women in power are treated with distrust by Shakespeare. They have questionable morals. For example, Gertrude in Hamlet marries her husband’s murdering brother and Lady Macbeth coerces her husband into murder. These women show a lust for power thats often on par or surpassing that of the men around them. Lady Macbeth especially is seen as a conflict between the masculine and feminine. She forgoes normal feminine traits like  motherly compassion for more masculine ones like ambition, which leads to the ruin of her family. For these women, the penalty for their scheming ways is normally death.   For a deeper understanding of Shakespeares women read our guide to the types of female characters in Shakespeare.

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