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Female Suffering In Shakespeare Essay

Decent Essays
Female Suffering The objectification of female suffering is a common theme among plays. While female suffering serves to represent an aesthetic purpose in tragedies and dramas, this leads to female characters being objectified. Shakespeare brings out the absurdity of female objectification for aesthetic purposes in his play Titus Andronicus through the suffering of Lavinia as her pain is equated to scenes of nature, despite being brutally raped and mutilated. While in the Metamorphoses, Ovid uses female suffering as an aesthetic tool in stories like “Io and Jove” and “Apollo and Daphne” to further the beauty in the myths. Overall, Shakespeare critiques Ovid’s use of the aesthetic prerogative to represent female suffering through themes of nature by highlighting the absurd juxtapositions between the two. While Shakespeare’s character Lavinia is not literally transformed into an object, her suffering is compared to landscape scenes. When she gets raped by Demetrius and Chiron, they rob her of all agency as they cut off her tongue and chop off her hands so…show more content…
In “Io and Jove,” Io is transformed into a cow. Ovid remarks that “even as a heifer she was lovely, / Great Juno – grudgingly – praised the cow’s beauty” (Ovid 1.27). As Io suffers, Ovid writes how beautiful she is as a heifer. The juxtaposition Ovid makes between aesthetic suffering and nature is different than Shakespeare in that Io actually gets turned into a cow, while Lavinia stays a human and is just compared to a fountain as she bleeds out. The aestheticizing of female suffering does not seem as odd in the Metamorphoses as it does in Titus Andronicus partly because the Metamorphoses is full of myths, gods, and transformations. The details of her transformation in the story is just to aestheticize her as a cow, instead of highlighting the absurdity in the
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