Feminist Literary Criticism and Lysistrata Essay

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Classically, women playwrights are almost completely absent. There were virtually no women writers at all up until at least the seventeenth century. This fact originally led feminist critics to disregard the classical period. In an article titled “Classical Drag: The Greek Creation of Female Parts,” Sue Ellen Case states that because “traditional scholarship has focused on evidence related to written texts, the absence of women playwrights became central to early feminist investigations” (132). Despite this absence of female writers, feminist critics analyze the role of women in ancient Greece in other ways. Recently, feminist writers have been able to delve further into the classical period by examining female characters from the works of …show more content…
They are what men think women actually are. By looking at the roles in which men place those fictional women, we can examine the “cultural ‘mind-set’ in men and women which perpetuates cultural inequality” (Barry 122). This representation of women is a main concern of feminist literary critics. Women characters in classical drama, such as Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, are not so much realistic, well-rounded female characters, but figments of a classical male imagination. The representations of the women in Lysistrata are unrealistic in terms of their behavior towards one another as well as the relative amount of power that they gain through their attempt to influence the diplomacy of the men. However, the societal constraints on their behavior are somewhat accurate. Women in ancient Greek society had little to no political or social influence. Originally, they took part in the traditional religious practices, like the festivals of the god Dionysus. “In the sixth century, both women and men participated in these ceremonies, but by the fifth century, when ceremonies were becoming what is known as theatre, women disappeared from the practice” (Case 133). This decline in female involvement was due to the prevalence of merging ideas of appropriate social conduct and morality more so than any particular laws excluding them. A rise in the importance of women’s role coincided with the rise of the family
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