Shakespeare Women

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Women have played monumental roles in many of the most influential historical events in human history. However, until a relatively short time ago, women were seen as extremely inferior to men, and were openly treated as such. This was a well-known social norm throughout ancient civilizations such as the Greek and Roman Empires, and even into the Elizabethan Age of the 16th Century. “Documents of all the ancient cultures (Greek, Roman, Mosaic, Hebrew, Celtic, Germanic, Assyrian, Christian, Babylonian) depict women as already subordinated to men socially and legally. Among the many quotes from the Bible that insist upon women's inferiority is this one from Genesis 3:xvi 'Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee'”(Wojtczak).…show more content…
Although some great thinkers wavered from this inequality of women, such as Socrates as stated in Plato’s Republic, many great thinkers stayed true to the socially accepted idea that women were much the inferior of men. However, William Shakespeare as brilliant in his works by using women as supporting characters with very important roles. In this way, he showed women on the surface as being of little to no importance, yet when a reader delves deeper into the context, they will find the true importance of these female characters. As once stated by John Ruskin - “an English artist and a leading art critic of the Victorian era”( Editors) - “Shakespeare has no heroes’ only heroines.” Shakespeare’s treatment of women can be seen throughout a number of his plays, including Hamlet, MacBeth, Lear, and…show more content…
In the play, King Lear, Shakespeare portrays some of his female characters as smart, cunning, and controlling. Out of King Lear’s three daughters only one, Cordelia, truly loves him, while the other two, Goneril and Regan, are quite vicious, cunning, and controlling. “Goneril and Regan knew exactly what their father wanted to hear and they appeased him... In this play, Goneril and Regan carry more masculine qualities. They are strong-willed and cunning”(Shailaja). While Shakespeare showed women as equally as important as men in his play, King Lear, he did not treat women with as much respect in his play, Othello. As stated by Assistant Professor A. Shailaja of Santhiram Engineering College when discussing the role of Desdemona, “In Othello, she is weak in the sense that she is unable to defend herself against her husband’s claims or his anger at the end of her life. She is also unable to realize that it is her behavior towards Cassio which is further contributing to Othello’s anger. She does not seem to think about her actions; instead she simply behaves exactly how Iago thinks she will based off her predictable nature.” Through this, it is clear that Shakespeare was able to manipulate the treatment of women throughout his different plys to better contribute to the overall plot of the
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