Despite the main female protagonist, the Duchess, possessing admirable qualities for a woman of the Jacobean Era, with Bosola acknowledging her worth, stating that her “behaviour (is) so noble/As gives a majesty to adversity”, John Webster has created, as critic Badendyck describes, “a male diseased world” around her; she is forced to live in surroundings where male characters such as her brothers Ferdinand and The Cardinal abuse and humiliate her throughout the play- suggesting that Webster’s play does contain certain elements of misogyny. Nevertheless, Webster may have had the greater intention for the play actually being an advocate of feminism. Badendyck additionally states that “there is no denying that the luminous figure of the …show more content…
Bosola’s corrupt unstable disposition is overwhelmed by the Duchess’ constant virtuosity and impetuous pride for herself throughout the play. The Cardinal, out of everyone, should be the incorruptible figurehead, executing sanctity, but as Charles Forker describes in Skull
In Shakespeare’s sexist play, Macbeth, the eponymous character sacrifices his life and honor to become King. The setting of the play is in 11th century Scotland. Within the play, women, namely the Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth have an influence on Macbeth’s actions, suggesting that women are superior to males. However, since women with power have male characteristics or are viewed as evil, Shakespeare conveys women in the play are undeserving of power and authority should only be withheld by males.
Through Helena Shakespeare created a woman so pitiful and wretched that he openly mocked the modern sixteenth-century women who allowed themselves to be treated in such a manner. Had a man been the monarch of England when this play was written, the bard might have been more discrete in his support of feminism. Luckily, Queen Elizabeth was fond of autonomous women and showed little animosity towards such mockery.
The feminist school has various goals when being used to scrutinize a piece of literature. As Gillespie points out, historically texts were written by males with primarily male protagonists, and thus, the male sentiment is most dominantly expressed in many works of literature. The lessened representation of women in literature is usually confined to typical stereotypes of the historical period. This can be seen in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and this will be further explored and discussed. Through the feminist lens, women’s presence and portrayal in the play, as well as the common stereotypes about women in Shakespearean society, can be studied carefully, despite the centuries that have passed between the play’s conception and the present. Additionally, as stated in Literary Theories: A Sampling of Critical Lenses,
Gender stereotypes are not a modern notion and as such expectations and limitations have always existed for both men and women. Fortunately women, who have formerly beared great burdens of discrimination, now have very liberated roles in society as a result of slowly shifting attitudes and values. Shakespeare was integral in challenging the subservient role expected of women in the 16th century. Throughout the play, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, women are expressed as powerful characters who behave, speak and live in a way that breaks away from the conformist role of females during the 16th century. Therefore, the submissive stereotype expected of women in Shakespearean time is confronted and defied through
Though Madame Pernelle is a grouchy old lady who makes extremely uncouth remarks, her comments indicate that she has a strong sense of seniority and has the freedom to speak as she pleases. The maid, Dorine, demonstrates the power of defiance when she questions the motives of her boss as well as his daughter. She illustrates a strong fervent character who defies authority to obtain it. Lastly, Elmire reveals the influence of sharp thinking and women’s control in a marriage. Moliere’ has given us a feminist play where women ,that men and women can relate to, deal with modern problems in an 18th century time frame such as adjusting to change with the Madame Pernelle, dealing with inferiority with Dorine, and fighting for influence and trust in one’s spouse with Elmire. Though men have their parts in this play, the women most definitely step up to stimulate the action and prove that their influence is equal to men’s
When Abigail Williams is introduced in the play, she comes across as a very headstrong and ambitious young lady, yet she has ravenous needs for the consolidation of her affections. And it is a common stereotype for women to be
The most prominent woman figure in this play is Linda, but the male characters in this play also give us insight into women’s roles and help feed the feminist analyses
Female gender roles have greatly changed from now and the sixteen hundreds when Shakespeare wrote the popular play Much Ado About Nothing. Women were raised to believe they were inferior to men. Women were taught that men should be the one who brings in money and women should stay home to clean and bare children. Also women were given no choice in who they were to marry or when. Over hundreds of years women realized that they were just as good as men and that they should be treated equally. This essay will cover the analysis of the women’s gender roles in the play Much Ado About Nothing, showing the analysis of Beatrice not following any stereotypes, Hero following all of the stereotypes, and Margaret not getting the same stereotypes as other women because she is a servant.
If you were to read today’s headlines you might think that gender roles and gender identity are a modern concern. However, the part that gender and the roles assigned to the different genders play, is a topic at least as old as Shakespeare’s time. Because, the Bard himself addresses this very issue when we look deeper into his play, Macbeth. Lady Macbeth must be manlier when she feels her husband is too feminine in his manner and actions.
Throughout many pays and novels, women have had important roles of helping form the main characters, in the way they think, move or change the story. Women have always been subordinate to men all through history, but in plays, novels, short stories, etc, they have been given large enforcing roles, showing the power within women. William Shakespeare and Sophocles use guilt, pride, and influence to demonstrate the importance of the women’s role to support the main characters in both the plays of Macbeth and Antigone.
Shakespeare and Webster represent the female characters in ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The duchess of Malfi’ by using general themes such as the patriarchy and the social control, the female identity and its independence, this institution of marriage, the expressions of sexuality and finally women shown to be either conformist or transgressive. Men were firmly in control in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, and the expectations for women were to stay home, cook, clean and raise a family. Women’s status and roles were subject to the Tyranny of patriarchy, they were given strict disciplinary rules to follow whether by law or unspoken norms to prevent from rebellion. Women’s rights were restricted, legally, socially and economically, unlike today were women are more powerful and independent. Today women and men are seen to be equal and women can do pretty much everything a man can do (voting, working, becoming president) although there are many people still today who disagree with women having these rights.
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” Virginia Woolf once boldly stated. Though she was from a privileged background and was well educated, Woolf still felt she was faced with the oppression that women have been treated with for as far as history goes back. Her education allowed her to explore the works of the most celebrated authors, but one who she had a long and complicated relationship with was the Bard of Avon himself, William Shakespeare. As one of the most highly regarded and well studied authors of all time, Shakespeare has been elevated from mere playwright to a pillar of the British Empire, instrumental to the institutions that boasted British superiority. It is evident throughout Woolf’s writing that Shakespeare’s works were highly influential. Her novels frequently allude to his plays, most notably Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway, and also in her famous essay, A Room of One’s Own. Though Woolf admires Shakespeare’s androgyny (specifically in A Room of One’s Own), she also makes the case that his treatment of female characters does not allow for the women to be three-dimensional, therefore leaving them flat and lacking in depth. Even though for the most part Woolf’s assertion is correct, there are several examples in Shakespeare’s plays that suggest otherwise, namely in the play Othello. Additionally, in a similar vain, one could explore Shakespeare’s treatment of other minority groups in his works, such as Jews and anyone who is not English. Though it is easy to
Entertainment and education through the oppression of women finds a common place in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath Prologue and John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. In both stories the audience is introduced to the idea of female independence and strength through a confident and skilled female character who envelops the knowledge required to subvert the standards of patriarchal and misogynistic society. While both women in the The Wife of Bath Prologue and The Duchess of Malfi are varied characters who (think they) exude authority and seem to be able to live outside the limitations of a patriarchal society, at a closer look it is obvious this is not the case. Chaucer and Webster have both developed a story that parallel the stereotypes of the misogynist political and social structure of the time. Furthermore, they have blended comedy and entertainment to create stories that are didactic in nature they reaffirm the stereotype of unruly widows and ultimately show that no good will come to women who attempt to live outside the structural confines of the patriarchal and misogynist structures of society.
Shakespearean tragedy is a story of one, or at most two persons. As a rule, they are male protagonists. But to say that Shakespeare’s female characters are shallow, undeveloped and used just as a decoration on the stage is very wrong. Women in Shakespeare’s tragedies have no leading role and they are, to paraphrase Northrop Frye, not tragic heroines, but heroines in a tragedy.
Shakespeare and the members of the Elizabethan era would be appalled at the freedoms women experience today. The docility of Elizabethan women is almost a forgotten way of life. What we see throughout Shakespeare’s plays is an insight into the female character as perceived by Elizabethan culture. Shakespeare’s female characters reflect the Elizabethan era’s image of women; they were to be virtuous and obedient and those that were not were portrayed as undesirable and even evil.