The Women of Shakespeare

Talk about the debates as they progress and after they conclude.
koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

This was the title of a thesis paper that I wrote in Gr 11 English Literature.

I was given a poor grade because I came up with an original thesis and therefore could not quote another author saying exactly the same thing. I believe I came up with enough evidence from the plays themselves. The thesis is thus:

Through the female characters of Shakespeare's plays, it can be seen that he felt a successful woman could integrate masculine and feminine characteristics to create a whole person.

Starting examples:

Portia as a strong, balanced woman

Cleopatra as a strong imbalanced woman

Discuss.

Find proof or disproof for the thesis.

Add other examples that prove or disprove the thesis.
koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

Pinky;477280 wrote: Well, if you take Lady Macbeth as an example, she displays very overt masculine qualities as well as great strength. In facrt she even says she's ashamed to 'wear a heart so white' in others words feeling no regret over her actions.

The best quote to back this up imo is 'unsex me here'. Says it all really!


excellent.

Portia actually dresses as a man to face Shylock in trial. This happens in a number of Shakespeare's plays.
koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

Pinky;477297 wrote: One of my fave Shakespeare characters has to be Beatrice in 'Much Ado'.

She swears that she'll never marry or be any man's property, and gives Benedick more than a run for his money when it comes to witty retorts!

The masked ball scene cracks me up every time.

I suppose that wouldn't seem that masculine today, but would have been quite unusual in the 1600's.


That indicates, to me, that she has a balance of masculine and feminine which lends to her success.

Lady Macbeth goes too far in the opposite direction where she rejects her feminine side so completely that she would

"have plucked her nipple from [her child's] boneless gums

and dashed the brains out..."
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zinkyusa
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by zinkyusa »

koan;477278 wrote: This was the title of a thesis paper that I wrote in Gr 11 English Literature.

I was given a poor grade because I came up with an original thesis and therefore could not quote another author saying exactly the same thing. I believe I came up with enough evidence from the plays themselves. The thesis is thus:

Through the female characters of Shakespeare's plays, it can be seen that he felt a successful woman could integrate masculine and feminine characteristics to create a whole person.

Starting examples:

Portia as a strong, balanced woman

Cleopatra as a strong imbalanced woman

Discuss.

Find proof or disproof for the thesis.

Add other examples that prove or disprove the thesis.


Great topic, I think he certainly felt women could sucessfully integrate masculine and feminie characteristics to create a whole person but often they didn't. To piggyback on pinky's comments about Lady Macbeth, here we have what amounts to a character utterly devoid of ethics. Though not entirely representative of Shakespeare's opinion of educated women, his treatment of Lady Macbeth may suggest that a woman's intellectual ability, when miss-used, has adverse effects on the individual and those surrounding her. This attribution of cunning intellect and calculated control do not represent a healthy integration IMO.
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koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

zinkyusa;477306 wrote: Great topic, I think he certainly felt women could sucessfully integrate masculine and feminie characteristics to create a whole person but often they didn't. To piggyback on pinky's comments about Lady Macbeth, here we have what amounts to a character utterly devoid of ethics. Though not entirely representative of Shakespeare's opinion of educated women, his treatment of Lady Macbeth may suggest that a woman's intellectual ability, when miss-used, has adverse effects on the individual and those surrounding her. This attribution of cunning intellect and calculated control do not represent a healthy integration IMO.


right. because she rejects her feminine instead of integrating it.

The fate of the character in the story should coincide with the theory when looking at the balance of the characters masculine and feminine. In Lady Macbeth she went too far.
koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

Ophelia is condemned by Hamlet for being too soft. She embodied the feminine without the balance of any masculine whatsoever. She's actually a pretty pathetic, two dimensional character as far as Shakespeare goes. He puts her to her end quite rightly.
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zinkyusa
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by zinkyusa »

Pinky;477320 wrote: In 'The Taming of the Shrew' you see a personality turnaround with the character of Katherine, who starts out bad tempered, obnoxious and bitter, and ends up extolling the virtues of married life!:wah:

Mad, I tell ya!

So, I guess you could say that she discovers and integrates her feminine side.


or she comes around to what society expects of her..;)
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koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

Finally I found solid backing for the thesis!!!

In his own time, Shakespeare seems to have been raising questions about the standard images of males and females, about what the characteristics of each gender are, about what is defined as masculine and feminine, about how each gender possesses both masculine and feminine qualities and behaviors, about the nature and power of a hegemonic patriarchy, and about the roles women and men should play in acting out the stories of their lives.

Revisiting Shakespeare and Gender

Jeanne Gerlach, Rudolph Almasy, and Rebecca Daniel

I'd still like to find as many examples as possible with which to construct an essay. Dive into your complete works and bring your examples here!
koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

The character of Rosalind, from As You Like It, is considered erotic precisely because of the combination of masculine and feminine that she embodies.

Because even though the audience knows that under her male exterior, Rosalind is still a woman, there are moments when she does manage to seem convincingly male, and the males in the audience, like Orlando, at moments find themselves erotically attracted to someone who gives every appearance of being a teenage boy.

source
koan
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The Women of Shakespeare

Post by koan »

Diuretic;477477 wrote: Now I now this is very much an obvious point but could it have been that Shakespeare's portrayal of women was meant to impress Queen Elizabeth?

I probably half-remembered that from school :o


It wouldn't be so thorough. He includes women of all types. How they meet their fate and why is a bit obscure to have been a tactic on the writer's behalf just to impress the queen. Considering how he generally portrayed Queens in the same set of plays.

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