Male-Female Relationships in Shakespeare

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Male-Female Relationships in Shakespeare

The women of Shakespeare’s plays are a highly discussed topic by many critics. Shakespeare portrays various aspects of his female characters through their relationships with the men in their lives. Numerous Shakespearean females appear to be strong, independent characters and would not be perceived as such if it were not for their relationship or relationships with the men in their lives. Shakespeare likes to focus his attention on the relationships between fathers and daughters, as well as the relationship between husbands and wives. If it were not for these key relationships, the reader or audience member would not get as much insight into the demeanor of the female characters portrayed in Shakespeare’s plays.

Shakespeare’s most prominent male – female relationship is the father – daughter relationship. He shows this relationship in numerous plays and each is usually portrayed in the same manner: the father wants to control his daughter in every way possible. According to Domination and Defiance: Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare, “Repeatedly, his plays depict the father at middle life, reluctant to release his daughter into adulthood and face his own decline, while she stands at the threshold of adult commitment in marriage” (Dreher 1). Therefore, most of the tension created between the fathers and daughters revolves around the impending marriages of the daughters. For example, in numerous Shakespearean plays, the father usually chooses his daughter’s husband, which normally does not bode well with the daughter.

The father – daughter troubled relationship usually stems from the daughter maturing and the father not being prepared to have his daughter no...

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...robably watch Hermia’s relationship with her father and see a piece of their own father – daughter relationship. Therefore, the strong female characters are born with the aid of the male counterparts in their lives.

Works Cited

Dash, Irene G. Wooing, Wedding, and Power: Women in Shakespeare’s Plays. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Dreher, Diane Elizabeth. Domination and Defiance: Father and Daughters in Shakespeare. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. David Bevington. New York:

Longman, 2002.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. David Bevington. New York: Longman, 2002.

Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. David Bevington. New York: Longman, 2002.

Widdicombe, Toby. Simply Shakespeare. New York: Longman, 2002.
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