The men and women presented in Shakespeare’s plays King Lear and Othello both differ and are similar in various ways. Shakespeare adheres to many contemporary stereotypes of how men and women should or should not have acted in the Jacobean era. Gender is of great significance in his plays as the society of the Jacobean era was patriarchal, therefore it comes as no surprise that men and women are presented differently. Women have often been associated with weakness or inferior intelligence. According to Gibson women in the Jacobean era were “a different species from men, far inferior in rational thought”.
The Role of Women in Hamlet in William Shakespeare's Play Gertrude and Ophelia, the only two women in Hamlet, reflect the general status of women in Elizabethan Times. Women were suppressed by the males in their lives (brothers, fathers, and partners) and were always inferior. Ophelia and Gertrude have little or no power due to restricted legal, social and economic rights that were found in Elizabethan society. The male characters in Hamlet reflect this sexist view point, represented by Hamlet’s judgement that “frailty, thy name is woman”. This view was not uncommon in Shakespeare’s time and heavily influenced Shakespeare to present women the way he does in Hamlet.
He also portrays women as vulnerable to show that society believed women were weak to love and could only make unwise or dangerous decisions because of it. Although there are no facts of Shakespeare’s viewpoints on certain issues, readers receive incite of his view of women through their portrayals in his
Lady Macbeth’s “unsex me speech” leads her to acquire male attributes throughout the play, Lady Macduff openly criticizes her husband for leaving, and minor characters such as “the sailor’s wife” are inhospitable and unaccommodating. Although this seems to portray support for modern views of women, this is not true. It, in fact, reinforces traditional roles, as every “strong independent woman” within the play is punished. Women that go against “natural gender roles” disrupt order and lose their personal stability. This is evidenced by the actions of Lady Macbeth, minor female characters such as the sailor’s wife and the gentlewoman, and Lady Macduff.
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. When one considers Shakespeare’s female characters, one has to remember that the plays were written in a time when women were considered weak-minded creatures who were apt to make bad choices if given the freedom.
Much of the literature composed in Elizabethan England reflects, whether deliberately or inadvertently, the gender inequities cited by Callaghan, Novy, and others. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the dynamics of the marriage between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth involve a mutual striving towards manhood as a result of misplaced gender traits in each. Shakespeare develops the androgyny of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and this becomes the basis for the offenses they commit in the play. Both characters achieve a position of power and authority through the use of their masculine characteristics, but their feminine characteristics make their gains tenuous and ultimataly cause their downfall. Throughout the play Shakespeare presents the feminine traits within Macbeth as the characteristics that mark him as a flawed man.
In the Shakespearean comedy, Taming of the Shrew, author William Shakespeare displays disrespect towards women by including sexist remarks. He also portrays women as being obedient to men, who are more significant in that time. Shakespeare portrays women being obedient to their husbands and the men being more appreciated and significant in his play Taming of the Shrew. During the Elizabethan era, men were more powerful and the more significant gender type, while women were more obedient and silent. This gender difference influenced how the society viewed women during this time.
The main example of Hamlet showing the act of being callous and over controlling is when... ... middle of paper ... ...on the men, which was part of Shakespeare’s play of writing. Shakespeare shows how the women characters are not strong minded, but shows how their love and deception towards the male characters leads them to their behavior. Lead to their own demises due to the flaws such as dependence they have. The male characters bossed the women around and the women did as they were told. Shakespeare used Gertrude and Ophelia to show how the men seemed to do as they wished and women were forced to follow.
Females during the time period were considered inferior to men. Over the course of the semester, we have read some beautiful plays from comedies to tragedies; Shakespeare’s later plays exhibited an extensively wide range of female characters from the weak, obedient to the strong, empowering woman. One of the examples of this would be Ophelia in Hamlet exhibits weak and obedient characteristics whereas Viola in Twelfth Night is a strong female role that breaks the gender roles by disguising herself as a male and proving women are equivalent to men. Even Shakespeare’s weakest female characters seem to break some of the stereotypical role of the period. For example, Ophelia does listen to her father, however, talks back to Hamlet which during the Renaissance breaks the stereotypical role.
Some women are stronger than others, and their effect on the play is different for each one. They often even surpass the male heroes. It’s almost unbelieveable, if we take into consideration the status of women, of course with its discrimination and cruel conditions, in Shakespeare’s days - sixteenth century Elizabethan England. But there could have been many reasons, why he gave his characters such qualities. It could have been the Queen Elizabeth I. on the throne, or a certain influence of his marriage with older woman.