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The Role of Women in Richard II

Powerful Essays
The Role of Women in Richard II
Throughout the historical literary periods, many writers underrepresented and undervalued the role of women in society, even more, they did not choose to yield the benefits of the numerous uses of the female character concerning the roles which women could accomplish as plot devices and literary tools. William Shakespeare was one playwright who found several uses for female characters in his works. Despite the fact that in Shakespeare's history play, Richard II, he did not use women in order to implement the facts regarding the historical events. Instead, he focused the use of women roles by making it clear that female characters significantly enriched the literary and theatrical facets of his work. Furthermore in Shakespeare’s history play, King Richard II, many critics have debated the role that women play, especially the queen. One of the arguments is that Shakespeare uses the queen’s role as every women’s role to show domestic life and emotion. Jo McMurtry explains the role of all women in his book, Understanding Shakespeare’s England A Companion for the American Reader, he states, “Women were seen, legally and socially, as wives. Marriage was a permanent state” (5). McMurtry argues that every woman’s role in the Elizabethan society is understood to be a legal permanent state that is socially correct as wives and mothers. Other critics believe that the role of the queen was to soften King Richard II’s personality for the nobles and commoners opinion of him. Shakespeare gives the queen only a few speaking scenes with limited lines in Acts two, four, and five through-out the play. Also, she is mentioned only a few times by several other of the characters of the play and is in multiple scenes wit...

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...uld not be provide through any other character in the play as Martha Andresen-Thom states, “Though forced by sad circumstances that gesturer of trust frees them both…such is the “model” at the heart of this little society.. the ascendant of traditional feminine values” (Thinking About Women And Their Prosperous Art: A Reply To Juliet Dusinberre's Shakespeare And The Nature Of Women, 269-270). Andresen-Thom advises that in the farewell scene Richard is softened and shows emotion to his wife which frees him in the end to take a stand to fight at the end. Also, the Queen trust him as she lets go to be sent back to France, thus Shakespeare is keeping her in her domestic role of wife by obeying her husband. Once more, Shakespeare makes it clear that he uses the women characters like the Queen in the play as instrument to thicken the emotional depth and plot of his work.
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