In most societies, women are seen as subordinates to men. During the Elizabethan period of England, men were superior to women, because women were looked upon as less valuable during this period of time. Occasionally, women gained recognition from men. However, men took responsibilities, and were seen as more important. In the Shakespearean comedy, Taming of the Shrew, author William Shakespeare displays disrespect towards women by including sexist remarks.
According to Gibson women in the Jacobean era were “a different species from men, far inferior in rational thought”. This supports the idea that women are dissimilar from men as women have always been portrayed as weak and “inferior”, in contrast to men who have been portrayed as powerful and “firmly in control” . However, Shakespeare’s work also carries stronger underlying connotations that women do share similar traits as men which contrast greatly with the typical view of men and women at the time. In King Lear, Cordelia returns with an army, act 4.4; this puts her in a place of power as she is in control of her soldiers. Shakespeare’s portrayal of women is revolutionary to the Jacobean era and would have been very controversial to the audience at the time.
In the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, love plays a huge role in the actions and consciences of many of the characters. Although the play is a comedy, it gives incite of Shakespeare’s view of women how they were treated during his time. Women usually had to marry men who they didn’t love and it was inevitable that women were to become solely dependent on men. Similar to many writers, Shakespeare expressed his opinions on sensitive subjects through his works. Shakespeare’s portrayal of women at his time were that they could allow themselves to be rebellious and vulnerable only when influenced by love.
Othello feels that since she is a possession of his, he is the only man who has control over how she is treated. Othello’s authority over Desdemona, and her willingness to accept the role of the perfect woman, lead to the expected relationships where women are dominated by their men. The women of the play all have very diverse, strong and powerful personalities and all have good intentions, but tend to get stepped on by the men that they are associated with. William Shakespeare provides his own critical opinion of the male/female relationships of the Elizabethan era, within the play Othello. Emilia struggles to please Iago while he gives her no acknowledgement of her efforts.
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest provides dialogue that portrays the social expectations and stereotypes imposed upon women in Elizabethan times. Even though the play has only one primary female character, Miranda, the play also includes another women; Sycorax, although she does not play as large a roll. During many scenes, the play illustrates the characteristics that represent the ideal woman within Elizabethan society. These characteristics support the fact that men considered women as a mere object that they had the luxury of owning and were nowhere near equal to them. Feminists can interpret the play as a depiction of the sexist treatment of women and would disagree with many of the characteristics and expectations that make Miranda the ideal woman.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s consideration of gender roles throughout The Great Gatsby reflect the sheer unbalance between the value of men and women in traditional households. Throughout the novel women are seen living a life controlled by men, and accepting their loss of independence for the materialistic values of life. Women follow the social code of the 1920’s to seem ladylike, leading them to succumb to uniform and object like personas. Scenes of blatant sexism are the strongest representation of the gender gap and the loss of morals throughout the 1920’s. “I’m glad it’s a girl.
Women have struggled to obtain their own identities and become independent, but as time has evolved women have developed and are able to be independent. Surprisingly it is being accepted. Even through some of the greatest literature women are exposed are flat characters. Meaning that they never have too much personality or they don’t possess any purpose to the story. Feminist Critic believes that “literature is merely one of the many expressions of the patriarchal society with a vested interest in keeping women subordinate to men.” (Feminist Criticism 1132) Through literature people find out the many ways women are taught to live in different countries and throughout time, it often seems to be the same routine for women no matter the country or time period.
In conclusion, through the lens of Gender theory and examination, this play not only portrays women in a degrading manner, but definitely makes the male characters overshadow the female characters. As shown through two female characters whose parts are both subordinate and very compliant. Both women act like they are suppose to and do not even the slightest but challenge the male characters. Both women by the end of the play have completely lost their identities and have conformed to what society made them into, nothing but a puppet controlled by men. Hamlet is a play that has a clear distinction between male and female roles.
Like these men, Lysistrata abuses and takes advantage of women, placing them in the position of submissiveness. Under the masculine figure of Lysistrata, common women are left powerless because of their gender. While Lysistrata is portrayed as the masculine figure and the anti-ideal woman, Lucretia in Livy’s The Rape of Lucretia is the polar opposite. Like the common women in Lysistrata, she is characterized as the ideal woman, dutiful to home and completely subservient to her husband. Prince Sextus Tarquinius, son of the tyrant Lucius Tarquinius the Proud, on the other hand, is the dominant masculine figure within this text.
The play Macbeth, amongst other works crafted by the renowned playwright William Shakespeare demonstrates the constant societal ideas about the strength of men versus the fragility and overall feebleness of women. From the lowest class of society, all the way to the ruler’s wife, these traits are seen as burdens and often banished in return for power and strength. The acquisition of these naturally masculine traits secure the characters’ abnormal status, ultimately leading to their demise due to their tampering with set gender roles. Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s strongest and most influential female figures. She accepts the patriarchal message that she is frail at the beginning of the play, and recognises her need to seek supernatural