Within many Shakespearian plays, roles of women often focus on their intelligence, strength, and perseverance. This may indicate Shakespeare’s understanding that women should be treated equal to men and receive equal opportunities like that of men and pose the possibility of Shakespeare himself being a feminist. However, this possibility can be misperceived, for at the end of the play, the strong, independent woman usually settles back into society with her husband and submitting herself to the patriarchy. Within the play The Merchant of Venice, the female characters accomplish amazing feats to fix the messes that their husbands had made and achieve their own goals. In doing so, they control the fates of all characters. However, at the end, they return to their subordinate positions as wives, as if nothing had actually happened. Portia, Nerissa and Jessica were able to look into the ideals of feminism whilst disguised in men’s clothing and go unnoticed by men around them. In later scenes, when Portia and Nerissa push the boundaries of thei...
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...mes of radical feminism during a time of a male-dominated society. Radical feminism is evident through Portia, Nerissa, and Jessica’s alterations of gender and appearance to hide amongst men and go unnoticed. Although Shakespeare may not have intentionally written The Merchant of Venice with radical feminism in mind, but it defies patriarchal views of women’s expectations and capabilities of the time. Moreover, Director Michael O’Neill heightened the theme of radical feminism by incorporating the use of gender-blind casting, casting women in men roles; this is symbolic of the cross-dressings of Portia, Jessica, and Nerissa in the play. Thus, the Williams Center for the Arts production of The Merchant of Venice brought forth new dimensions to the classic Shakespeare play, and transformed it into a clear (but maybe not intentional) form and example of radical feminism.
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