Shakespeare: Empowering Women Essay

Shakespeare: Empowering Women Essay

Length: 2356 words (6.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In the midst of a male-dominant society - sixteenth century Elizabethan England - Shakespeare portrays women with strengths at least equal to those of men. By so doing, he opens the door for them politically as well as socially, well in advance of any legal rights being granted to women. It has been argued that Shakespeare's views of women can be logically traced to the characters he has created (Kolin 11). He "came as close to exposition of a system of practical values as he could, without creating characters to serve as mouthpieces for his own ideas" (Greer 39). If this is true, he had very modern views of women, men, and equality, believing that women are equal to men. Germaine Greer confirms this with, "Shakespeare views marriage as a partnership between equals, sexually vibrant, committed, constant, and practical" (39).

In his Comedies, Shakespeare empowers women over men in two distinct ways. First of all, focusing on the idea that they are the agents in Elizabethan society of happiness and order (Pitt 48), he allows for major female roles. Perhaps he felt, too, that some day women would be able to play their own roles on the stage instead of having them played by boys. He wanted them to have equal, and sometimes more prominent parts than men on stage, with hopes that this equality would filter into society. This is true, especially in the Comedies, where women naturally fit in because of their role in society to `be happy'. Another way that Shakespeare gives women power is with the theme of disguise. As female characters don disguises of men, they often assume a more powerful disposition. It is true that when a person dresses a certain way, he or she is likely to act accordingly. Law enforcement officers...

... middle of paper ...

...hem equality with men.

Works Cited

Draper, R.P. Shakespeare: The Comedies. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Greer, Germaine. "Shakespeare's Comedies Show Women as Equal Partners with Men."

Readings on The Comedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 39-45.

Howard, Jean E. "Cross-Dressing in As You Like It." As You Like It. Ed. Albert

Gilman. New York: Penguin Books

Kolin, Philip C. Shakespeare and Feminist Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography and

Commentary. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1991.

Pitt, Angela. "Strong Women Prevail in Shakespeare's Comedies." Readings on The

Comedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 46-53.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Ed. Albert Gilman. New York: Penguin Books

---.Twelfth Night. Ed. Sidney Lamb. Lincoln: Cliffs Notes, 1965

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Shakespeare Breaks the Way for Feminism Essay

- “Gender hardly determines the nature of a character, in the plays of Shakespeare. It is for this very reason, that his plays are read, viewed and enjoyed by both the sexes equally, even after five hundred years of their composition” (Singh). Gender is not something that defines what a character is going to be like in Shakespeare’s plays. This quote illuminates that in Shakespeare’s writings females and males were on equal level playing fields when it came to their traits. Females during the time period were considered inferior to men....   [tags: ophelia, hamlet, gender]

Powerful Essays
1651 words (4.7 pages)

Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women Essay

- Introduction As a child, I had always believed that there was only one difference between girls or boys, one of them has cooties, besides that I had always thought of them as equals. As I grew out of that young and venerable age, I slowly started to realize that even in first world countries, women were being oppressed. They weren’t seen as equals, simply because of their gender, not because of experience or knowledge, just because they are women. If it took me that long to find out how sexist, a developed country is how long will it take everyone....   [tags: Canadian Women's Foundation]

Powerful Essays
953 words (2.7 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Taming Of The Shrew Essay

- William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, takes an interesting approach to the role of women through his character Katherine. She is a wild and rebellious woman for her time, the complete opposite of the prefect elizabethan housewife. To most men she is undesirable while her sister, the perfect representation of a woman, was wanted by more men than she could ever indulge. Katherine is not the typical elizabethan woman, instead, she is the woman that the other married women in the play strive to be....   [tags: Marriage, Woman, The Taming of the Shrew, Gender]

Powerful Essays
1662 words (4.7 pages)

Capturing The Moment : Empowering Women Essay

- Seizing the Moment: Empowering Women to Become Leaders Introduction It is now 2016 and the majority of Americans would agree that women are every bit as capable of being good leaders as men. Many would even go as far as saying that women are better suited for leadership roles due to their ability to build nurturing relationships while inspiring and motivating others. To group all women into this category however, would only be fueling the idea that a gender discrepancy does exist when discussing the ability for women to maintain leadership roles both in a political and business arena....   [tags: Leadership, Management, Servant leadership]

Powerful Essays
1166 words (3.3 pages)

Empowering The Women Of Canada Essay example

- Empowering the Women of Canada Historically minorities in government, such as women, do not get proportionally represented. Women have fought for their right to vote since the late 1860s and still fight to be represented in parliament today. In Canada women approximately represent 50% percent of the population yet they only represent about 25% of parliament (Inter-Parliament Union, 2015). They have fought for the right to have a say in the government, and they should be represented by female members with the same ideologies as them....   [tags: Gender, Woman, Female, Feminism]

Powerful Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)

Characterization of Women as Empowering Figures in The Country Wife and Pygmalion

- In The Country Wife, women are treated as mere objects and are viewed by the men of the play as being inferior. Sparkish views Alethea as an object that should be flaunted around and is only interested in marrying her for her wealth. Sparkish revels in the idea that he be envied for his wife because he believes that allowing more men to love her and envy him for owning her will increase her worth. In viewing her as something that gains value, Sparkish likens her to a treasure at an auction, whose value goes up as the number of bidders rises....   [tags: social issues, women's rights]

Powerful Essays
1697 words (4.8 pages)

The Role of Women in Shakespeare's Tragedies Essay

- The Role of Women in Shakespeare's Tragedies In Shakespeare’s tragedies and his plays in general, we can come across several types of female characters. Their influence with other characters and their purpose or role, often underestimated like women themselves, will be this essay’s main subject. Women in Shakespearean plays have always had important roles, sometimes even the leading role. Whether they create the main conflicts and base of the plays, or bring up interesting moral and cultural questions, they have always been put in challenging situations....   [tags: Tragedy Plays Shakespeare Women Essays]

Powerful Essays
1710 words (4.9 pages)

Women in Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 Essay

- Women in Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 Shakespeare is expressing, though not in the first person, that he knows women are not the perfect beauties they are portrayed to be and that we should love them anyway. He uses two types of descriptions, one of their physical beauty and the other of their characteristics to make fun of all those ‘romantic’ poets trying to ‘brown nose’ the girls they like. One of the physical attributes, in the first quatrain, that he mentions is his “mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” meaning she has no ‘twinkle’ in her eyes....   [tags: Sonnet 130 Shakespeare Women Essays]

Powerful Essays
459 words (1.3 pages)

Portrayal of Women in William Shakespeare's Plays Essay

- William Shakespeare's characterization of women varies immensely from one comedy to another. In his works, Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado About Nothing, he portrays both dominant and submissive women. Ultimately, Shakespeare examines the complexity of women by displaying the vast array of attitudes, emotions, and their treatment and reaction to men as well as refuting the typical subservient wife role. In Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the difficulties of marriage and submission take center stage....   [tags: Female Women Shakespeare Essays]

Powerful Essays
3553 words (10.2 pages)

Women in William Shakespeare’s Plays Essay

-        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 t...   [tags: Women in Shakespeare’s Plays]

Powerful Essays
2371 words (6.8 pages)