The Powerful Imogen of Cymbeline
Shakespeare’s Cymbeline developed a female protagonist who led the literary world as one of the original heroines. Centuries before women were recognized as capable and authoritative, a character is presented on stage who bears these qualities, thus representing the ideals of the future.
Shakespeare boldly displayed a woman warrior to a male-dominated society. Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, is indeed the central character of this play. She braves a rainstorm of obstacles to conquer and reveal the evil doings of the plays antagonists and to complete her heros journey. A nineteenth century actress who once played this leading role suggested that the play be retitled Imogen, Princess of Britain.1 One critic described Shakespeares Cymbeline as tragical- comical- historical- pastoral, for the play exhibits qualities of every category and draws upon every emotion. The story is set during a conflict between Britains King Cymbeline and Romes Octavious Caesar. Cymbelines matriarch is tainted by the evil queen and her arrogant Prince Cloten, who is predestined to marry Princess Imogen. However, Imogen can not bear the arrangement and therefore chooses to marry her Roman lover instead. Her imprisonment begins a series of ironic events that are so common in Shakespeare plays, such as when Imogen dresses as a man like in A Midsummer Nights Dream or when she drinks sedative poison like in Romeo and Juliet. Imogen concludes the play when she unveils all the hidden truths inside the palace, while Octavious Caesar withdraws his attack on Britain. Imogens words and actions engendered responses among every character who appeared in the play and detangled various conflicts in the Roy...
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...I Jane, a 1997 film in which female Jordan ONeil shaves off all her hair and demands to be treated as a man as she endures Navy SEAL training. Both Imogen and ONeil relied on their dignity of character while their physical identities were stripped from them. Several other important women in literature manifest assertive, noble, and doughty features, yet Imogen was first presented 1623, making her an original heroine.
Imogen’s fortitude could only lead the world when her character escaped its ink confinement and entered the hearts of women. Women’s rights movements and Sisterhood organizations stole the spirit from Shakespeare’s princess and used it to eradicate gender bias, thereby asserting female power and integrity. Thanks to their efforts, a woman’s role no longer exists in the backdrop or offstage, but rather, in the center of the performance.
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