The Role of Women in Shakespeare's Tragedies Essay

The Role of Women in Shakespeare's Tragedies Essay

Length: 1710 words (4.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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. Some women are stronger than others, and their effect on the play is different for each one. They often even surpass the male heroes. It’s almost unbelieveable, if we take into consideration the status of women, of course with its discrimination and cruel conditions, in Shakespeare’s days - sixteenth century Elizabethan England. But there could have been many reasons, why he gave his characters such qualities. It could have been the Queen Elizabeth I. on the throne, or a certain influence of his marriage with older woman. Some modern critics claim, he was a feminist, or on the contrary it is historically incorrect, because we shouldn’t forget that he wrote maily for a male entertainment. Particulary in his comedies we frequently see a woman take on the strongest character, while often in his tragedies he has a male play the isolated tragic hero.
It’s highly necessary to know the context to fully understand it. The women couldn't do much of anything but cook and clean for their husbands. They were also spoken to and commanded like they were common dogs. Also the women did not get to choose who they married. They were supposed to act like dolls. Their loyalty belonged first to their fathers and then to their husbands. This patriarchal structure has forced them to become repressed and helpless, not only in the eyes of men and society. Overall women were treated horrible compared to today's time. There’s evident inspiration and writer’s reaction.
Nevertheless, in the midst of this male-dominant society Shakespeare portrays women with strengths at least equal to those of men. Shakespeare's views on women clearly define his plays and how, by using the women as some of the most powerful and stage dominating characters, and he shows a remarkable gift for breaking down the barriers that held women captiv...

... middle of paper ... Lady Macbeth’s behavior certainly shows that women can be as ambitious and cruel as men. Whether because of the constraints of her society or because she is not fearless enough to kill, Lady Macbeth relies on deception and manipulation rather than violence to achieve her ends.
Beyond doubt, three witches, as supernatural characters in “Macbeth”, embody an unreasoning, instinctive evil. They represent Macbeth‘s evil ambitions and aspirations.

It is evident the women’s role in Shakespeare’s tragedy is unlike his comedy. In comedies the women are empowered, that means they are mostly strong, independent, and capable, despite the male-dominant society of Elizabethan England. But in fact, women who were gifted and imaginative were not given the chance to develop their skills to become better in their craft. are often depicted as meek, obedient, and vapid creatures who stand behind their husbands. Their biggest role is usually one as wife or sister, hardly ever straying to be different. And that reflects exactly on Shakespearean tragic female characters, along with all difficulties, struggle and despair.

Unfortunately, some of these characters survived not only in drama...

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Exceptional Individual in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare Essay examples

- William Shakespeare had many tragedies that he was well known for. What set Romeo and Juliet apart, there was not a clear individual who stood out, both characters gullible and in a since childlike. Juliet was in the crossroads of her life, she was changing from a girl to a young woman. Romeo is considered to be easily distracted, he is also known for his emotional outpouring. His immoral personal history with the murders and thoughtless actions causes us to realize in truth Romeo wasn't as innocent as his true love Juliet....   [tags: love, sexuality, the tragedies]

Powerful Essays
1416 words (4 pages)

Comparing Othello and Oedipus the King Essay

- Oedipus the King and Othello are both plays in which are known for their dramatic tragedies. Oedipus the King is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed in 429 BC. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, which was written in approximately 1603. These two plays do a profound job at making sure the audience understands the background of the main characters, however, there are minor characters who are just as important. Emilia, Othello’s wife, and Jocasta, Oedipus’s mother and wife, both aid in the understanding of the major characters throughout these plays....   [tags: Shakespeare, Sophocles, tragedies]

Powerful Essays
1121 words (3.2 pages)

Shakespeare: Empowering Women Essay

- 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)....   [tags: Comparative Literature]

Powerful Essays
2356 words (6.7 pages)

Essay on Shakespeare's Treatment of Women in Comedy and Tragedy

- Linda Bamber differentiates between Shakespeare’s treatment of women in comedy and tragedy. In tragedy his women are strong because they are coherent – ‘certainly none of the women in the tragedies worries or changes her mind about who she is’ – and the attacks which are made on them are the product of male resentment at this strength – ‘misogyny and sex nausea are born of failure and self doubt’ . The comic feminine on the other hand, is opposed not to men but to a reified ‘society’: ‘In comedy the feminine either rebels against the restraining social order or (more commonly) presides in alliance with the forces which challenge its hegemony: romantic love, physical nature, the love of pleas...   [tags: gender issues]

Powerful Essays
1130 words (3.2 pages)

The Excellence Of Women In Shakespearean Tragedy Essay

- Excellence, from the root excellent, is the achievement of something extremely good in life. These achievements can be of a literary nature, or a cosmic nature, however the excellence that pertains to the coming essay, is that which is found within the female characters of Shakespearean tragedies. Despite the patriarchal ways of life during Shakespeare's age, he constantly conveys the ladies of his plays with nothing short of "excellent ... beauty, wit, and virtue." [Doran 135] Doran's article "The Idea of Excellence In Shakespeare" is a detailed work, which engages itself in the wide scope of Shakespearean sonnets and all his theatrical work concerning excellence....   [tags: William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
1790 words (5.1 pages)

Essay about The Works of William Shakespeare

- The Works of William Shakespeare William Shakespeare is customary regarded to be the finest dramatist the world has ever seen and the greatest poet who has created his plays in the English language. Besides, Shakespeare has been the world’s most famous author. No other writer’s works have been published so many times or read so broadly in so many places. Shakespeare knew human nature as few other writers have. He could notice in a particular dramatic case the qualities that refer to all human beings....   [tags: William Shakespeare Writers Authors Essays]

Powerful Essays
1423 words (4.1 pages)

Hamlet by Williams Shakespeare: The Women Hidden in the Shadows Essay example

- ... 33-34). In act two, Hamlet begins to believe that Gertrude was an accomplice to Claudius because of her hasty marriage and lack of mourning, but that is not the case, rather she understands that she is the reason for his anger. “I doubt it is no other but the main, His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.” (II.ii.56-57). Hamlet, a male character once again, places her in the position of little importance, that of Claudius’ sidekick. In Act II, scene ii, the King and Queen are welcoming their guests, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern....   [tags: ophelia and gertrude, romance, misfortune]

Powerful Essays
1153 words (3.3 pages)

Traditional and Non-Traditional Renaissance Femininity in Shakespeare´s Plays

- “Much Ado About Nothing” is a romantic comedy (Hamilton, p. 49) written between 1598 and 1599 (The British Library) by William Shakespeare. The main plot of the play is concerned with the relationship between the young lovers Claudio and Hero, and the sub-plots, in descending order of significance are a) the relationship between Hero’s cousin Beatrice and Claudio’s friend Benedick; b) Don John’s plot against Claudio and c) the constables Dogberry and Verges, their arrest of Borachio and their discovery of Don John’s deception....   [tags: Rebellion, Women]

Powerful Essays
2468 words (7.1 pages)

Comparing the Dominant and Feminist Readings of Shakespeare's King Lear

- Comparing the Dominant and Feminist Readings of King Lear      Shakespeare's King Lear has been the source of much contention as to the way in which the text can be read. The play originally was written for the Jacobean audience of Shakespeare's time, but since then has taken on many other readings. These new readings are produced to comment on issues in the society in which it is explored. Readings encompass a wide range of ideas - from the Dominant reading, the manner in which Shakespeare's audience would have perceived the text, to feminist ideals....   [tags: Feminism Feminist Women Criticism]

Powerful Essays
1365 words (3.9 pages)

Essay about A Midsummer Night’s Dream - The Feminist Subtext

- The Feminist Subtext of A Midsummer Night's Dream   Shakespeare's works have persistently influenced humanity for the past four hundred years. Quotations from his plays are used in many other works of literature and some common phrases have even become integrated into the English language. Most high schoolers have been unsuccessful in avoidance of him and college students are rarely afforded the luxury of choice when it comes to studying the bard. Many aspects of Shakespeare's works have been researched but one of the most popular topics since the 1960s has been the portrayal of women in Shakespeare's tragedies, comedies, histories and sonnets....   [tags: Feminism Feminist Women Criticism]

Powerful Essays
1900 words (5.4 pages)