Date of Original Version

1995

Type

Article

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Description

Shakespeare's attitudes towards and portrayals of women have long been discussed and analyzed in many contexts, and often it seems as though sweeping generalizations are made about how he felt towards women. Based on such plays as Macbeth, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and some characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream, one might be able to conclude that Shakespeare generally did not view women as moral equals to men, and only that he viewed them as weak, manipulative, deceptive, submissive, or downright cruel. Also, in recent years, the women's movement has badmouthed his plays, claiming that even if the women he portrays are good and virtuous, they are always weak and under the control of men (such as Hamlet's Ophelia). However, statements like that become dangerous when his plays are looked at in a broader scope and when one is reminded of the time period that he wrote in. In fact, some plays actually (though somewhat subtly) end up having women as the most heroic persons in the play. And although these women do not rebel against wrongdoings in a militant and warlike fashion (as perhaps their male counterparts would), they successfully maintain their beliefs, convictions, and strengths in a quieter, but no less effectual, way.

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Published In

The Sloping Halls Review, 2.