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Shakespeare's Treatment Of Women In His Plays

1414 words - 6 pages

Some critics and other readers of Shakespeare's plays argue that he treats women with disrespect. However, he actually treats them with a great amount of respect. Shakespeare has been criticized by many modern writers for his portrayal of women.

The critics and other readers of Shakespearean plays think that he treats women badly for a few reasons, one being that most of the women in his plays die a tragic death. One example is in the play, Julius Caesar. In this specific play, Portia who is Julius Caesar's wife kills herself by swallowing hot coals. Portia was highly respected in life, and in order to be highly respected in death, she felt that she had to show her bravery in an excruciatingly painful death. This shows that Shakespeare expected women to behave in a masculine way. Another example is in the play Romeo and Juliet. Juliet, who is one of the main characters, ends up killing herself because she found the love of her life, Romeo dead. Both Romeo and Juliet's deaths were very tragic. Romeo had found Juliet and thought she was dead so he ended up stabbing himself. Once Juliet woke up, she found him lying dead in a pool of his own blood. She was so devastated at the sight and thought that he was gone, so she too stabbed herself. This also gives some proof to the critics that Shakespeare made his women overly dependant on men, and again shows that he expected women to act similar to men.

Some critics viewed the women in Shakespeare's plays as shrews. For example in the play The Taming of the Shrews, Kate was viewed as a shrew because she grew up without a mother to guide her through her life as a child to a young adult. Shakespeare proves that he feels that Kate is a shrew because she is not being guided by her mother. In the play, MacBeth, critics also viewed women as shrews, including MacBeth.

Numerous critics view the women in Shakespeare's plays as strong, confident women. Women in Shakespearian plays have always had important roles. Whether they create the main conflicts and base of the plays, or bring up interesting proper 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. One woman who plays a very important role in Shakespeare's plays is Cleopatra, in Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra is the dominant force in the play. Cleopatra takes on masculine qualities such as being bold, `alternative masculinity' and manhood of stronger determination. She is also viewed as a perfectionist. During the play many critics notice that Cleopatra and Antony switch roles, by Cleopatra acting more masculine, and Antony acting more feminine. Antony becomes jealous of Cleopatra because sometimes she acts more masculine than he does. Cleopatra is not dependant on anyone. Some critics say that Shakespeare discriminated against women because of his actions. He did not allow women to have a role in his play, nor let them have any say...

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