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The Excellence Of Women In Shakespearean Tragedy

1830 words - 7 pages

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. Doran says very frankly that due to Shakespeare?s representation of women, through his plays, it is very clear that he prides himself with excellence in general. Although Doran brings to our attention the importance, and possible disaster, of over emphasizing glorious attributes, the act of which is known as a hyperbole [134], Shakespearean females, even when denied fancy dialect and metaphors, still are able to expose their virtues of loyalty, honestly, love, and patience in most everything they do. Doran begins his detailed account of specific females with none other than Cordelia, but due to further argument I will pass over his analysis of Lear?s daughter and continue with his depiction of Desdemona. Doran introduces Desdemona by stating, ?[her] virtues are ? independence, honesty, loyalty, and great generosity.? [147] Within a standard reading of Othello these characteristic are by no means shadowed, they are vividly portrayed in most, if not all, of her actions. Her independence is conveyed by her decision to marry Othello without the good grace of her father, in essence she knows what she wants and how to get it. Her honesty is seen within her dying testament. Her loyalty is portrayed by her love for Othello and the truth of not dismissing her marriage. Finally her generosity is easily comprehended after one is witness to her attempt to help Cassio after her husband stripped him of his rank. These virtues are long lived within Desdemona, and it does not take a Shakespearean critic to notice them. Doran continues his account of Desdemona by introducing Cassio as a believer of her virtuous personality. Cassio compares Desdemona to a divine member as he awaits her first steps off the ship, onto Cyprus, that she has arrived upon. While Cassio has no problem with comparing such a woman to God, Doran states that ?she is not quite so perfect as to be beyond compare, of course, or we could not believe in her as a human.? [148] With this statement, Doran?s point of view suddenly becomes more focused upon the use of hyperbole and the possibly disaster that it may cause. When asked about her handkerchief, Desdemona?s blind ignorance to the situation at hand, allows Othello to develop accusatory thoughts about the loyalty of his wife. However it is Desdemona?s...

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