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Violence To Women And Shakespeare Essay

1164 words - 5 pages

Some of Shakespeare's most violent plays were by far his most popular during his lifetime. Although modern audiences are often repulsed by its gore and brutality, "Titus Andronicus" was a huge success in Tudor England. And certainly it is no coincidence that Shakespeare often deviated from his sources to include more titillating details and include sensationalist melodrama into his psychological masterpieces. Hamlet's father is poisoned with a potion so potent that it immediately causes bubbling scabs on his body; King Duncan is lured to Macbeth's castle to be slaughtered in his bed, and so on.There is a possibility of feminist psychoanalytic interpretation of Shakespeare's works. In Shakespeare's tragedies there is a shared fiction on the part of the heroes about femininity and about their own vulnerability in relation to women. Particularly in the tragedies, the characters link masculinity with control, strength and success, and femininity with weakness, loss of control. The prospect of heterosexual union arouses emotional conflicts that give shape to the plot. From the point of view of Shakespeare's tragedies, women are regarded as extremely powerful and simultaneously extremely untrustworthy. They provoke fear in men, a fear that renders the men frail and fragile and they resort to violence so as to exhibit their physical strength and thus dominate women. The ultimate end of this domination is to restore the man's masculinity; because when a man perceives a woman with whom he is in any kind of close relationship as masculine, her masculinity breeds fear and the fear makes a man feel like a woman in the relationship.Macbeth and Lear: of woman bornIn "Macbeth" Shakespeare makes a fictional social order that is completely based on violent masculine domination and the suppression of the feminine side. Even more so than in Hamlet or King Lear, masculinity is a means to dominate and be successful. The world of Macbeth not only tries to eradicate the values of trust and hospitality perceived as feminine qualities but to annihilate femininity altogether.Even though Macbeth is in a way obsessed with procreation, there is no room for maternal values in his life, as if the elimination of these values would render him invulnerable. To be born of a woman is to be weak, dependent, and ultimately mortal. Macbeth's attempt to deny what Lear perceives, that we come to this world defenseless and dependent on the nurturance of a woman gradually empties his life of meaning.Macbeth's relentless pursuit of power masks his insecurities, his anxieties, and ultimately his impotence. Of all the tragic heroes he is the most isolated in his death, alienated from everything, having become what he most feared: the plaything of sinister feminine forces - the three witches.For Lear, rage as an expression of power acts as defense against this powerlessness. It is exactly the powerlessness that contributes to the dignity of Lear as a tragic hero. It does not however change...

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