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Thread: The Women of Shakespeare

  1. #1
    anomaly
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    The Women of Shakespeare

    This was the title of a thesis paper that I wrote in Gr 11 English Literature.
    I was given a poor grade because I came up with an original thesis and therefore could not quote another author saying exactly the same thing. I believe I came up with enough evidence from the plays themselves. The thesis is thus:

    Through the female characters of Shakespeare's plays, it can be seen that he felt a successful woman could integrate masculine and feminine characteristics to create a whole person.

    Starting examples:
    Portia as a strong, balanced woman
    Cleopatra as a strong imbalanced woman

    Discuss.

    Find proof or disproof for the thesis.
    Add other examples that prove or disprove the thesis.

  2. #2
    Pinky
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Well, if you take Lady Macbeth as an example, she displays very overt masculine qualities as well as great strength. In facrt she even says she's ashamed to 'wear a heart so white' in others words feeling no regret over her actions.
    The best quote to back this up imo is 'unsex me here'. Says it all really!

  3. #3
    anomaly
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinky View Post
    Well, if you take Lady Macbeth as an example, she displays very overt masculine qualities as well as great strength. In facrt she even says she's ashamed to 'wear a heart so white' in others words feeling no regret over her actions.
    The best quote to back this up imo is 'unsex me here'. Says it all really!
    excellent.

    Portia actually dresses as a man to face Shylock in trial. This happens in a number of Shakespeare's plays.

  4. #4
    Pinky
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    One of my fave Shakespeare characters has to be Beatrice in 'Much Ado'.
    She swears that she'll never marry or be any man's property, and gives Benedick more than a run for his money when it comes to witty retorts!
    The masked ball scene cracks me up every time.
    I suppose that wouldn't seem that masculine today, but would have been quite unusual in the 1600's.

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    anomaly
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinky View Post
    One of my fave Shakespeare characters has to be Beatrice in 'Much Ado'.
    She swears that she'll never marry or be any man's property, and gives Benedick more than a run for his money when it comes to witty retorts!
    The masked ball scene cracks me up every time.
    I suppose that wouldn't seem that masculine today, but would have been quite unusual in the 1600's.
    That indicates, to me, that she has a balance of masculine and feminine which lends to her success.

    Lady Macbeth goes too far in the opposite direction where she rejects her feminine side so completely that she would
    "have plucked her nipple from [her child's] boneless gums
    and dashed the brains out..."

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    Senior Member zinkyusa's Avatar
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by koan View Post
    This was the title of a thesis paper that I wrote in Gr 11 English Literature.
    I was given a poor grade because I came up with an original thesis and therefore could not quote another author saying exactly the same thing. I believe I came up with enough evidence from the plays themselves. The thesis is thus:

    Through the female characters of Shakespeare's plays, it can be seen that he felt a successful woman could integrate masculine and feminine characteristics to create a whole person.

    Starting examples:
    Portia as a strong, balanced woman
    Cleopatra as a strong imbalanced woman

    Discuss.

    Find proof or disproof for the thesis.
    Add other examples that prove or disprove the thesis.
    Great topic, I think he certainly felt women could sucessfully integrate masculine and feminie characteristics to create a whole person but often they didn't. To piggyback on pinky's comments about Lady Macbeth, here we have what amounts to a character utterly devoid of ethics. Though not entirely representative of Shakespeare's opinion of educated women, his treatment of Lady Macbeth may suggest that a woman's intellectual ability, when miss-used, has adverse effects on the individual and those surrounding her. This attribution of cunning intellect and calculated control do not represent a healthy integration IMO.
    You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.

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    anomaly
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by zinkyusa View Post
    Great topic, I think he certainly felt women could sucessfully integrate masculine and feminie characteristics to create a whole person but often they didn't. To piggyback on pinky's comments about Lady Macbeth, here we have what amounts to a character utterly devoid of ethics. Though not entirely representative of Shakespeare's opinion of educated women, his treatment of Lady Macbeth may suggest that a woman's intellectual ability, when miss-used, has adverse effects on the individual and those surrounding her. This attribution of cunning intellect and calculated control do not represent a healthy integration IMO.
    right. because she rejects her feminine instead of integrating it.

    The fate of the character in the story should coincide with the theory when looking at the balance of the characters masculine and feminine. In Lady Macbeth she went too far.

  8. #8
    Pinky
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Quote Originally Posted by koan View Post
    right. because she rejects her feminine instead of integrating it.

    The fate of the character in the story should coincide with the theory when looking at the balance of the characters masculine and feminine. In Lady Macbeth she went too far.
    In 'The Taming of the Shrew' you see a personality turnaround with the character of Katherine, who starts out bad tempered, obnoxious and bitter, and ends up extolling the virtues of married life!
    Mad, I tell ya!

    So, I guess you could say that she discovers and integrates her feminine side.

  9. #9
    anomaly
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

    Ophelia is condemned by Hamlet for being too soft. She embodied the feminine without the balance of any masculine whatsoever. She's actually a pretty pathetic, two dimensional character as far as Shakespeare goes. He puts her to her end quite rightly.

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    Senior Member zinkyusa's Avatar
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    Re: The Women of Shakespeare

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinky View Post
    In 'The Taming of the Shrew' you see a personality turnaround with the character of Katherine, who starts out bad tempered, obnoxious and bitter, and ends up extolling the virtues of married life!
    Mad, I tell ya!

    So, I guess you could say that she discovers and integrates her feminine side.
    or she comes around to what society expects of her..
    You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.

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