Female Characters in Shakespeare's Plays Othello and Hamlet
Author: Sara Ekici
Publisher: GRIN Verlag
Category: Feminism and literature
Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,0, University of Kassel (Fachbereich fur Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften), course: Schakespeare, language: English, abstract: Female characters play an important role for the dramatic run of events in Shakespeare's plays. Just as in reality, women of Shakespeare's dramas have been bound to rules and conventions of the patriarchal Elizabethan era. Therefore, it was very common back in Elizabethan England to compel woman into marriages in order to receive power, legacy, dowry or land in exchange. Even though the Queen herself was an unmarried woman, the roles of woman in society were extremely restricted. Single women have been the property of their fathers and handed over to their future husbands through marriage. In Elizabethan time, women were considered as the weaker sex and dangerous, because their sexuality was supposedly mystic and therefore feared by men. Women of that era were supposed to represent virtues like obedience, silence, sexual chastity, piety, humility, constancy, and patience. All these virtues, of course, have their meaning in relationship to men. The role allocation in Elizabethan society was strictly regulated; men were the breadwinners and woman had to be obedient housewives and mothers. However, within this deprived, tight and organized scope, women have been represented in most diverse ways in Shakespearean Drama. The construction of female characters in Shakespeare's plays reflects the Elizabethan image of woman in general. For all that, Shakespeare supports the English Renaissance stereotypes of genders, their roles and responsibilities in society, he also puts their representations into question, challenges, and also revises them."
Easy to use in the classroom or as a tool for revision, Oxford Literature Companions provide student-friendly analysis of a range of popular A Level set texts. Each book offers a lively, engaging approach to the text, covering characterisation and role, genre, context, language, themes, structure, performance and critical views, whilst also providing a range of varied and in-depth activities to deepen understanding and encourage close work wtih the text. Each book also includes a comprehensive Skills and Practice section, which provides detailed advice on assessment and a bank of exam-style questions and annotated sample student answers. This guide covers Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
"This thesis titled "The Female Hamlet" aims to explore the role of the character Hamlet as played by several particular women on stage. The main critical purpose will be to explain how the perception of the character of Hamlet has changed over the centuries, how these female Hamlets were involved in the changing role, and finally the issues of gender raised by their performances. This thesis will focus on five actresses who performed as Hamlet, Sarah Siddons, Jane Powell, Charlotte Cushman, Sarah Bernhardt, and Asta Nielsen. Throughout this work, historical constructions of gender will always be at issue and it will be essential to continually make clear what the public's perception was of what women could and could not do during different time periods. These women's part in evolving the role of Hamlet will include such details as their rehearsals, performances, dress, critical reception, and how the role may have compromised their careers. The latter portion of this thesis will focus on implications of Hamlet's femininity in scholarship, how a travesti performance of Hamlet can speak to gender expectations, and lastly whether Hamlet is a universal character. Again, the main purpose will be to show that the character changed, describe how these women were involved, and explain how this constructs issues of gender expectations. I conclude the work declaring that Hamlet is every man, and every woman too. Thus, there should be nothing more natural than a woman taking up the role as well. As the writer and critic William Hazlitt proclaimed, "It is we who are Hamlet."
Inhaltsangabe:Abstract: Was Shakespeare a misogynist ? Or was he, on the contrary, an early advocate of female equality ? Were his plays manifests of patriarchy, of the dominance of men over women and of typical stereotypes ? Or were they, like other critics have argued, just the opposite? Was he a "feminist in sympathy", as Juliet Dusinberre has argued, or was he the patriarchal bard many others see in him ? In how far were his views about the sexes influenced by the conceptions of gender in the Elizabethan time - and did he support, question or even reject them ? These were the questions I had in mind when I started working on this thesis paper. After dealing with both Shakespeare and feminism in the course of my studies, an evaluation of Shakespeare's attitude towards women seemed very interesting. The attraction that Shakespeare combined with feminism has, and the necessity of such criticism, has often been discussed. The following quote is rather long, but perfectly expresses my own interest in the topic. "Feminist critics of Shakespeare must use the strategies and insights of this new criticism selectively, for they examine a male dramatist of extraordinary range writing in a remote period when women's position was in obvious ways more restricted and less disputed than our own. Acknowledging this, feminist critics also recognize that the greatest artists do not necessarily duplicate in their art the orthodoxies of their culture; they may exploit them to create character or intensify conflict; they may struggle with, criticise or transcend them. Shakespeare, it would seem, encompasses more and preaches less than most authors; hence the centuries-old controversy over his religious affiliation, political views, and sexual preferences. His attitudes towards women are equally complex and demand attention." The fact that all major female characters have to die in Hamlet as well as in Othello is what first brought me to assess these two plays. I believe that even without an in-depth analysis of the plays the excessive murdering of women shows that Shakespeare's attitude towards them is in some way troubled. I was worried that this would be too trivial a starting point, but other critics have had the same idea: "And, as has been noted, the women in the tragedies almost invariably are destroyed, or are absent from the new order consolidated at the conclusions." The more I dealt with this vast topic, however, the more complicated it became. The [...]
In the three decades since her revolutionary and seminal article "The Character of Hamlet's Mother," Carolyn Heilbrun has been a prophet in the field of women and literature, gender and culture. This collection of graceful and uncompromising essays charts her development as a feminist writer and critic, which has culminated in such groundbreaking works as REINVENTING WOMANHOOD and WRITING A WOMAN'S LIFE. Shakespeare's Gertrude was first among many literary figures illuminated by Heilbrun's feminist sensibility. Others include Homer's Penelope -- an archetypal single parent, weaving herself a new life for which she was given no script; Jo in LITTLE WOMEN, a model of autonomy for generations of female readers; Elizabeth Bennet, remarkable for the promise of friendship in her marriage with Darcy; and Harrriet Vane, outrageously unique on many counts. The consistency and clarity of Heilbrun's vision in matched only by its heterogeneity, as she discusses Margaret Mead and Freud's daughters, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, resistance to feminist studies in academia, mothers and daughters, fiction and myth, tomboys and surrogate sons, and the detective story, of which Heibrun herself (as Amanda Cross) is one of the ablest practitioners. HAMLET'S MOTHER AND OTHER WOMEN will spark recognition, again and again, in readers on their own quest for female redefinition. "[A] witty, learned collection of essays . . . filled with delicate, sometimes startling gems of perception . . . . Provocative." -- New York Newsday
An A-Z of over 350 entries which explores the role of women within Shakespearean drama, how women were represented on the Shakespearean stage, And The role of women in Shakespeare's personal and professional lives.
Essay from the year 2021 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: A, , language: English, abstract: The essay deals with Shakespeare’s female characters in “Hamlet” and “As you like it”, raised above society’s conceptions of the female gender. Shakespeare’s writings are highly observant and contain social and historical representations as well as observations about the human condition. His characters show depth and their personalities undergo changes and reach resolutions according to both societal norms of the time but also to the genre of the play. Gender relations were a significant aspect of his writing especially regarding to the time when Shakespeare was writing when women were the property, first of their father and then of their husband according to the law. Their marriages were business transactions with the woman being exchanged for a higher position in society by entering a family of high social status or even to secure survival if the woman’s family was poor. For the transaction to be successful the woman had to be a virgin, of proven chastity, otherwise she was considered to be unwanted for marriage. This related highly to matters of succession since it was the only that the fatherhood of the husband was certain. In this society, where men dominated every aspect of life women were not permitted to reveal their true self and potential instead they were constantly oppressed and obliged to obey men.
Analysis of the Role of the Women in Selected Plays with Plot Synopses and Selected One Act Plays
Author: Courtni Crump Wright
Publisher: University Press of America
This book analyzes, through easy-to-follow play synopses, the strengths and weaknesses of the female protagonists as they impact not only the plot of Shakespeare's plays but the male protagonist. Selected, condensed one-act versions of the plays are provided in order to enrich the discussion of the play, to stimulate in reading the play in its entirety, and to provide a springboard for group discussion of the play and the impact of the women. Contents: William Shakespeare: His Art, Life and Times; The Women of Shakespeare's Plays: An Overview; The Comedy of Errors; Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; The Merry Wives of Windsor; Julius Caesar; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Macbeth; Much Ado About Nothing; Othello the Moor of Venice; The Taming of the Shrew; Antony and Cleopatra; Twelfth Night or What You Will; Romeo and Juliet; The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Bibliography.
Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,0, University of Wuppertal, course: Shakespeare's Late Tragedies, 15 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Why should one choose to examine the female characters of three of the most prominent Shakespeare plays although men are the protagonists in all of them ? Maybe because one may find certain parallels in the construction of woman characters in these Shakespeare plays which reflect the Elizabethan image of women in general. Maybe because Desdemona, Ophelia and Lady Macbeth are rather tragic figures with a developed character. All main female characters seem to have the same tragic element attached to them - namely their early unnatural death. Potter sees this early death as an erotic quality which seems to be inherent in all of Shakespeare's female characters1. All women seem to have loaded guilt upon them prior to their death. Lady Macbeth is guilty of at least helping in carrying out a murder. Gertrude is guilty of remarrying so quickly after her husband's death. But finding guilt in Desdemona and Ophelia seems rather hard to manage. Desdemona is found guilty by her husband but the audience knows she is not, while Ophelia may be found guilty by the reader to have betrayed Hamlet by not requiting his love. Apart from guilt obedience seems to play a major role in the context of the female characters. Othello wants his wife to be obedient and fears she is not - independent of whether he is present or not - but when he is present he uses force to make her obedient. Ophelia is also very obedient to her brother and her father, which constitutes the falsehood of her character and may thus play a major role in Hamlet's development. Gertrude is obedient to her husband the way a wife is supposed to be obedient. She does not have to be reminded and just blindly follows her husband in her words and deeds until the end of the play. Lady Macbeth