Female Identities in Shakespeare's Plays Analytical Essay by Jessie

Female Identities in Shakespeare's Plays
An analysis of the revolutionary way Shakespeare used his women to challenge embedded patriarchal norms in "Hamlet", "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Richard III".
# 153792 | 10,228 words | 23 sources | MLA | 2014 | US
Published on Jan 20, 2014 in Drama and Theater (English) , Literature (English) , Shakespeare (General)

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This paper discusses the historical background for the three plays which are the focus of this analysis; "Hamlet", "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Richard III". The paper analyzes the characters of Katharina, Ophelia, Lady Anne and Bianca, and examines the overarching social structures that defined feminine conduct. The paper then discusses the modern interpretation and presentation of these works onstage and in film. The final section of this paper concludes that Shakespeare's portrayal of women as flesh and blood characters with independent thoughts and negative reactions to male domination, struggles that might otherwise have been silenced and hidden by general society, made him ahead of his time.

Background Information on the Texts
Katharina, Ophelia and Anne in comparison with Bianca
Male Domination in Shakespearean Plays
Female Identities: Round or Flat Characters?
Modern Film and Theatre Interpretations
Shakespeare: Ahead of his time in the Portrayal of Women

From the Paper:

"The origin of Hamlet is shrouded in mystery due to the unconfirmed existence of a play written by Thomas Kyd. "Most critics have long been agreed that there was a pre-Shakespearean Hamlet, Prince of Denmark - presumably that noted by Henslove as played in 1594 - and that its author was Thomas Kyd" (Robertson 33). Supposedly, Kyd produced a play that recounted Prince Hamlet's orchestration of revenge upon his stepfather, the king. Kyd's manuscript is lost to history but, if it existed, its significance as a source for Shakespeare's work was profound. Alternatively, some scholars argue that what was believed to be Kyd's play was actually a previous version of Shakespeare's work that the playwright revised over time. Whether either explanation is true cannot be succinctly proven. In either case, however, it is clear that the final product today regarded as one of Shakespeare's greatest dramatic works was not entirely original, but instead based upon a revenge story repeated in many versions throughout in medieval written and oral literature.
"The inspiration for The Taming of the Shrew has not been attributed to any one definitive source. Rather, Shakespeare was likely inspired by several different folk tales sharing the common theme of the conquest of an independent wife by her domineering suitor/husband. "The title "The Taming of the Shrew," apart from Shakespeare's comedy, has been applied to many literary creations, subliterary pieces, and folktales in which a bad wife is improved" (Brunvard 345). Such folktales developed to offer a lesson to the audience: the shrews should be tamed by the men in their lives because woman was expected to submit to her father, husband and potentially even son later in life."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Albanese, Denise. "Black and White, and dread all over: the Shakespeare Theater's 'photonegative' Othello and the Body of Desdemona," in Callaghan, Dympna (ed.) A feminist companion to Shakespeare (226-250). Malden: Blackwell, 2001.
  • Bamber, Linda. Comic women, tragic men: A study of gender and genre in Shakespeare. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1982.
  • Brunvard, Jan Harold. "The folktale origin of The Taming of the Shrew," Shakespeare Quarterly 17(1966): 345-359.
  • Callaghan, Dympna. Shakespeare without women: representing gender and race on the Renaissance stage. London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Detmer-Goebel, Emily. "The need for Lavinia's voice: Titus Andronicus and the telling of rape," Shakespeare Studies Vol. 29 (2001): 75-92.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Female Identities in Shakespeare's Plays (2014, January 20) Retrieved March 05, 2024, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/female-identities-in-shakespeare-plays-153792/

MLA Format

"Female Identities in Shakespeare's Plays" 20 January 2014. Web. 05 March. 2024. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/female-identities-in-shakespeare-plays-153792/>