Her father loved me; oft invited me; Still question'd me the story of my life, From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, That I have passed. I ran it through, even from my boyish days, To the very moment that he bade me tell it; Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances, Of moving accidents by flood and field Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach, Of being taken by the insolent foe And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence And portance in my travels' history:
English Literature Books Shakespeare, it is claimed by many modern critics, was a feminist. Shapiro for example goes so far as to claim that Shakespeare was 'the noblest feminist of them all'.
Although I am inclined to agree with McLuskie that as Shakespeare 'wrote for a male entertainment', it is historically incorrect to regard him as a feminist.
I believe that Shakespeare because of his extraordinary genius for portraying human behaviour, necessarily depicted the condition of women within a patriarchal system and created women characters which in their richness, transcend the limitations of his time.
In this essay I will explore chiefly Shakespeare's treatment of the three heroine's Ophelia, Desdemona and Cleopatra, of the tragedies Hamlet, Othello and Antony and Cleopatra, beginning with an exploration of Shakespeare's representation of the effects of a patriarchal system upon the characters.
Ophelia, it would seem, wholly at the mercy of the male figures within her life, is certainly a victim figure. Although it has been claimed by critics that Hamlet is unique amongst Shakespeare's tragic heroes for not being to blame for the tragedy of the play, if we are to consider the death of the heroine as part of this tragedy then surely we must question Hamlet's innocence.
In his treatment of Ophelia, Hamlet oscillates between protests of undying love and cruelty such as his cold and accusing speech in the 'nunnery scene'. In short, Hamlet throughout the play uses Ophelia as a tool in his revenge plan. To examine this culpability more deeply however, it could be suggested that it is Queen Gertrude's behaviour that has instigated Hamlet's unforgivable treatment of Ophelia: She transgresses the patriarchal bounds of femininity by marrying so soon after her husband's death and not remaining in passive grief and obedient devotion to his memory.
This provides Hamlet with a model of women's inconstancy. His bitterness leads him to believe that all women are untrustworthy - 'Frailty thy name is woman' and as R. White puts it, Hamlet projects upon Ophelia the 'guilt and pollution' he believes exist in Gertrude's behaviour.
However we view his culpability, Ophelia suffers as a result of Hamlet's patriarchal values of womanhood. With regard to her father and brother, the two direct ruling male forces in her life, Ophelia is also very much a victim.
Unquestioningly obeying their remonstrances against pursuing a relationship with Hamlet, she rejects his advances - which of course she believes to be genuine - and thus when he pretends to be mad she believes it to be her fault.
Her speech reflects her deep and genuine sorrow: And I of ladies, most deject and wretched That sucked honey of his music vows O woe is me. Ophelia's feeling of guilt is reinforced by Polonius's insistence to King Claudius: But Yet I do believe The origin and commencement of this grief Sprung from neglected love Polonius's conviction, in which one can't help believing, stems from a mercenary desire to marry his daughter off to such an eligible husband as the prince of Denmark, rather than a genuine belief in his daughter's role in causing Hamlet's madness.
Thus when Hamlet murders her father, Ophelia enters a double realm of guilt, believing herself to be to blame for both Hamlet's madness and her father's death. As a result she becomes mad.
Although at one level this decline into madness sets Ophelia up indisputably as a victim figure, on a deeper level perhaps her madness itself can be seen as Ophelia's active rejection of patriarchal restraint. Charney Maurice suggests that since within Renaissance drama madwomen were 'more strongly defined than madmen', and women's madness was 'interpreted as something specifically feminine', through depictions of madness dramatists were able to give women a chance to express their selfhood - 'make a forceful assertion of their being' - in a way which patriarchal conventions would otherwise have prevented.
In the later tragedy, Othello, it can also be argued that the tragedy occurs from adherence to patriarchal rules and stereotypes. Gayle Greene summarises this position in her claim that the tragedy of Othello stems from 'men's misunderstandings of women and women's inability to protect themselves from society's conception of them'.
Certainly Desdemona's very much feminised qualities of passivity, softness and obedience are no match for Othello's masculine qualities of dominance, aggression and authority. After Othello in his jealousy has struck Desdemona and spoken harshly to her, she tells Iago, 'I am a child to chiding'.
Protected by a system which makes women the weaker, dependent sex, Desdemona is unequipped to deal with such aggression; she is helpless against Othello.
As Dreher puts it 'following conventional patterns of behaviour for wives and daughters, these women lose their autonomy and intimacy and do not achieve adulthood'. Desdemona thus retreats into childlike behaviour to escape from reality. With regard to men's misunderstandings of women, Greene points out that Iago's manipulation of Othello - the cause of the tragedy - occurs only because of 'the views of women the moor already possessed'.
This is certainly a convincing argument, for Othello all-too-easily accepts a stereotypical view of his wife based on the authority of a male voice. He loses sight of the real Desdemona, allowing every action of hers, once his suspicion is stimulated, to reaffirm this stereotypical conception of her.Othello Questions and Answers - Discover the ashio-midori.com community of teachers, mentors and students just like you that can answer any question you might have on Othello.
Othello (/ oʊ ˈ θ ɛ l oʊ /) is a character in Shakespeare's Othello (c. –). The character's origin is traced to the tale "Un Capitano Moro" in Gli Hecatommithi by Giovanni Battista Giraldi ashio-midori.com, he is simply referred to as the Moor.
Othello is a brave and competent soldier of advanced years and Moorish background in the service of the Venetian Republic. Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for Othello by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics.
All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in the text and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. Genre William Shakespeare's stage play Othello, Moor of Venice (or simply Othello) is a tragedy in which a good man falls to ruin and death after an evil man inflames him with jealousy.
Dates of Composition and First Performance. Shakespeare's Othello - Othello and Desdemona - Othello and Desdemona In the play, The Tragedy of Othello, Shakespeare really tests our conception as to what love is, and where it can or can't exist. Shakespeare and Race: Othello's Relationship with Desdemona.
From Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear by Alexander W. Crawford.
Boston R.G. Badger, It is at this point that the second of the great problems of the play emerges.