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Feminism in Shakespeare

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Introduction

Feminism in Shakespeare Conventionally, feminism has little correlation with Shakespearean comedies; however, Claire McEachern attempts to address this topic with some degree of success in her article published in the Shakespeare Quarterly entitled "Fathering Herself: A Source Study of Shakespeare's Feminism". The author herself reveals the adversity face by feminists up against Shakespeare's male-dominated world by admitting, "Certainly, in considering "Shakespeare's feminism" (a debatable, and surely anachronistic, construction), the prospect of looking to Shakespeare's sources for the origins of any political understanding of the "woman's part" seems to offer little promise; behind the critical assertion that finds Shakespeare's portrayals of women remarkable lies the unarticulated suspicion of the rare if not unprecedented quality of his cultural voice". McEachern, while turning to the cultural voice of Renaissance patriarchy, fails to recognize the female community in Much Ado About Nothing within her study of feminism. In her 1988 article, Claire McEachern examines the issue of feminism by utilizing several of Shakespeare's works, including Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear. ...read more.

Middle

Raveled within Act Three Scene Four, Shakespeare allows the reader insight into an intimate world to which he does not normally unveil. This scene contains exclusively women, which in itself is a rarity for the patriarchal bard. Although this scene is not substantially long in text, it provides an introspective view of the female community in Much Ado About Nothing that is not exposed in any other scene. Act Three Scene Four allows the reader to view Shakespeare's feminism on strictly female grounds. The scene opens with Ursula and Margaret, Hero's attending gentlewomen, preparing Hero for her marriage to Claudio, a young Florentine lord. Hero and Margaret's initial conversation prior to Beatrice's entrance reveals Margaret's notable wittiness, as well as Hero's presence of opinion that is not observed in either two preceding acts. Hero expresses apprehension of her marriage to Claudio and its impending difficulties while dressing in her gown by admitting, "God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceedingly heavy" (3. ...read more.

Conclusion

That goes without a burden" (3. 4. 43 - 44), which refers back to her previous lewd comment to Hero. Despite Margaret and Beatrice's vulgar comments, Shakespeare instills this scene with a sense of affection between the women. It is void of male influence, and shows the compassionate relationship between the three women aside from Margaret and Beatrice's humor, and Hero's innocence. The fact that Hero summons Beatrice and her two attending gentlewomen on her wedding morning and expresses her doubts in confidence makes this scene particularly valuable. Shakespeare allows Hero an opportunity to reveal her inner most animosity to her beloved companions. In McEachern's conclusion she proposes, "Shakespeare defies his literary fathers as the women of his drama resist patriarchy, and his subversion of cultural authority empowers their own". Although this may be an accurate conclusion to draw, it limits the scope of feminism that can be uncovered in Much Ado About Nothing. The female community that Shakespeare creates must be examined closely, as well as the patriarchal world. McEachern creates a case for feminism that clearly does not address the entirety of Shakespeare's time. ...read more.

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