• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare present the role of women in the play "The Winter's Tale"

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare present the role of women in the play "The Winter's Tale"? Shakespeare presents women in the play in a number of guises, most of these promote women as the superior sex. For example he presents Hermione as essentially the heroine of the play. In the court she stands up to the mad tyrant that is Leontes in the face of almost certain death. She doesn't lose dignity in her defence and is willing to die to make sure her love can show him the error of his ways. Leontes is a man teetering on the edge, she says to him, "Sir, spare your threats," she shows herself a hero as she faces the king in a court that would certainly be biased and she doesn't lose her dignity at all. She is the only person to stand up the king, none of the lords make a stand as he is clearly mad and Camillo cowardly runs away. She is willing to become a martyr to her cause, she may have lost her son and daughter because of Leontes but she chooses to face him which shows her to be the bravest of the play. He also portrays women as persuasive and somewhat manipulative in the person of Paulina, who exerts huge control over Leontes as she gets him to swear, "never to marry until my free leave," she controls him enough that he allows her to choose a women for his wife. ...read more.


She also controls the king which means she essentially controls the country. Hermione's role is key, she played a hero's last stand during the trial where she became a martyr. She is a figurehead of the novel. The heroine of the play for the strength and bravery she has shown. Perdita's role is also key in the play, a number of events would have not occurred without her being there such as the uniting of the two kingdoms again. Shakespeare presents the role of women as contrasting with that of men, the role that women play are the heroes of the play, such as Hermione's last stand against Leontes, while Camillo has run off and taken a cowards way out to avoid death unlike Hermione. Men are portrayed as cowards and jealous tyrants, like Leontes' jealousy that came from no where, it has no logical reasoning whereas Perdita is perceived as having a lot of common sense, and it's this trait that stops her from being one dimensional. Polixines also portrays this illogical madness, for example the party where Perdita is host and he finds out his son's intentions to wed a commoner, he looses control. He says, "I'll have that beauty scratched with briers," Shakespeare is making out that men do things that make no sense while women think things through in their head. ...read more.


The role of women in the play is also a message, it is very pro women so it's a memorial to Elizabeth, the first female monarch, which means it's also very anti King James as it portrays the male kings as not as strong as women, it is comparing James to Elizabeth. It is an attack on the new monarchy which it appears Shakespeare dislikes. It shows women as political players which were unheard of in that time, Shakespeare is promoting women's rights which was very unusual in a time of female suppression, he expresses his view that women are equal to men, and in some ways superior. The men in the play are portrayed as people who don't think with their heads, and act as jealous tyrants, expressing that maybe James is jealous of Elizabeth's success. I also think that all the women in the play represent quality of Elizabeth's, Paulina's cunningness and intelligence, Hermione's bravery. In conclusion the role of women in "The Winter's Tale" is an important part of the book as it expresses some key ideas of Shakespeare's and the period. The role of women is however shown to be more important than that of males throughout the king and they outclass kings in their superiority. The play is however a political statement. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Winters Tale section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Winters Tale essays

  1. How does Shakespeare present relationships between men and women in The Winter's Tale, ...

    This contrast of marriages provides an interesting view for a modern audience, on the idea of soul mates. We do not see Hermione and Leontes in a private setting but in public they are quite formal where Paulina and Antigonus are not.

  2. In Death and The Maiden, Paulina's struggle is symbolic of the struggle of oppressed ...

    If only to do justice in one case, just one."(Act III, Scene I, pg 44) Here Dorfman is showing that Paulina no longer wants to be in order, she wants revenge for herself. He also shows that she no longer knows of the line between self justice and revenge.

  1. How are women represented in "The Winter's Tale"? How might a modern audience react ...

    This is a huge change from the traditional stereotype of women. The female would be expected to be the jealous, irrational and destructive, with lecherous tendencies. This was particularly prominent in the sixteenth century. Shakespeare's inclusion of Hermione's flirting with Polixenes portrays an appearance of lechery, but the message is that it was often a misconception.

  2. Explore the role of women in 'The Winters Tale'

    The sentence structure at the beginning of the speech is very complex. She uses long sentences, which suggests she has prepared what she is going to say during the trial. " Since what I am to say must be but that Which contradicts my accusation."

  1. Shakespeare's A Winters Tale Scene by Scene Analysis.

    On the other hand, the scene can be played to make Paulina incredibly threatening. Played this way, Leontes addresses her husband because he has no idea how to deal with a strong woman. Both the comic and threatening interpretations of Paulina's character are grounded in her gender.

  2. Discuss the roles and dramatic significance of the three main female characters in the ...

    When Camillo departs with Polixenes, Paulina takes up a similar position to him as trusted advisor to king Leontes. The fact that she is placed in this role again supports the belief that women play an important part in shaping events that unfold in the play.

  1. “A sad tale’s best for winter. What then is the value of the ...

    Where Leontes' are to convey his true jealousy, the shepherd's takes on an almost pantomimic form. The monologue is suggestive, "some behind door work", appealing to the sexual humour of the audience and the words are dialectic and endearing, "This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so."

  2. It has been said that in "The Winter's Tale" Shakespeare dramatises the contemporary struggle ...

    Antigonus "fears his wife" and therefore supports Paulina's argument "let her run but she'll not stumble". He adds weight to her argument, "Hang all the husbands/That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself/Hardly one subject" because as a woman in Jacobean society Paulina would not have been taken seriously.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work