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Shakespeare's dealing with women in his tragedies and comedies.

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SHAKESPEARE'S DEALING WITH WOMEN IN HIS TRAGEDIES AND COMEDIES Shakespeare creates heroines that have full characters, contrary to conventional writings that show women as sexual objects only. Shakespeare's women are not only presented as sexual objects; his heroines have all kinds of human qualities like innocence, seductiveness, ambition, commitment, obedience, frustration, etc. Whether playfully resolved in the comedies or brutally exposed in the tragedies, at some level, all Shakespeare's works symbolically explore the conflict between male and female, or control and emotion, within society and the individual self.1 Two important heroines of Shakespeare are Lady Macbeth and Rosalind, who are famous for transgressing the boundaries drawn for women at that time. However, while Lady Macbeth becomes the victim of a tragedy, Rosalind becomes the architect of a happy ending comedy, which arouses a suggestion that Shakespeare's tragedies are misogynist, whereas his comedies are feminist. Lady Macbeth is the wife of Macbeth, who kills King of Scotland in order to be the king with the temptation of Witches and his wife. The role of Lady Macbeth in this tragedy is nearly as important as Macbeth's role. He is presented as a transgressive woman, who rejects her gender and wants to be 'unsexed' in order to achieve her ambitions. ...read more.


Macbeth kills all those people because of their prophecies, that Banquo's children will become kings and Macduff will be a threat to him. Both the witches and Lady Macbeth are shown as the temptators, similar to the Christian teaching that Eve seduced Adam to commit the original sin. The death of Lady Macbeth reflects the victory of male-dominated society, which does not tolerate an unnatural woman challenging to their power and condemn it as a witch. In Shakespeare's patriarchal world, the ideal woman is seen as a passive docile and above all selfless creature...But behind the angel lurks the monster: the obverse of the male idealization of women is the male fear of femininity. The monster women is the woman who refuses to be selfless, acts on her own initiative, who has a story to tell--in short, a woman who rejects the submissive role patriarchy has reserved for her.10 Shakespeare creates this "monster" -Lady Macbeth- with his own hands, but he decides to kill her in the tragedy of Macbeth. Whereas, we see that he welcomes this "monster", Rosalind, in his comedy of As You Like It. First of all, he makes her the most dominant character in the play, among many male characters such as Orlando, Jacques or Touchstone. ...read more.


When Leontes threatens Paulina by saying "I'll ha' thee burnt" (2.3 146)18, she answers with a courage no man an show: "I care not. It is an heretic that makes the fire, Not she which burns in 't. I'll not call you tyrant; But this most cruel usage of your queen, Not able to produce more accusation Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savors Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you, Yea, scandalous to the world." (2.3 147-155)19 In this manner, we can see Paulina as a transgressive woman, who challenges the king regardless of her place determined by the male society. Although she is unsuccessful in the first part of the play, which is a tragedy, she becomes the chief advisor of Leontes in the second half of the play, which is a comedy. Being repentant of what he has done, Leontes obeys her this time, when she urges him not to remarry. Also the happy ending of the play, the resurrection of Hermione takes place in Paulina'a house, which shows the dominance of a strong female in the comedy part of the play. By looking at the three plays by Shakespeare, we can conclude that the unnatural and transgressive women always lose in tragedies, whereas they become successful and have a happy ending in comedies. Therefore, it is possible to say that Shakespeare's tragedies are misogynist and his comedies are feminist. ...read more.

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