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Women Struggling To Escape As A Theme In Cousin Kate , A Willing Mistress and 'The Merchant Of Venice'.

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Introduction

Linking literary heritage poetry with Shakespeare?s ?The Merchant of Venice? Introduction In this essay, I will focus on how Shakespeare presents women struggling to escape the bounds of the patriarchal society of Venice in the sixteenth century. Then, I will discuss how the poetry that I have studied in class presents women trying to escape. Finally, I will respond to the pieces of literature that I have read by comparing and contrasting them. How does Shakespeare presents women struggling to escape? If we focus on Portia (the lead female character in the play), we can see that Portia struggles to escape the patriarchal society by opposing the laws of filial piety. Filial piety is the philosophy that offsprings should always be obedient to their parents. In Act 1 Scene 2, (page 1) we see that Portia struggles to cope with the idea that she cannot choose her husband; she describes herself to be ?curbed? (which means restricted) by the will her late father had imposed on her. The evidence for her struggle against her father?s will can be seen in this quotation - ?The brain may devise laws for the blood/ but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree.? In a historical point of view, daughters in the sixteenth century were expected to treat their parents with absolute filial piety. However, Portia challenges the will her father had imposed on her, because she expresses the desire to choose her own husband. On the next page, when Nerissa describes the 4 suitors who had come to woo Portia, Portia claims that she would do anything to avoid marrying them, especially the ?young German?(. ...read more.

Middle

because they are captured by men?s show of love and care. The author uses the imagery of women being a dove in the fourth stanza: in line 32, the narrator says that Kate ?had the stronger wing?, which means that Kate struggled to escape the lord?s clutches and resisted the lord?s advances more than the narrator. The author shows women struggling to escape in the second, fourth and fifth stanza. As the narrator is a ?fallen woman?, she is financially insecure, and so she has to ?howl?. The verb ?howl? depicts how desperate the narrator is to escape her situation, but she remains ?in dust?, because she is a fallen woman. Also, in CK, the foundations of marriage is less based on love than on the greed of the male. This message is contradictory to the view the society had at that time. Victorians thought that marriage was the key for a stable society. However, the poem shows that marriage was a great burden for women at that time; Kate is expected to bear a child for the lord, but she is unable to and so she is sad. ?A married state? advises that the only way to escape the pains and sorrows of marriage is by turning ?apostate to love?s levity? (line 14). This quote expresses the fact that being unmarried is the ideal state for a woman, as evident by the quote ?A virgin state is crown?d with much content?. A connotation of the noun ?levity?(which means treatment of a serious matter with humour or lack of due respect) ...read more.

Conclusion

from them and then accusing of being disloyal, after the court scene where Bassanio and Gratiano pledge their wifes? life for Antonio?s - they treat their wife as a possession to give away. ?The Merchant of Venice? and the poems that I have read all is similar because they show women wanting to escape being inferior to men. However, ?The Willing Mistress? differs from the other literature I have read because it takes the reader from the reality of the era (men were superior than women in the 17th century) to an idyllic situation where men and women are equal. We know this because Amyntas first ?led? the mistress the the ?grove?, but then both characters participates in their love equally. The grove is symbolic of the future the author wants - the author desires that men and women would be equal in the future. From the literature that I have read in class, I have learned that inequality is wrong, because the victim of inequality could be hurt greatly. For example, in ?Cousin Kate?, because of gender inequality that operated at that time, the narrator is put into an unfair situation where she is financially insecure and emotionally hurt because she is an abandoned mistress with a child. The narrator is in this situation for no fault of hers, but because of the decision the ?lord? took. The lord does receive punishment for having sex with a person he is not married to (he is pardoned because he is a man), but the narrator is because she is a woman. This example proves that inequality is unnecessary, unjust and simply wrong. ...read more.

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