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the portrayal of women in lysistrata

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Introduction

The portrayal of women in Lysistrata In the Greek comedy "Lysistrata" by Aristophanes, women fulfill a role, both in their respective families, as well as in society, which stereotypes them as promiscuous, frivolous and cunningly manipulative. Men discard women's sense of individuality and women, through their "flimsy" thoughts and actions, complied with their expectations. However, it is the fact that the have no opinion or voice over what happened to their city and families what pushed them away from their seemingly superficial nature and encouraged them to change into powerful, confident and outspoken individuals. "Lysistrata" starts with a scene exemplifying one of the major flaws of women: their love for parties and sex. The protagonist is standing in the very first scene in front of the entrance of the Athenian Acropolis, waiting for the women to attend the meeting. Then she complains that "if it had been a Bacchic celebration they'd been asked to attend (...) you wouldn't have been able to move for all the drums."(Aristophanes, p.180) A Bacchic celebration praises sex through orgies where women filled the streets of the polis. This statement hints from the very beginning that women were eager and open towards sexual intercourse to the point of mild promiscuity. ...read more.

Middle

This is men's weakness and, conversely, it is also women's strength. However, sex abstinence faces some skepticism from the very beginning because it goes against the women's nature and the role they are expected to fulfill: "The women? What could they do that was of any use? Sitting at home putting on cosmetics and saffron gowns and Cimberian see-through shifts, with slippers on our feet."-says Calonice ( page 181). They give the impression of believing they are of no use other than staying at home and looking pretty, like an accessory to their husbands. This only gives us further evidence of the stereotype women have accepted to the point where they underestimate themselves, following society's expectations. Women's capacities are, however, taken for granted. They were not indifferent to matters of the polis shown when they did not approve of their husbands decision to go to war unnecessarily. Women, fearing their husbands' reaction, did not communicate their opinions, perpetuating the situation. Lysistrata presents the turning point of this situation, tired of being underestimated: "In the last war we were too modest to object anything you men did- and in any case you wouldn't let us say a word. But don't think we approved! ... what did my husband always say- "Shut up and mind your own business"- And I did." (p. ...read more.

Conclusion

From the male perspective, the war is paramount; this is the way their society has to work, as it has worked countless times in the past. Conversely, women show they are able to go against the fear of divorce they had when they first heard the plan. They are now sure of their effect on men and how much they actually rely on them. This gives them the much needed confidence to carry on with their strike. This way, we acknowledge women together could invert the roles in society; it is them who now have the responsibility and, most importantly, it is them who now have the power to change the city and the empire. In conclusion, our perception of women, in both their characters and roles in society, has drastically changed throughout the play. They have proved to be capable of cunningly pursuing peace and enforcing it with the most important and effective control they have over men: sex. They have shown that their opinion and vote are also valid. They resolve conflicts with intelligence and diplomacy, avoiding war at all costs because they are aware of the great suffering this brings to their people and themselves. Most importantly, we see that, even though it is Aristophanes' intention to generalize and ridicule women's attitudes, they show to have strong personalities, which, joined together as one unstoppable force, enabled them to succeed in their pursuit for peace. Marielle Alvino ...read more.

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