Feminism In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night was written near the end of Queen Elizabeth 's reign in England. The notion of a strong female, such as Elizabeth, choosing to lead a country without the help of a man began to provoke people to consider what truly a woman’s role was (Callaghan, 86). For the most part, up until this time literature strongly focused on powerful male leads that expressed dominance and intelligence greatly surpassing the minor female characters in literature (Callaghan, 32). Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night strongly questions whether men are superior to women or society has simply forced women into the background, ignoring women 's ability to rival men 's talents and rationale. Feminism in Twelfth Night detects negative attitudes towards women of the …show more content…
Like most third wave feminist, Marie sees herself as every bit of intelligent and powerful as those around her. She doesn’t even think twice about her outward appearance before declared her wit and scheming up a plan to get what she wants most, revenge on Malvolio. She has no fear of taking matters into her own hand, and her confidence in her own capability allows her to casually flirt with the dangers of her plan being found out. She may technically be of a slightly lower class than Malvolio, but class means little to her if she feels that she is being improperly treated . Maria is the paragon of wit and guile in this play. She greatly surpasses her male counterpart of Malvolio with her ability to employ strategic events that will cause Malvolio to spiral down a path of supposed madness. Malvolio is the one that falls prey to these pranks and can be seen as gullible, emotional, and blinded by his own fantasy. Whereas Maria is seen as intelligent, forward thinking, and proactive toward what she wants. These two roles are typically switched in how men and women are perceived. Once again this play challenges the traditional characteristics and differences attributed to men and women. She is also one of the cleverest characters. On her feet she can think of a joke to put any man to shame such as her response to Sir Andrew, “Av, sir, I have them at my fingers ' ends: marry, now I let go your hand, I am barren. …show more content…
When looking at this play from the view point of a third wave feminist, the female leads appear to celebrate the different capabilities and unique characteristics of women. Olivia is a wealthy women that prefers to pass her time at home, while waiting for the perfect knight in shining armor to come along and steal her heart. Viola is the working woman that seeks to find success and stability in gaining her status through hard work and good connections. Maria is the social rebel that is satisfied with her current status, but enjoys making it known that she has a wit she feels is superior to the men that surround her. All of these women are unique, but are strong characters in this play. Third wave feminism breaks stereotypes and allows women to form their own identity through their passions, abilities, and distinctive

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