Essay on Gender Stereotypes in the Merchant of Venice

868 Words Mar 2nd, 2013 4 Pages
Themes in the Merchant of Venice
Gender stereotypes are not a modern notion and as such expectations and limitations have always existed for both men and women. Fortunately women, who have formerly beared great burdens of discrimination, now have very liberated roles in society as a result of slowly shifting attitudes and values. Shakespeare was integral in challenging the subservient role expected of women in the 16th century. Throughout the play, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, women are expressed as powerful characters who behave, speak and live in a way that breaks away from the conformist role of females during the 16th century. Therefore, the submissive stereotype expected of women in Shakespearean time is confronted and defied through
…show more content…
The women each give their husbands a ring as a symbol of their love, and tell them to never remove them to show their faithfulness. However, during the court trial, the disguised women convince the men to give up their rings and later confront them strongly about this. The quote from the text; ‘You would not have parted with the ring. What man is there so much unreasonable’ (Act 4, Scene 1, 202-203), suggests a tone of strength and courage in Portia’s voice. She is standing up to her husband, supposedly the most dominant person in Elizabethan relationships, which very much defies the stereotype of women in the 16th century. Shakespeare represents women as powerful characters who overpower men and defy the expectations of their time, ultimately positioning the audience to challenge their own understanding of women and their capabilities.
In conclusion, a thorough exploration of the play, The Merchant of Venice’, has proven that through the characterisation of both Portia and Jessica, as well as aspects of the play’s plot, Shakespeare challenges the subservient Elizabethan stereotype expected of women in the 16th century. Strong themes in the play position women as powerful characters who confront and defy the conformist stereotype of women during the Elizabethan period. Therefore, Shakespeare has liberated the role of women in

Related Documents