Theme Of Male Dominance In The Winter's Tale

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In the play “The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare, the role of male dominance is present through the misogynistic attitude presented in the male characters. After Leontes king of Sicilia believes his best friend and wife are having an affair, he demonstrates his power by punishing and shaming her. Leontes did not have concrete evidence about his wife’s alleged actions, yet she was treated unjustly by being sentenced to prison. Hermione could do very little to defend herself because she had to hold her tongue when speaking against a King. Although, women had limitations of what they could say before males condemned them, women like Paulina and Hermione show their distaste for the injustices they witness. Shakespeare uses a superior dialogue …show more content…
Throughout the text, Leontes is seen as an arrogant man who must get his way. The expressions Leontes makes demonstrates how he actually feels about women. Leontes appears condescending to his wife because he speaks with such superiority. After he failed to convince his friend Polixenes to prolong his stay, Leontes searches for an answer through his wife. Leontes states, “[t]ongued-tied our queen? Speak you” (5. 28-29). This quote displays Leontes authority over his wife. By saying, “[s]peak you”, Leontes is giving his wife permission to do what should be a natural right, which is speaking. Leontes was never careful about sounding disrespectful to his wife because he even mocked her. When Leontes states, “[t]ongue-tied our queen”, he is mocking Hermione, by suggesting that she and any other women speak too …show more content…
Hermione appears to be complaisant to her husband because she waits for her husband to acknowledge her and welcome her in the conversation. After Leontes says, “[s]peak you”, Hermione states, “I had though sir, to have held my peace until You had drawn oaths from him not to stay” (5. 29-30). This shows that even when Leontes treats Hermione with little consideration, she does not want to make her husband look bad. Hermione complies with typical gender roles and asserts her part by making her husband look masculine, in front of everyone. Hermione’s actions here could be considered smart tactics because she wants to keep her husband happy. She knows that if her husband is in a good mood, then their relationship will work best. Hermione wants to please her husband for a reason. She probably already knows that when her husband is upset, he becomes evil and inconsiderate. Shakespeare gives women very little dialogue, but when he does give women a chance to speak, what they say has a lot of meaning. When Paulina wants to make a point she does not limit herself to how she speaks. Throughout the play, Paulina is the character who speaks with truth and compassion. She is courageous enough to tell the king that his actions towards his wife are unjust. When Leontes is confronted and criticized for his actions he quickly accuses Paulina of being, “[a] mankind witch,”

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