Essay on William Shakespeare 's Romeo And Juliet

2185 Words Dec 12th, 2016 9 Pages
William Shakespeare’s plays portray some women as learned and strong, some vulnerable and weak, but they are all fully-developed human beings. Even though feminism is a 19th century term and women were not even allowed to perform as actors until the 17th century, Shakespeare depicts his female characters just as prominently as his male characters. The duality of women in Shakespeare’s plays reveals his respect towards them, for they are complex and contribute equally as men to society. These plays are not a misogynistic portrayal of women, but rather a criticism of how men treat their female counterpart. Shakespeare offers opportunities for feminist reading through the lens of Ophelia’s reluctant fragility in a male dominated world, Gertrude’s moral strength, and Juliet’s defiant perseverance.
Hamlet is a very masculinist play that lays out women for speculation in order to radically subvert Hamlet’s decisions. The body is an instructive object and “one that the ruthless dynamism of Shakespeare’s Renaissance scene does not hesitate to open to the gaze of observers” (Rutter 300). Polonius and Laertes infantilize Ophelia and she continually responds to commands that compel her to obedience. Polonius behaves in an almost savage and depraved manner towards his daughter Ophelia, insinuating that her actions would reflect badly upon the Kingdom. His verbally assails Ophelia on her relationship with Hamlet: “Affection? Pooh!/ You speak like a green girl, /Unsifted in such perilous…

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