Women in Shakespeare's Plays

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Women in Shakespeare´s Plays

1. Appearance and Behavior
- women are adorable creatures of sweetness and grace, phantoms of delight
- they are angels of purity and they are "good"
- they are the most enchanting women in literature and they are beautiful, but Shakespeare could not describe them in detail
- their voices are charming, beautiful and well-placed
- they seem to exist only in their attachment to others
2. Roles in the plays
- in more than half of Shakespeare´s plays, women have the most important role
- often, they are cleverer and braver than men and they take the initiative in order to save someone else´s life, whereas men remain passive (Portia)
- Shakespeare had no heroes, only heroines -most of these are faultless, steadfast in
grave hope and errorless purpose
- the wittiest and most playful of these heroines is Beatrice: she forsakes her pride and her contempt after she realizes that she has fought against her inclinations long enough and that she is attracted to Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing)

-> especially these energetic, intelligent and ready-witted women were uncommon in the Elizabethan age, but they delighted the spectators most 3. Love between women and men and their relationship

- women throw themselves at the necks of the men they have decided to love without much understatement but with utter abandon
- Shakespeare´s heroines are taught by the force of feeling and they are ruled by love
- Shakespeare seems to take it for granted that if a girl is really in love, she will marry the man who has won her heart - no matter what stands in the way
- often, love turns to hate and disgust and men start to regard all women as prostitutes (Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing)
-> women are often innocent victims of masculine jealousy and paranoia (Desdemona in Othello / Hero in Much Ado About Nothing)
- different relationships between...
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