Was Shakespeare a male chauvinist?

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Was Shakespeare a male chauvinist?

Unread postby Zaha » Mon Nov 18, 2002 4:15 am

Do you think Shakespeare was a male chauvinist? If so, why... or why not...?
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Unread postby Zhanghe_of_Wei » Mon Nov 18, 2002 10:11 am

I've never thought of Shakespeare as a chauvinist, but more of a sadist really. His classics like Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet have dark plots of murder, death, witches etc. Besides, in Merchant of Venice, he made Portia an intelligent lady who disguised herself as a lawyer and saved her fiance on trial. So, Shakespeare's not much of a chauvinist to me.
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Unread postby Shi Jing Xu » Tue Nov 19, 2002 2:41 am

I don't think that Shakespeare was a chauvinist, it was the times. It wasn't considered lady-like for women to be on stage, as well as to be portrayed as certain things in plays and what not.
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Unread postby DianWei » Tue Nov 19, 2002 3:12 am

in all honesty, i wouldnt think it was chavanism, but more along the lines of homosexuality... and yes i seriously believe it had to be true, with some of the sexuality in the plays, and the kissing the men did on stage, i truly believe some were probably homosexual
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Unread postby Zaha » Tue Nov 19, 2002 9:44 am

I just read my title and I realized that its all messed up. :oops: Its supposed to be male chauvinist and nor chauvinistic :lol:
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Unread postby Glaucon » Tue Nov 19, 2002 4:44 pm

I would say no.
Take King Lear for example: Goneril and Regan are put in positions of power. They are capable of manipulating the men around them. Goneril makes her husband Albany subservient in the relationship.

MacBeth-Lady Macbeth runs macbeths life. He would do nothing without her advice.

Overall in the tragedies (i never read the comedies) women are portrayed as equals, sometimes villified. They are just as intelligent as the men. Characters such as Cordelia idealize the stoic philosophy.

for these reasons i would say he is for equality promoting neither sex ahead of the other.
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Unread postby Glaucon » Tue Nov 19, 2002 5:04 pm

I would say no.
Take King Lear for example: Goneril and Regan are put in positions of power. They are capable of manipulating the men around them. Goneril makes her husband Albany subservient in the relationship.

MacBeth-Lady Macbeth runs macbeths life. He would do nothing without her advice.

Overall in the tragedies (i never read the comedies) women are portrayed as equals, sometimes villified. They are just as intelligent as the men. Characters such as Cordelia idealize the stoic philosophy.

for these reasons i would say he is for equality promoting neither sex ahead of the other.
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Unread postby Seven at One Stroke » Wed Nov 20, 2002 12:57 am

I wouldn't say that Shakespeare was a male chauvinist, although he is somewhat confined to the popular view points of his era. Although Shakespeare's work doesn't lack heroic female figures like portia, most of his positive female characters are more or less helpless in comparison to their male counterparts. Take A Midsummer Night's Dream for example, even though Hermia was determined not to marry her father's choice and risk becoming a nun for life, she is essentially still submitting to the patriachal system. Although some may point out that later she did run away from Athens, it wasn't until her lover bid her to do so that she decided to elope. It is the same case with Juliet and Cordelia and many others. Sure there are capable women in Shakespearean plays, but they're mostly limited to the archetypes of the evil witch or the haughty manipulative queen and so on. It is very hard to find a female character like Antigone potrayed in a positive light in Shakespeare.
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Unread postby Chu Liu Xiang » Mon Dec 02, 2002 1:10 am

Zhanghe_of_Wei wrote:I've never thought of Shakespeare as a chauvinist, but more of a sadist really. His classics like Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet have dark plots of murder, death, witches etc. Besides, in Merchant of Venice, he made Portia an intelligent lady who disguised herself as a lawyer and saved her fiance on trial. So, Shakespeare's not much of a chauvinist to me.


A sadist? Shakespeare also wrote comedies. Take Much Ado About Nothing for example. Wasn't anything sadistic about that play.
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Unread postby Emily » Thu May 27, 2004 10:39 pm

No, I don't believe that Shakespeare was a male chauvinist. In fact, I think that despite the fact that he lived in a chauvinistic age, he actually held rather modern beliefes that leaned towards sexual equality.

As Glaucon pointed out, many of his plays feature women in dominant roles, or at least those equal to men. However, I don't think that using Goneril, Reagan, and Lady Macbeth as examples is a very good example. In fact, it's rather counterproductive. It's true that all three were powerful, but their respective intrigues lead to widespread death and destruction. If most of Shakespeare's female leads had followed this example then I think one would be perfectly justified in seeing him as a misogynist.

Instead, look at some of his other characters, like Much Ado About Nothing's Beatrice--who is a witty, strong, and proud woman--or the incredibly intelligent Portia from The Merchant of Venice. Both of these two women have a tendency to dominate their respective plays (with the edge going to Portia). Even some of the weaker characters--like Hermione from The Winter's Tale--have inner strengths and characteristics that make them seem stronger than the ideal female of the Elizabethan Period.
Last edited by Emily on Fri May 28, 2004 3:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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