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.
"The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused." --Shirley Maclaine