Shakespeare’s Women: The Weaker Vessel or Stronger Sex? | English Literature Dissertation

The subject of gender relationships within the work of Shakespeare became a matter of lively debate during the last quarter of the twentieth century and continues to be an area that attracts much scholarship and controversy.

Perceptions that early modern society was antithetical to any exercise of power by women must be counterbalanced by the knowledge that, until 1603, a woman, Queen Elizabeth, held the ultimate power in England. Recent research has increasingly revealed that across this society a significant number of women held economic and social power and so the idea that Shakespeare reflects a society in which women area powerless and oppressed group is one which must be treated with somecaution.

Shakespeare’s work presents a wide variety of female characters and the ways in which they have been perceived has altered over the four hundred years since the plays and poems were written. Play scripts areparticularly susceptible to re-interpretation and in many ways such interpretations reflect as much about their own historical period asabout the one in which the plays were originally written. Each age finds its own relationship with Shakespeare and so it could be arguedthat the question of whether Shakespeare’s women are regarded as strongor weak is inevitably influenced as much by the gender issues of the present time as by the time in which they were originally created. It is important not to assume that we can read Shakespeare’s women characters as ‘examples of how women were treated in the period in which the work was written’ (Barker & Kamps, 1995, 5), but rather to use the information that we have about the early modern period in order to see the characterisation of fictional characters as they relate to the constraints which operated on real women of the period.It is also necessary to be aware that, with any dramatic texts, the interventions of actors, directors and current audience expectationscan radically alter the ways in which fictional characters are judged.

It is the intention of this dissertation to give a brief introduction to the conventional views of women during the early modern period. Some scholars, such as Lisa Jardine (1989), Jean E. Howard (1988) and Juliet Dusinberre (1996), have argued that the way in which Shakespeare created women characters was in part determined by the fact that they were represented by boy players on the stage. However, it is hoped that by including a discussion of the narrative poem, The Rape of Lucrece, which was not intended for stage production, this dissertation will emphasise a continuity among Shakespeare’s female characters that goes beyond the necessities of the stage. The discussion will also focus on three of Shakespeare’s great tragedies, written during at the peak of his career, when his work had become popular amongst a large audience. The popularity of Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth has enduredover four centuries and these plays continue to reach wide audiencesand have a significant influence on current views of Shakespeare’s women.

In early modern England, notions about female gender roles tended to be constructed by two forms of discourse: the theological and themedical. Theological sermons and pamphlets emphasised the biblicalinjunctions that women should be silent and obedient and that they were subject to the authority of their husbands. Callaghan (1989, 9) arguesthat Renaissance society was ‘profoundly hierarchical’ and that the chain of authority extended from God, via the monarch, to men and women who were expected to conduct their household relationships inconformity with the idea that women were subject the authority of their fathers and husbands. Belsey (1985, 9) emphasises that men and women are not symmetrically defined. Man, the centre and hero of liberal humanism, was produced in contradistinction to the objects of his knowledge, and in terms of the relations of power in the economy and the state. Woman was produced in contradistinction to man,and in terms of the relations of power in the family.

These relationships were worked out in the public and private spheres in the requirement that, in terms of the economy and the state,women should be voiceless, and within the family they should be subjec tto their husbands, fathers and other male relatives. Thus, Newman (1991, 134) argues:

Talk in women then is dangerous because it is perceived as ausurpation of multiple forms of authority, a threat to order and malesovereignty, to masculine control of commodity exchange, to a desiredhegemonic male sexuality. The extent of this perceived threat may begauged by the strict delegation of the talking woman to the carefullydefined and delimited spheres of private and domestic life in which thehusband was exhorted to rule.

In early modern medical texts, the classical theories of Galen andAristotle, in which the female was regarded as in imperfect version ofthe male, predominated. Aughterson, (1995, 42) argues that ‘the Galenictheories of the humours … effectively continued to assign woman aninferior physiological state to that of man’. Howard (2003, 419)observes that ‘men and women were not assumed to be innately different,but rather were viewed as more perfect and less perfect versions of thesame prototype’. From these constructions of physiological theory camethe idea that male and female were so intimately related that they werepotentially capable of transmutation:

Stories exist from the early modern period recording cases in which,when women supposedly became overheated in running or jumping, malegenitalia would erupt from inside their bodies. (Howard, 2003, 419).

That Shakespeare was aware of these ideas and utilised them in hischaracterisations of men and women is demonstrated when Hamlet isconcerned about his feminisation (Rose, 1995, 116), and when LadyMacbeth refutes her femininity: ‘Come, you Spirits / That tend onmortal thoughts, unsex me here’ (Macbeth I.v.40-41).
The term ‘weaker vessel’ originates from the Bible and can beeffectively seen to straddle both theological and the physiologicaltheories about the relationships between women and men, as isillustrated from the following extract from a homily, dated 1562,designed to be the required reading at marriage ceremonies:

St Peter giveth his precept saying: you husbands deal with yourwives according to knowledge, giving honour to the wife as unto theweaker vessel, and as unto them that are heirs also of the grace oflife, that your prayers be not hindered [1 Peter 3). … For the womanis a weak creature, not endued with like strength and constancy ofmind, therefore they be the sooner disquieted, and they be the moreprone to all weak affections and dispositions of the mind, more thanmen be, and lighter they be, and more vain in their fancies andopinions.
(An Homily of the State of Matrimony, 1562, from Aughterson, 1995, 23.)

This essentially conservative and restrictive view of women was held,in spite of, or perhaps because of the upheaval and unrest of Englandat that time. Early modern England was a society in transition and thedisquiet that came with modernisation often led to reactive measuresdesigned to uphold the status quo. The sumptuary laws, in which modesof dress were prescribed in order to maintain class differences, can beread as an attempt to rein back an increasing level of socialmobility. Similarly, the discourse of gender difference has beeninterpreted as an essentially conservative reaction to social change:

Time and again in these plays, we see crucial social problemspresented in relation to a central conflict involving genderopposition. Furthermore, since that opposition entails a fundamentalhierarchy (male superiority and female subordination), its function, interms of the dominant ideology is to reinforce the status quo. Yetthis function is problematic. Female inferiority was not an undebatedcultural given. It was fiercely contested…Callaghan (1989, p.11):

Recent research supports this argument. The discourse of malesuperiority and female subordination must be seen in a historicalcontext in which a significant number of women had influence in thewider society. There were many wealthy women who wielded greateconomic power; some women participated in the workplace through guildmembership; a significant number of households were headed by women;and a number of women in various part of the country also participatedin parliamentary elections (Rackin, 19-20). It is necessary,therefore, to balance this kind of historical evidence against therhetorical evidence that we find in contemporary texts. The attempt toprescribe and define female roles and responsibilities reflects ananxious reaction to social change, an attempt to arrest progress andestablish a conservative status quo. These anxieties and the contestedground concerning the acceptable role of women in early modern societyinevitably affects the presentation of women in the plays and poetry ofthe period. In reading Shakespeare’s texts, it is possible to discoveraspects of the discourse of patriarchal authority as well as evidenceof women’s power as agents in their own destinies. Whilst the notionof woman as ‘the weaker vessel’ often informs the construction ofcharacter in Shakespeare’s work, I intend to argue that a closeexamination reveals that, in spite of the social restraints placed uponthem, these women often reveal a strength that goes beyond anythingthat may be expected.


  • 1 2 The Rape of Lucrece
  • 2 3. Hamlet
  • 3 4. King Lear
  • 4 5. Macbeth
  • 5 5. Conclusion

2 The Rape of Lucrece

Shakespeare’s narrative poem, The Rape of Lucrece, is based onclassical sources in Livy and Ovid and so there are some necessaryconstraints upon the actual ‘plot’ of the poem. For example, Lucrece’ssuicide derives from the source materials and, in the context of Livy’sThe History of Rome from Its Foundation, this event is instrumental inending the reign of kings and instituting the Roman Republic. It isnecessary, therefore, to understand that the classical story primarilyexemplifies the abuse of tyrannical rulers and has a deeply politicalsignificance. While St Augustine later argued that the suicide ofLucrece was, from a Christian theological standpoint, culpable,nonetheless in the classical world Lucrece’s death was celebrated asboth tragic and heroic (Hendricks, 2000). We must, therefore,distinguish between the story that Shakespeare inherited and what hehas done with it as a narrative: to discuss Lucrece’s suicide as thoughit were an optional plot device is to misunderstand the nature of thesource material. It is a given that Lucrece will commit suicide, butthe way in which Shakespeare has constructed the narrative and the waythat he has characterised the participants in this story carries aweight of significance. The poem concentrates not so much on theexternal events of the story, but on the internal experience of thecharacters or, as Maus (1986, 67) comments, the poem ‘concentrates notupon action but upon what happens in the interstices between the“important” moments’ when ‘two people [make] important decisions’.
There are two significant tropes within this poem that are crucial tothe portrayal of Lucrece’s character and are pertinent to the questionof her strength. One of these tropes has been discussed by CoppeliaKahn (1995, 42) where she argues that Shakespeare ‘clearly blames menfor exercising several kinds of unfair advantages over women’ and thathe ‘leans heavily on the traditional conception of woman’s physical,moral and intellectual inferiority to man’. She is referring to thepassage in which men are compared with marble and women with wax:

For men have marble, women waxen minds,
And therefore are they formed as marble will.
The weak oppressed, th’impression of strange kinds
Is formed in them by force, by fraud, or skill.
Then call them not the authors of their ill,
No more than wax shall be accounted evil
Wherein is stamped the semblance of a devil. (1240-1246)

Kahn (1995, 23) argues that Lucrece is the victim of a patriarchalsystem and that Shakespeare uses the patriarchy of the classical worldto ‘mirror’ his contemporary society. The trope of the marble and thewax therefore emphasises the pliability of women and their inability tohave any control over their destiny in a patriarchal society that soseverely restricts their power to act, or even to take moralresponsibility for themselves. In Kahn’s reading, Lucrece does,indeed, seem to have taken a waxlike impression of society’s valueswith respect to her status as her husband’s possession and the way inwhich she sees herself as a de-valued object when she is tainted or’stained’ by rape. However, the poem also proposes an alternativetrope that seems crucial to an understanding of the nature of women.At the pivotal moment when Tarquin has entered Lucrece’s bedroom anddisclosed his intention to rape her, Shakespeare introduces a picturethat may call into question the comparable strengths of men and women:that of the marble and the water.
Until this moment, the poem is constructed to show the readerTarquin’s point of view. One stanza particularly creates a directidentification between the reader and Tarquin:

So that in vent’ring ill we leave to be
The things we are for that which we expect;
And this ambitious foul infirmity,
In having much, torments us with defect
Of that we have: so we do neglect
The thing we have; and all, for want of wit,
Make something nothing by augmenting it. (148-154)

By using ‘we … we … we … us … we …we … we’, Shakespeare removes thespace between Tarquin and the reader, implicating the reader in thekind of rash risk-taking action where Tarquin is shown ‘pawning hishonour to obtain his lust’ (156). Similarly, in Tarquin’s inner debateregarding whether he should carry out his intention to rape Lucrece(181-301) and in his reaction when he sees her asleep (365-441), thereader has full access to his thoughts and emotions, while Lucrece ispresented as an object whose external attributes are described inextensive detail yet to whose inner experience there is no access.The ‘blazon’ description of Lucrece as she sleeps does indeed bear outNancy Vickers’s (1985, 96) assertion that the ‘canonical legacy ofdescription in praise of beauty is, after all, a legacy shapedpredominantly by male imagination for the male imagination; it is, inlarge part, the product of men talking to men about women’. The firstthird of the poem does, indeed, present Lucrece as a silent presence, athing talked about, but apparently without a voice of her own.
Yet the crucial turning point of the poem occurs when she is awoken byTarquin. This act of awakening coincides with the sudden access thatis given to the reader to Lucrece’s inner experience and her voice inthe poem. Until this point, the poem attributes some reported speechto her, but the first time when her words are recorded as direct speechoccurs in the stanza which begins ‘Quoth she…’ (575). From this pointonward, the narrative becomes intensely concerned with Lucrece’s innerexperience, in her perception of the harm done to herself and herhusband as well as in her decision to commit suicide. Hercontemplation of a painting of the siege of Troy similarly enables thereader to identify with her as a person who is imaginatively engagedwith a work of art and as a person who is able to argue about moral andphilosophical issues in her own mind.
It is at this point of apparent transformation in the reader’sperception of Lucrece when Shakespeare introduces his second tropewhich, I believe, is crucial to the portrayal of Lucrece, when thepoem’s narrator comments: ‘Tears harden lust, though marble wear withraining’ (560). Although this is ostensibly a comment on Lucrece’sinability to deflect Tarquin from his course by her tears and pleas, itsimultaneously proposes that even the hardness and permanence of marblecan be worn down by something as seemingly soft as water. The Galenichumoural system opposed the wet, female humour with the dry, malehumour and so this picture of water that eventually erodes marble canbe seen not just as an inversion of the hard = strong / soft = weakequation, but also as a specific reference to the wet and dry humoursof men and women. When viewed in the long term, water is stronger thanmarble and this image is re-iterated, when Lucrece herself takes up theimage: ‘For stones dissolved to water do convert’ (592). AlthoughLucrece’s pleas for mercy are ineffective in this moment, her wordsnevertheless alert the reader to the relative strengths of stone andwater in the longer term and later her realisation that Time can ‘wastehuge stones with little water drops’ (959) leads her to curse Tarquin:

Disturb his hours of rest with restless trances;
Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans;
Let there bechance him pitiful mischances
To make him moan, but pity not his moans.
Stone him with hard’ned hearts harder than stones,
And let mild women to him lose their mildness,
Wilder to him than tigers in their wildness. (967-973)
Atthis point, then, Lucrece’s line of thought has linked the image ofhearts harder than stones with the reversal of mild women who are nolonger helpless prey, but instead predatory tigers. In the early partof the poem, Lucrece is persistently depicted as a passive victim andthis is emphasised by twin images of predator and prey, such as thenight owl and the dove (360), a serpent and a sleeping woman (362-3), afalcon and a fowl (506-7), a cockatrice and a hind (540-3), a cat and amouse (554-5), a wolf and a lamb (679). Although Lucrece is physicallyunable to protect herself from Tarquin, after he leaves, this imageryis no longer used and Lucrece gains an active voice and a moralpresence that eventually lead her to the act of suicide. Henricks(2000, 115), comments that Shakespeare gives Lucrece ‘a psychologicalcomplexity’, ‘interiority’ and ‘self-awareness’.
The presentation of Lucrece’s moral complexity seems to be at oddswith the men in the narrative. Her husband is depicted as a man who isat fault from his initial boasting of his wife as a materialpossession, thereby exposing her to thieves (29-35), and he is laterdescribed as ‘the hopeless merchant of this loss’ (1659). His finalignominy is the ridiculous squabble with Lucretius over ownership:

The one doth call her his, the other his;
Yet neither may possess the claim they lay.
The father says, ‘She’s mine.’ ‘O mine she is’,
Replies her husband: ‘do not take away
My sorrow’s interest; let no mourner say
He weeps for her, for she was only mine,
And only must be wailed by Collatine.’ (1793-1799)

Brutus takes the knife from Lucrece’s side and ‘burying in Lucrece’wound his folly’s show’ (1810), he begins to admonish Collatine andLucretius. In this way, her death is presented as having a redemptivesignificance, not only for Brutus, but also for Rome itself. Although,within the Christian theological tradition, suicide is condemned,nonetheless Shakespeare deliberately chose as his theme a story inwhich a suicide has a positive political effect and is placed within aheroic tradition.
The Rape of Lucrece depicts a woman in her most vulnerable moment whois unable to resist her enemy. Yet it could be argued that she trulyfinds a way of fulfilling her assertion that ‘I am the mistress of myfate’ (1069). Lucrece, though she is entirely situated within apatriarchal discourse that constructs her as her husband’s possession,is neither silent nor weak. Finally, like water on marble, she has asubtle strength.

3. Hamlet

In the play, Hamlet, Shakespeare presents the audience with two femalecharacters who are quite unlike Lucrece. It has been noted thatLucrece undergoes a transition from her initial silence and is given avoice and an interior life that dominates more than half of the poem.Yet Gertrude and Ophelia, in contrast, are chiefly characterised byhaving very little to say. Showalter (1985, 78) says of Ophelia:

She appears in only five of the plays twenty scenes; the pre-playcourse of her love story with Hamlet is known only by a few ambiguousflashbacks. Her tragedy is subordinated in the play; unlike Hamlet,she does not struggle with moral choices or alternatives.

Lisa Jardine (1995, 316) makes a similar point about Gertrude, thatshe ‘speaks fewer lines than any other major character in the play’.It is therefore incumbent upon the audience or reader to fill in thegaps for these characters, who say so little for themselves. It may beargued that both Gertrude and Ophelia are presented as conforming to anearly modern stereotype of ‘correct’ feminine behaviour and that theirpresence within a patriarchal society has had the effect of deprivingthem of the opportunity for either action or speech.
It seems that Ophelia is the character who most epitomises theposition of a woman who is controlled by the patriarchal structuresaround her. She is presented as a woman of virtue who is obedient toher father and brother. Her reticence in the first scene in which shespeaks is effectively demonstrated by an extreme economy of words.When Laertes departs for France, her speeches are limited to halflines, single lines and pairs of lines as she receives instructionsfrom Polonius and Laertes regarding her behaviour. Although PhyllisRackin (2000, 22) has recently questioned the ‘scholarly consensus thatrespectable women were expected to stay at home, that they wereeconomically dependent on fathers and husbands, and that they weresubjected to constant surveillance by jealous men, obsessively anxiousabout their sexual fidelity’, it is nonetheless true that both fatherand brother are preoccupied by the risk of Ophelia losing her virginityand thus ruining herself and bringing dishonour to her male relatives.Ophelia has only one speech of longer than two lines in which toexpress her reaction to these instructions, but her initial obedienceturns into a comment upon male hypocrisy:

I shall th’effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But good my brother,
Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles like a puff’d and reckless libertine
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede. (I.iii.45-51)

Polonius’s subsequent conversation with Ophelia confirms this view,but he is plain about her responsibilities to him and unapologeticabout the double standards that operate in this society. He begins byreferring to the need for Ophelia to protect her own honour (I.iii.97),but he then moves on to his real concern: ‘Tender yourself more dearly/ Or … you’ll tender me a fool’ (I.iii107-109). Shortly afterwards hestates:

For the Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him that he is young,
And with a larger tether may he walk
Than may be given you. (I.iii.122-126)

Ophelia has the last line in this scene and it is – at least outwardly- an expression of compliance: ‘I shall obey, my lord’ (I.iii.136).However, her conversation with Polonius makes it clear that she hasbeen conducting a relationship with Hamlet for which she had not soughther father’s prior permission. This is perhaps an example of thecomplexities of courtship and marriage that existed in early modernEngland. On one hand, there is evidence that ‘arranged marriage wasprobably still the norm in practice, even though marrying for lovebecomes the ideal on stage’ (Belsey, 2002, 129); but on the other handthere is also evidence that a more uncertain situation existed where’preliminary decisions were made by the young people; the parents wereusually brought into the discussion only later'(Amussen, 1999, 94) .Ophelia’s behaviour suggests that the latter was a more accuratedescription of her situation.
Ophelia’s ability to express herself continues to be severelyrestricted throughout the scene in which she is confronted by Hamlet(III.i) and in the Mouse Trap scene (III.ii). However, she doeseventually find a voice, and it is through her madness that she isfinally able to confront the ultimate embodiment of male authority: theking. Ophelia’s use of folk songs as a way of expressing a sexualisedsensibility is in stark contrast to the verbal control of her earlierscenes, yet the meaning of her words carries the same message, asHattaway (2002, 114) comments: ‘what is significant is its exposure ofthe double standard: a man gains honour among his own sex by virtue ofsexual conquests, while by the same activity a woman loses hers.’ Thiscontradiction can be seen as central to the character of Ophelia and itultimately destroys her. Showalter (1985, 91) comments that somefeminists have regarded Ophelia’s madness as a form of ‘protest andrebellion’. ‘For many feminist theorists’, she states, ‘the madwomanis a heroine, a powerful figure who rebels against the family and thesocial order.’ It is also possible, however, to argue that Ophelia’scryptic comments on her plight are ‘contained’ by her madness and thatany attempt to operate outside of the strictures of patriarchy isforeclosed by her death. Ophelia’s madness has proved to be apowerful symbol of female insanity over the last four centuries: ‘wecould provide a manual of female insanity by chronicling illustrationsof Ophelia; this is so because the illustrations of Ophelia have playeda major role in the theoretical construction of female insanity'(Showalter, 1985, 80). With the benefit of four hundred years ofhindsight, therefore, Ophelia’s madness has attained a symbolicsignificance which is a contested site of meaning.
Gertrude’s part in the play has also provoked a great deal of commentand controversy. Jardine (1995, 316) comments upon the phenomenon of’blame’ that has become attached to Gertrude. Hamlet’s apparentobsession with her behaviour has been the subject of muchpsychoanalytical interpretation. However, the recent emphasis onviewing early modern literature within a historicist framework haspresented an alternative to the essentially anachronistic process ofapplying a nineteenth century theoretical framework to a seventeenthcentury play. With a greater historical awareness, it is possible toview Hamlet’s concerns in a different way: the anxiety about hismother’s behaviour that preoccupies him and distracts him from hisostensible duty to avenge the death of his father can be explained byhis mother’s apparently ‘unfeminine’ and inappropriate sexuality.Hamlet describes Gertrude’s relationship with Claudius as hot, lustfuland bestial:

Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty! (III.iv.91-94)

Disgusted by the physical evidence Gertrude’s sexuality, Hamlet hasthree issues with his mother’s behaviour: he has identified that she ishot (a sign of masculinity in Galen’s humoural system), he is concernedat the speed with which she has transferred her affiliation from oldHamlet to Claudius (thus refuting the requirement that women should beconstant); and she also seems to behave with too much liberty. As isclear from Polonius’s rebuke to Ophelia, men could be permitted agreater freedom, but a woman’s freedom to act was severelycircumscribed. Gertrude’s lack of restraint is seen by Hamlet asdangerous, both socially and politically. Hamlet is therefore dismayedby the fact that his mother is behaving in such a way as to go beyondthe conventional requirements of feminine behaviour and that she is, inhis eyes, encroaching onto male territory. Though it is true thatGertrude does not have many lines, her role is crucial to Hamlet’sstate of mind and to his ability to act in a way that he perceives asmanly. In marrying Claudius, Gertrude has also retained politicalpower as queen and this has almost certainly had the effect of barringHamlet from inheriting the throne from his dead father. It can beargued, then, that in her relationship with Hamlet she has a level ofpersonal and political power that is the cause of his inability to takethe action that feels is necessary to avenge the death of his father.
Gertrude and Ophelia, though they have relatively few lines, both havepivotal roles to play in Hamlet. Their influence over the outcome ofthe play is far in excess of the number of lines spoken by them. Bothof them are seen to go beyond what was the conventionally idealisedfeminine roles ascribed to them by early modern society. That theirbehaviour causes anxiety in the male characters in the play is clear:Laertes, Polonius, Claudius and Hamlet are all preoccupied by theirbehaviour, yet are unable to exert the necessary control thatpatriarchal power structures require of them. Although the socialnorms of patriarchy are clearly inscribed into this play, the womencharacters display a level of non-conformity that enables them tosubvert the power structures that seek to restrain them. Shakespearehas inscribed into this play a complexity of characterisation in bothGertrude and Ophelia that denies the simplistic category of femaleweakness into which their society might have tried to fit them.

4. King Lear

Ann Thompson (1991, 125) has commented on the difficulties thatthis play creates in that too much critical attention has ‘turned KingLear into a play exclusively or primarily about male power’, butKathleen McLuskie (1985, 103) argues that ‘the text containspossibilities for subverting these meanings and the potential forreconstructing them in feminist terms.’ In the opening scene of theplay, we are presented with what McLuskie refers to as a ‘love test’,based on the structure of a folk tale. The King creates a situationwhereby the fate of his kingdom and his daughters depends upon theirverbal declarations of love. However, if the ideal type of womanhood,as defined in early modern society, lies in its silence and modestrestraint, is could be argued that Lear is tempting his daughters intoerror by requiring such public verbal displays. He exposes hisdaughters to ‘the unseemliness of a living woman conveying her feelingsin a public format’ (Barker & Kamps, 1995, 4). Shakespeare is thusproblematising Lear’s behaviour from the outset: he embarks upon acourse that demands that his daughters prove their love by floutingpatriarchal conventions. The women are thus trapped: whatever they sayor do not say, they run the risk of disobedience, either to theirfather or to the wider requirements of proper feminine behaviour.
In Lear’s three daughters and their responses to this situation, weare presented with alternative types of female behaviour and the playalso focuses attention on their agency as it relates to the patriarchalstructures within which they operate. The play could be said to be anillustration of the weakness and folly of two old men – Lear andGloucester – who, as their physical powers diminish, lose their socialand political powers as well. Just as the source of women’s weaknesscan be traced to their bodies, so it might be argued that a bodilydecline in old men renders them weak and vulnerable. In the subsequentpower struggle, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia all make choices thatgovern their future and that determine the course of the subsequentdrama. Although this leads to the depiction of Goneril and Regan aspredatory adulteresses, whilst Cordelia ultimately becomes a victim whois unable to survive, it is nonetheless true to say that all three ofthese women seize opportunities to make their own choices anddecisions. From the outset, Cordelia is characterised as the pictureof modest womanly constraint, as she punctuates her sisters’ smoothrendition of filial loyalty with comments such as: ‘What shall Cordeliaspeak? Love and be silent’ (I.i.61) and ‘Then poor Cordelia! / And yetnot so; since I am sure my love’s / More ponderous than my tongue'(I.i.75-77). Cordelia’s virtue lies in her observation of duty andobedience and she is aware that every adult woman must divide her dutyand obedience between her husband and her father. Though this stanceis shown to place her in a double bind that leads to exile and thendeath, yet she has exercised her own choice and has resisted pressurefrom her father to take another course. In choosing the path of truthto herself, she has become her own moral arbiter and is the first ofthe three daughters to openly rebel against her father’s wishes,regarding her own conscience as a higher authority that his.
In contrast to Cordelia, Goneril and Regan show themselves to be awareof the political strategies through which power is obtained and theyare willing to flatter their father in order to gain it. The playfollows the subsequent reversal of power in which Lear becomes an’obedient father’ (I.iv.232), while Goneril and Regan become predatorycreatures, as for example ‘detested kite’ (I.iv.260) and’vulture'(II.iv.132). This predatory aspect to their nature is alsoplayed out in their sexual relationships, particularly with referenceto Edmund. Though Goneril and Regan use their strength for evil ends,it is nonetheless clear that they are able to act beyond what might beconsidered as their gendered feminine roles. In the universe of KingLear moral choices have consequences and it is clear that they areultimately punished for their crimes, as they finally prey on oneanother. Nonetheless, before they meet their end, they have beenpresent on the battlefield, a far cry from the domestic sphere in whichit was more normal for women to operate. Goneril and Regan have, in aperverse reversal of patriarchal power, asserted their ability tostruggle to satisfy their own desire for sexual and political power anin doing so have created a model for Shakespeare’s most transgressivefemale character.

5. Macbeth

In what Zimmerman (2000, 320) describes as ‘the hallucinatory realm ofShakespeare’s Macbeth’, the picture of a society which is in meltdownis inextricably linked with the portrayal of gender categories thatshift and collapse. The women characters in Macbeth – the witches andLady Macbeth – drive Macbeth forward in his course and exercise acontrolling power over his destiny. In that Lady Macbeth is portrayedas the energising and controlling force that impels Macbeth to killDuncan, she is certainly characterised as being stronger willed thatMacbeth. When Macbeth hesitates, she accuses him of cowardice: ‘Artthou afeard / To be the same in thine act and valour, As thou art indesire?’ (I.vii.39-41). Furthermore, she invokes the image ofmanliness and courage in action: ‘When you durst do it, then you werea man’ (I.vii.49). She shows no sign of entertaining the doubts andworries about failure that Macbeth voices. Yet, crucially, she cannotcarry out the murder herself and this is for a very specific reason:’Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had don’t'(II.ii.13). In this moment, when Macbeth is in the very act ofmurdering Duncan, Lady Macbeth identifies the source of power that shecannot overcome: patriarchal power. For all her strength of character,Lady Macbeth is thwarted by the socially gendered role of a womanwithin a patriarchal society. Her attempts to subvert her femininerole are symbolically represented by the presence of the witches, whosepresence on the margin of society demonstrate the destiny of women whochallenge the status quo..
In early modern England, the social exclusion of some categories ofwomen was associated with witchcraft and it is the marginalized natureof feminine power that is embodied by the weird sisters. Newman (1991,56) comments:

Not only were the practitioners of witchcraft in England women, theywere often disorderly or unruly women who transgressed cultural codesof femininity. … Significantly, all those behaviours transgressingtraditional gender roles were conflated – a witch typically was said tobe a scold, a shrew; to ‘live unquietly with her husband’; to be a’light woman’ or a ‘common harlot’ – witches were regularly accused ofsexual misconduct.

Women who were thus identified as transgressive were criminalizedand punished. In Macbeth, the witches are situated outside of thenormal bounds of society, physically located on a heath. Theirsituation with regard to the normal bounds of femininity also placesthem outside. As Banquo comments, their humanity as well as theirfemininity is in doubt:

–What are these,
So wither’d and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th’inhabitants o’ th’ earth,
And yet are on’t? Live you? Or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.(I.iii.39-47)

Here the utilisation of female characters to reveal what is mostevil and fearful reveals the anxiety of early modern society aboutwomen who refuse to conform to traditional gender roles and usurp thepower which legitimately belongs to men. Thus, Banquo is confounded bythe androgynous appearance of the witches who should be women, but havean appearance that is at odds with normal expectations. Rackin (2005,132) cites this as an example of ‘the prototypically modern assumptionthat the qualities of gentleness and pity are naturally grounded inwomen’s bodies’.
The social unease which these women embody is perhaps indicative ofthe uncertainties associated with the growth in mercantilism of theearly modern period. Literacy increased during the reign of Elizabeth;cities expanded and there was a growing middle class who took advantageof the possibilities of social mobility. These social changesinevitably created uncertainty and the unease appears to have beenparticularly focussed upon changes in women’s behaviour. Sermons andpamphlets of the period attempted to divert the flow of change byrestoring the older certainties and the traditional order. LadyMacbeth embodies the possibility and also the fear that is engenderedby these social conditions. She is strongly motivated by ambition andshe urges her husband to take the necessary action to achieve hergoal. In a society based on order and authority, such behaviour isdangerous. Just as the witches’ femininity has been called intoquestion, so Lady Macbeth’s pursuit of power is seen to reflect anaspect of her gender; her femininity has to be actively suppressed inorder to take action. She calls up the powers of evil to ‘unsex’ her,replacing the soft and nurturing aspects of her nature with cruelty andmurder.

Come, you Spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty! …
… Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murth’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on Nature’s mischief!(I.v.40- 43, 47-50)

In this overt rejection of the social expectations of femininity, LadyMacbeth allies herself with the witches and it is thereforeunsurprising that the outcome of her action is that her state becomesmarginalized by her descent into madness. As with Ophelia, madness isa state that is associated with existing outside of the normativeboundaries of a socially gendered role. In this state, although LadyMacbeth comes from the aristocracy and is now Queen, her positionbecomes strongly associated with that of the witches, who areoutsiders. Janet Adelman (1995, 105) argues Lady Macbeth’s affiliationwith the witches becomes an embodiment of female power and that theplay ‘becomes … a representation of primitive fears about male identityand autonomy itself, about those looming female presences who threatento control one’s actions and one’s mind, to constitute one’s very self,even at a distance’. The physical distancing of the witches ismirrored in the psychological distance that Lady Macbeth creates byplacing herself beyond the boundaries of normal Christian discourse inher speech ‘Come you spirits’ By articulating a determination thatrejects the constructions of normal maternal feeling, she similarlyplaces herself beyond the normative boundaries of gendered socialdiscourse:

I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this. (I.vii.54-59).

Lady Macbeth’s ‘direst cruelty’ is a means of refuting the femininerole imposed upon her in exchange for the power of action. Normally,action is considered the prerogative of male characters. When Macbethhesitates before killing Duncan, his manhood is called into question;Hamlet’s hesitation is similarly constructed and so the part of takingviolent action is specifically gendered as masculine. It is necessary,therefore, for Lady Macbeth to adopt the rhetorical device of rejectingher femininity in order to exercise power.
Yet she is unable to sustain herself after the desired action has beeneffected and, ‘while Macbeth projects his fears into hallucinations yetremains fully functional as a warrior, Lady Macbeth breaks down andkills herself’ (Sprengnether, 1995, 13). Although Lady Macbeth hasinitially been portrayed as a character who energises her husband’sambitions and rejects the softer side of her nature in order to gainpower, the ultimate expense of this strategy becomes clear when hercourse towards madness and death is as rapid and decisive asOphelia’s. Although there is an element of ambiguity that surroundsthe question of whether Ophelia and Gertrude commit suicide, it isclear that Lady Macbeth takes her own life. Like Lucrece, she is themistress of her own fate. Although she has, until this point, livedout her ambition through her husband, her death signals a final breakfrom him and she is described as having ‘by self and violent hands /Took off her life (V.ix.36-37). Ultimately, there is no place for herwithin the patriarchal bounds and so no place for her within society.Belsey (1985, 185) expresses the problematic situation of women who donot accept their gendered roles in this way:

The demonization of women who subvert the meaning of femininity iscontradictory in its implications. It places them beyond meaning,beyond the limits of what is intelligible. At the same time it endowsthem with a (supernatural) power which it is precisely the project ofpatriarchy to deny.

In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s power is indeed denied. Though, incomparison with Macbeth, she has temporarily appeared to have asuperior strength, her ultimate destiny is to be symbolicallyconfronted with the body of her sleeping father, whose power she cannotrefute.

5. Conclusion

During the early modern era, an idealised construct of femininityand masculinity depended upon physiological and theological theorieswhich posited a binary opposition between the male and female and wasdefined in terms of strength and weakness. However, Shakespeare’sfemale characters are never as one-dimensional as these kinds ofdefinitions might suggest. Whilst it is clear that such categoriesoften inform the depictions of gender roles, Shakespeare presentswomen’s strengths as well as men’s weaknesses. Real people are a mixof strengths and weaknesses and Shakespeare creates characters who arecomplex and layered in such a way as to have made their relevanceendure over four centuries. Though many of his female characters playout roles that are circumscribed by social norms and expectations andthough they often they attain their goals through the actions of men,they are not universally passive and disempowered. Neither are theyuniversally stronger or more morally virtuous than men. In The Rape ofLucrece, Shakespeare has created a tragic heroine who does, indeed,seem to have greater moral dignity and strength than the malecharacters in the poem. In Hamlet, however, both Gertrude and Opheliaare more ambiguous presences whose strength, though significant totheir eventual fates, is circumscribed by their inability to controltheir destinies. In King Lear Shakespeare presents three women who, indiffering ways, exhibit the strength of purpose and resolve to maketheir own choices and thereby to affect their own fates. Finally, inMacbeth, we encounter a depiction of women as dangerously transgressiveoutsiders who only have in indirect access to power which is playedout within the boundaries of patriarchal power. Shakespeare’s tragicwomen may be marginalized and victimised, but their often pivotal rolesin Shakespeare’s tragedies offer evidence of the complex and contestednature of gender and power.


Primary Sources

Shakespeare, William, Macbeth. The Arden Shakespeare, edited by Kenneth Muir, 1951, London & New York: Methuen.

Shakespeare, William, King Lear. The Arden Shakespeare, edited by Kenneth Muir, 1972, London & New York: Methuen.

Shakespeare, William, Hamlet. The Arden Shakespeare, edited by Harold Jenkins, 1982, London & New York: Methuen.

Shakespeare, William, The Poems. The New Cambridge Shakespeare, edited by John Roe, 1992, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Secondary sources

Adelman, Janet, 1995. ‘”Born of Woman”: Fantasies of Maternal Power inMacbeth’, in Shirley Nelson Garner and Madelon Sprengnether, eds.,Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender, Bloomington and Indianapolis: IndianaUniversity Press, 105-134.

Amussen, Susan Dwyer, 1999. ‘The Family and the Household’ in DavidScott Kastan, A Companion to Shakespeare, Oxford: Blackwell, 85-99.

Aughterson, Kate, 1995. Renaissance Woman: A Sourcebook:Constructions of Femininity in England, London & New York:Routledge.

Barker, Deborah and Kamps, Ivo, 1995. ‘Shakespeare and Gender: AnIntroduction’, in Deborah Barker and Ivo Kamps, eds., Shakespeare andGender: A History, London: Verso, 1-21.

Belsey, Catherine, 1985. The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama, London & New York: Methuen.

Belsey, Catherine, 2002. ‘Gender and Family’ in Claire McEachern,The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy, Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 123-141.

Callaghan, Dympna, 1989. Women and Gender in Renaissance Tragedy, New York: Harvester.

Dusinberre, Juliet, 1996. ‘Squeaking Cleopatras: Gender andPerformance in Antony and Cleopatra’, in James C. Bulman, ed.,Shakespeare, Theory and Performance, London & New York: Routledge,46-67.

Michael Hattaway, 1990. ‘Drama and Society’, in A.R. Braunmuller& Michael Hattaway (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to EnglishRenaissance Drama, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 91-126.

Hendricks, Margot, 2000. ‘” A Word, Sweet Lucrece”: Confession,Feminism, and The Rape of Lucrece’, in Dympna Callaghan, ed., AFeminist Companion to Shakespeare, Oxford: Blackwell, 103-118.

Howard, Jean E., 1988. ‘Crossdressing, The Theatre, and GenderStruggle in Early Modern England’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 39, 4,418-40.

Howard, Jean E., 2003. ‘Feminist Criticism’, in Stanley Wells &Lena Cowen Orlin (eds.), Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide, Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 411-423.

Jardine, Lisa, 1989. Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare, New York & London: Harvester.

Jardine, Lisa, 1995. ‘Afterword: What Happens in Hamlet?’, inDeborah Barker and Ivo Kamps, eds., Shakespeare and Gender: A History,London: Verso, 316-326.

Kahn, Coppelia, 1995. ‘The Rape in Shakespeare’s Lucrece’, inDeborah Barker and Ivo Kamps, eds., Shakespeare and Gender: A History,London: Verson, 22-46.

Maus, Katharine Eisaman, 1986. ‘Taking Tropes Seriously: Languageand Violence in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece’, Shakespeare Quarterly,37, 1, 66-82.

McLuskie, Kathleen, 1985. ‘The Patriarchal Bard: Feminist Criticism andShakespeare: King Lear and Measure for Measure’, in Jonathan Dollimoreand Alan Sinfeild, eds., Political Shakespeare: Essays in CulturalMaterialism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 88-108.

Newman, Karen, 1991. Fashioning Femininity and English Renaissance Drama, Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

Rackin, Phyllis, 2005. Shakespeare and Women, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rose, Jacqueline, 1995. ‘Hamlet – the Mona Lisa of Literature’, inDeborah Barker and Ivo Kamps, eds., Shakespeare and Gender: A History,London: Verso, 104-118.

Rutter, Carol, 1988. Clamorous Voices: Shakespeare’s Women Today, London: Women’s Press.

Showalter, Elaine, 1985. ‘Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, andthe Responsibilities of Feminism’, in Patricia Parker and GeoffreyHartman, eds., Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, New York &London: Methuen, 77-94.

Sprengnether, Madelon, 1996. ‘Introduction: The Gendered Subject ofShakespearean Tragedy’, in Shirley Nelson Garner and MadelonSprengnether, eds., Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender, Bloomington andIndianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1-27.

Thompson, Ann, 1991. ‘Are There Any Women in King Lear?’, in ValerieWayne, ed., The Matter of Difference: Materialist Feminist Criticism ofShakespeare, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 117-128.

Vickers, Nancy, 1985. ‘”The Blazon of Sweet Beauty’s Best”:Shakespeare’s Lucrece’, in Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman, eds.,Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, New York & London: Methuen,95-115.

Zimmerman, Susan, 2000. ‘Duncan’s Corpse’, in Dympna Callaghan,ed., A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare, Oxford: Blackwell. 320-338.


The Connections In Shakespeare’s

Over the course of the years, all through society, the job of guardians in life is to be the parental figures and defenders of their youngsters, while the job of youngsters is to regard their folks and offer back to them when the two youngsters and guardians become more seasoned. As youngsters develop more seasoned they turned out to be more free and can think about themselves as well as others. At the point when guardians become more seasoned, the rights and obligations of youngsters and parents switch.

After kids develop and gain the freedom to live without anyone else, it is their responsibility to think about their maturing guardians. At diverse occasions, guardians and kids owe each to her in equivalent adds up to express gratitude toward each other for bolster all through life.

The connections in Shakespeare’s play King Lear change all through the play as parent-child connections and love craftsmanship at one outrageous and end at the other. All through the play, guardians understand the genuine feelings that every kid has for them, and discovers which tyke genuinely cherishes them the most. King Lear and Gloucester find out the most difficult way possible that the youngsters they trust the most and the kids they trust love them the most are the ones that double-cross their dads in the end.

In the primary demonstration, the fundamental plot starts as a father-daughter relationship between King Lear furthermore, his most youthful little girl, Cordelia, winds up uneven. King Lear cherishes Cordelia the most out of his three girls, and needs to give her the biggest bit of the kingdom. Before long, Lear alters his opinion after she answers his inquiry about affection. Whenever Lear partitions up his kingdom, he isn’t happy with Cordelia in light of the fact that he is convinced that she cherishes him the slightest. Lear inquires that Cordelia protest the amount she adores him, and she doesn’t have anything to say at first. At last, after she pulls her considerations together, Cordelia responds,you have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back as are right fit, obey you, love you, and most honor you…Haply, when I shall wed, that lord…shall carry half my love with him…I shall never marry like my sisters, to love my father all. (King Lear, pg. 7, line 98-103).

This shows that Cordelia still loves her father, despite the fact that she holds some portion of the adoration in her heart for her father and the other piece of love to the man that she will wed. From this answer, King Lear winds up troubled with his most youthful girl and gives does not give her a segment of the land. Cordelia refutes Lear and demonstrates a demonstration of love and gratefulness towards her dad when, out of Lear’s three girls, Cordelia is the one that takes Lear in amid a period of assistance.

King Lear in the long run ends up destitute and need shield. In the same way as other guardians, King Lear goes to his youngsters for help. By his astound, neither Goneril nor Regan is eager to encourage their dad and give Lear protect for the time being. At the point when Lear approaches Regan for nourishment and shield, Regan declines and answers, Good sir, no more. These are unsightly tricks. Return you to my sister (King Lear, pg. 60, Line 156-157).

This shows Lear that once he gave Regan a piece of his kingdom, she acknowledged the land, and after that double-crossed him. After Lear leaves Regan’s kingdom, he goes to his oldest little girl for help. Astonished by and by, Goneril does not encourage her dad and give him nourishment or haven. When Regan and Goneril both tell Lear to leave their kingdoms, Lear soon understands that Regan and Goner did not cherish him, yet rather, they wanted his property. Both little girls realize that the best way to get a vast sum of land is to tell their dad that they adore him more than anything in the world. In the wake of asking both Regan and Goneril, King Lear has no decision however to approach Cordelia for help.

At the point when Lear discloses to Cordelia that he needs sustenance and asylum, Cordelia encourages him promptly. Cordelia gives King Lear a meal to eat and a place to rest. Through this liberality, Cordelia demonstrates to Lear that she is truly the girl that cherishes her dad the most. Out of the three young ladies, she is the main little girl that, whenever, is willing to take in her dad when required, and help him. Cordelia does this since she genuinely adores King Lear for who he really is. Since King Lear raised Cordelia well all through her adolescence, she feels that restricted to pay him back is to regard him and help him at whatever point required.

As the sub-plot starts, Edmund demonstrates his dad a letter that he found about arranging Gloucester’s demise, and claims that the letter is composed by Edgar, when truth be told, it is composed by Edmund himself. When Gloucester breaks down the hand writing in the letter also, questions Edmund about Edgar’s conduct, Gloucester persuades himself that Edgar, his own child, plans to slaughter him one day to acquire Gloucester’s riches and kingdom. Gloucester isn’t satisfied with this letter of murder and ends up troubled with his child, Edgar. To exacerbate the situation and set up Edgar, Edmund discloses to Edgar that Gloucester is distraught at him and tells Edgar, If you do stir abroad, go armed. (King Lear, pg. 22, Line 183). Edmund sets up Edgar this way supposing that Gloucester sees Edgar with a sword each time Gloucester and Edgar meet, Gloucester will turn out to be more persuaded that Edgar is out to slaughter him.

As the play proceeds with, Gloucester discovers reality about the letter. At his ch??teau, Gloucester is physically hurt as Cornwall, Goneril, and Regan cull out Gloucester’s eyes. As it were, this physical mischief can be associated with the letter that persuades Gloucester that Edgar needs to kill him. Culling out Gloucester’s eyes can make the homicide more convincible since Gloucester may trust that his own child, Edgar, designs out this physical agony that is being done to Gloucester.

Gloucester before long understands that Edmund misled him and it is truly Edmund that composed the letter. After Gloucester’s eyes are culled out and he ends up blinded, Edgar is the child that winds up thinking about Gloucester. This demonstrates Gloucester made the wrong presumptions about his two children and that Edgar thinks about his dad. At the point when Gloucester requests to be raised to the most astounding mountain, Edgar does as such and tells Gloucester when they achieve the highest point of the mountain. He reveals to Gloucester that the divine beings don’t need Gloucester to kick the bucket, and that Thy life’s a miracle, (King Lear, Pg. 112, Line 55) implying that Edgar is inspired by the manner in which his dad endure the eye culling. Through this announcement, it is clear that Edgar is the great child that really adores his father and does not have any desire to see his dad kick the bucket. Since Gloucester holds much love for Edgar, Edgar wants to help and secure his dad when Gloucester is in agony.

In the Shakespeare’s play, King Lear, not all children are there for their fathers when required. However, the ones who do encourage their fathers, make the best choice, and for a comparative reason, love. Cordelia and Edgar demonstrate the affection and both hold for their fathers high. Cordelia and Edgar would do anything for their fathers to demonstrate the affection they have despite the fact that their father may not trust that they mean well by them. By and large, children are there to love, help, and bolster each other from the earliest starting point. All through life, parents love their children genuinely and anticipate from a similar love and care they held for their children. The genuine, unlimited love is shown, not heard.

A legendary poet Shakespear

Shakespear was a legendary poet/playwriter that wrote about 37 plays and 157 sonnets, But the Tempest was one of his significant plays that left people wanting more. Some say that is was his last play before he died. Others argue that this play had identified some strains.

If you ask anybody what they really think about The Tempest they would say it was farewell from Shakespeare to the theatre. The theme of a magician giving his power up and going into Re rment can relate to that a lot. The Tempest takes place near a sea on an island where he was shipped to. The tend to go back and reference Naples and Milan to show the audience what time period they are in. The characters in the play are Prospero (the magician), Miranda (Prospero daughter), Ariel (spirit), Caliban (slave monster), and the nobleman all have distinct characteristic and each time the play was performed we see how each characteristic change and we all so see how each play setting changes over the years. I’m going to show you how the very first play changed from then until now regarding costumes, settings, actors, scripts, etc. I’m going to take you through the journey of the play and how it evolved over the years that passed. Page Break In 1857 Charles Kenan drew out plans for the paly using watercolor paint.

A lot of people said that Charles performance of the tempest was the most lavish ever staged. According to The British Library that it took five hours to perform the play with over 140 stage hands to move the scenery. He used a mixture off vibrant and dark colors. The performance space was nothing like the globe structurally. The stage wasn’t that different from the globe but there was a platform with galleries on three sides. A wall with a door in the rear and a music gallery above the trimming. It was half the globe size and the playing space was smaller. The costumes he used was the finest clothing and hand-picked jewelry that gleam brightly in the candlelight light. The British Library also stated that that first night of the tempest gave them a sense of the condition in Shakespeare owns day and the future performance of his plays for years to come. In 2006 Rupert Goold also did a live performance for The Tempest. He was a director that came with a clear view of what he wanted everyone to do for the play since it has been performed so many times. He wanted to make sure that his approach was very different. He drew out his designs where the island is where most of the things could happens. According to he wanted to give the island a real sense and not only a real sense but also a seral sense that let all the magical things to happen. Rupert Goold stated that he was keen on some endless landscape and that it was hard to do the landscaping of the scenery on stage. He did a lot of sketching and little story boards before putting his vision to work. He made it a nightmarish play because he felt as if the play was kind of a nightmare. During the storm part he had the background a dark black color with gray streaks in the water and grayish kind of color for the lighting. The island had this nice gold sand and palm trees because he felt as if the island was supposed to be hospitable. The Renaissance has played a big role when it came to Shakespear writing his plays, much like how Hollywood has a big part in our lives. That time period was warm, showy, and fashionable place. Italy fascinated Shakespeare a lot. We can see that by the plays he has written. The costumes were more of an Italy type style and the settings are always set in this nice vibrant area where its sunny sometimes. According to the book William Shakespeare age published by Harold Branam Shakespeare and other English writers that are set in Italy all have characters with Italian names. The historical context of this play is that people see The Tempest was the colonial play for America. According the Tempest by Gina Macdonald and Brinda Charry to many Americans the play is basically a story telling how Americans by Europeans. It’s important to understand the view that Shakespeare is really coming from. He has found a very smart way to incorporate colonialism into a play. Leaving us confused and happy at the same time. While trying to make one-character look like a hero while trying to make everyone have feelings for everyone else.

Shakespeare was very clever man who always had clever ideas that turned into a play. Willam Shakespear plays also be towards women there’s a movie called the tempest but with a female playing as Prospero it shows that shakespear had a soft spot for women and most of his plays are gender neutrl and could be played by either a man or a woman and everyone thought that was a good idea. William Shakespear will forever be a great poet/writer that goes down in history he was the known for having a great taste in style when it came to his characters costumes and setting a scene for the play. Even though we don’t really know who Shakespeare we is tend to get an idea or ideology of him through his plays and sonnets we sometimes feel connected with him though the words that he put in his pays. Even though his plays are not realistic he made it feel realistic which to us is something we value, and it enlightens us every day and that why we still consider Shakespeare to be the greatest poet/playwriter Now you have been through the years where you see how the plays changed through the years. We see that everyone had a different view on Shakespeare the tempest. Some people see the setting as a dark and gloomy thing and some people see it as nice place with vibrant colors, but it seems that everyone had the concept when it came to the costumes and setting up the theatre, but no one can set the theatre up and perform the play like Shakespeare did himself because everyone knows that the original play will always be better and it will continue to have a different view every time someone else is doing, Also Many director see this play as a challenge only because it has so much allusion in it and many directors love a challenge that’s why it’s a great play to do.

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

In his sonnet, Sonnet 18, Shakespeare illustrates whether or not his lover will live on eternally or temporally using a distinctive form of writing. Peaceful/frustrated tones, personification intertwined with metaphors, and descriptive imagery along with various poetic devices enable the reader to see from the speaker’s perspective. The speaker embraces his emotions to set the tone in a lovely way in which his lover would surely be surprised.

This Shakespearean style sonnet consists of 14 lines with an iambic pentameter. The sonnet contains two quatrains, shadowed by a third quatrain, and interestingly concludes in rhyming couplets. The poems use of two distinct tones and figurative language causes a reader to understand the passion the poet feels. In this sonnet, Shakespeare expresses his love in a unique way to the person he loves.

In the first half of the quatrain, the speaker starts off with a rhetorical question comparing the woman he loves to a summer day. The speaker uses a metaphor to compare his lover to a summer’s day since summer is considered to be warm rather than cold like winter would be. Rather than using any of the other three seasons, the speaker purposely chose the season that is considered to be the most beautiful to society. This is a great form of comparison because he uses this cliche and declares that she is in fact better than a summers day. In the second line, Shakespeare answers his own question and says his lover is more than that, but more temperate. The use of the word temperate means she is more measured or moderate than the usual summer day. In the third line, the speaker brings up the month of May as a method of comparison and alludes to an earlier time which is a time of youth. In the fourth line, the speaker states that summer is too short a date, meaning although summer is only temporal the persons beauty will live on. The tone in this first quatrain starts as peaceful and airy and continues into the second quatrain in the fifth line.

In the second quatrain the speaker uses yet another metaphor comparing his lover to the eye of heaven which is a denotation to the sun. This form of figurative language emphasizes how radiant his lover is in his eyes because he also mentions the sun being too hot. Ultimately he seems to hint at the fact that although the sun is beautiful and bright, sometimes it can get dim throughout time. The tone of the poem starts to shift for the rest of the sonnet. Shakespeare does not seem to neglect the form of imagery throughout the first quatrains. The speaker uses all of the five senses to paint a vivid picture of just how imperfectly perfect his lover is to him. He uses both hot and rough to appeal to the sense of touch, while appealing to the sense of sight by using shines and gold.

In the beginning of the third quatrain, the author uses a hyperbolic concept to exaggerate the love he has for his significant other. The use of the word eternal in line twelve, exaggerates how his lovers beauty will live on forever and the love for her will never die, but in reality one person cannot live forever or eternally. When the speaker mentions that death will brag in reality only humans can brag not death. The speaker also mentions that death gives off shade. He may reference death as a person who gives off shade and blocks the light which signifies a dark mysterious mood. This dark mysterious tone may be intentional for the speakers audience and expresses how his lover cannot be killed even by death itself. Shakespeare then proceeds to describe his eternal love in line twelve by stating that his lovers beauty will never grow old. The speaker does a fascinating job on describing how perfect his lover is. If we think of the time of year, we associate summer as someone who is in their prime, fall as someone in their middle age, and winter near the end of ones life. The choice of the words thou grow’st in line twelve contribute to the sonnets desperate tone to ensure his lovers beauty does not change throughout time. In the same line the speaker mentions eternal lines meaning in the poem he has written the love for his significant other will never pass because it is written in the sonnet and it preserves the love eternally. The lines can also refer to his lover being grown into time, as if time is a stream and his lover is going to be joining that stream therefore being preserved .

In the final rhyming couplet ending in rhyme scheme gg, declares just how immortal his lover is. The two final lines tells the reader that as long as people are able to read this sonnet the memory and the beauty of person Shakespeare has written about will last forever. All of the various forms of writing the speaker uses contributes to how romantic this sonnet really is. The speaker had a unique way of establishing a problem which was a frustration to help his readers understand just how significant his love truly is for his lady to then resolving the issue within the final two lines, called the couplet. Shakespeare used the season of summer throughout his poem to show how nature may fade, but ultimately art is immortal. Though beautiful at moments in time everything in nature enjoys only but a moment of perfection. Although physicality’s are so temporal the poetry of Shakespeare will end only when mankind seizes to exist.

Power Point presentation: Poetry and Beverage Analysis


  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 Childhood and Early Life
  • 2 Theatrical Beginning
    • 2.1 Career
    • 2.2 Stint at Poetry
  • 3 His Work and Style
  • 4 William Shakespeare
    • 4.1 Personal Life and Legacy
  • 5 William Shakespeare
    • 5.1 Analysis


It is universally agreed that literature without the participation of Shakespeare is that owning a river without water.

Despite the fact that literature would still be associated with some beauty and admiration without him, a careful examination would however, reveal that this beauty would be lifeless.

William Shakespeare remains to be the global utmost Writer and playwright in accordance to the English dialectal and has been associated with the honor of being the most superior England poet (Bayard 1).

Childhood and Early Life

William Shakespeare was the son of Mary and John Shakespeare. Despite the fact that he real birth date is not established it is conventionally observed on the 23rd of April, 1564.

Per the accounts acquired from church he was baptized back on the 26th of April back in 1564.

He was the eldest boy and the third born in a family of eight siblings. Shakespeare’s comprehensive childhood and his education background is unknown.

However, based on speculations, it is said that he attended King’s New School which is in Stratford an institution where he acquired reading and writing skills (Folger 1).

Theatrical Beginning

Before the known records which shows the start of Shakespeare dramatic career, there is a rather strange period of approximately seven years from 1585 up to 1592 which is not well understood.

It is however speculated by some that he was engaged in poaching while others state that he was operating as a schoolmaster’s assistant.

Based on performances records it is shown that his authoring career commenced in 1592 on a London based stage (Lee 6).

Despite the intensifying critics based on the lack of knowledge on his education his career rose with intensifying challenges but at the point his pieces and name had grown to be a major success a thing that would never be derived from him (Lee 6).

His career graph began to demonstrate some form of prosperous development when approaching the 16th and 17th century where out of the authored 37 plays 15 had already been performed and published which offered him a reputation and financial growth (Lee 6).

He later become an entrepreneur after he started to purchase real estate on the terms of lease. It was through the investments and the financial gains that offered him more comfort and time to focus on writing.


William Shakespeare is the author of thirty eight plays and about a hundred and fifty four sonnets, the work that was highly appreciated globally after the end of his living.

Plays and poems authored by Shakespeare have been translated to almost any other prime language and have been executed extensively as compared to all those authored by others.

It is rather interesting to note that the authority held by this utmost contour of the inexhaustible poet and writer intensified after his death (Schuessler 1).

There lacks considerable information in regard to his education, life , death and so on and therefore critics doubts that he is the actual author of these superior pieces most perceiving that the work might have been the performance of another individual (Schuessler 1).

Across the literature career, Shakespeare as the literacy genius addressed different playwriting genres which includes history, tragedy, love, and comedy.

This demonstrated the diversity that he held in his literacy career.

He is still deemed as a respected writer and poet, but it was not until the 19th century when his undoubtable desirable status rose rapidly (Toibin 1).

While most believe that Romance was his superior authoring genre, he was well-regarded by Victorians.

Even in the modernized and technological based 21st century, Shakespeare’s pieces are still being applied in literature studies as well as being performed in differing cultures.

It cannot be doubted that he is still the most cherished and prodigious contributor to the global literature.

Stint at Poetry

With the occurrence of plague, theatres were closed amid 1593 and 1594 which resulted to Shakespeare trying a poetry writing venture.

During this period he created two major poems titled ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘The Rape of Lucrece’ (National Endowment for Arts 1).

The poems simultaneously acquired much popularity and were printed on repeated mode. He continued with poetry where he mainly tried to address issues related to romanticism.

In the year 1609 he developed a poem by the title Sonnet which is still accounted to be an impressing piece but it was the last piece in the poetry field which acquired publication.

Within the poem there were approximately 154 sonnets but the authoring period is still doubted by many (National Endowment for Arts 1).

His Work and Style

In reference to the writing style that was applied by Shakespeare, he is considered to be an innovative and creative writer.

He mainly embraced convention and traditional styles in his differentiated strategies where he incorporated rhetorical and metaphor based phrases.

He however, he did not in often cases align to the characters or the plot of any given story.

Most of his poems and plays are characterized by the existence of musical patterns that are made of unrhymed lines (Potter 7).

Further, there some phrases that deviate from the common styles and utilizes poetry and prose forms.

In reference to poetry, Shakespeare was more involved in love and tragedy but his career began by addressing issues related to history.

He was a versatile poet however, where in most cases attempted to address different genres in broad concepts.

William Shakespeare

Personal Life and Legacy

Shakespeare had a rather strange life, his sexuality beside education is one of the aspect that is highly debated where most individuals speculate that he was bisexual.

Based on the conventional nature of his period Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was only 18 and she was 26 years where they acquired three children (Simon 1).

After his death however, several monuments and statues have been erected in his respect globally. It is said that he died on the 23rd of April a similar date with his birth but this is not based on evidence but speculation (FP 1).

William Shakespeare


If Shakespeare were a beverage, he would probably be a cocktail drink, which is popularly established as a healthy drink made from fresh fruits.

He would be the health beverage option in addressing the existing societal issues. He would not just generate health wellness but inner peace. For instance in his poem ‘’My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’’ and ‘’Sonnets’’ he does not only attempt to address love and relationship issues but he sounds like a mixture full of taste.

Given that he is still deemed as the most innovative and diverse writer the cocktail drink suits the diversity of his literacy career.

In ‘’Venus and Adonis’’ and ‘’The Rape of Lucrece’’ the uniqueness and the creativity of his poetry is well demonstrated which is reflective of his cocktail characteristics.

Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer’s Day?


  • 1  (A). Initial thoughts about the work.
  • 2 (B) Analysis of the Work
  • 3 (C). How knowledge gained influenced my thinking of the poem

 (A). Initial thoughts about the work.

This is the most fascinating poem written by Shakespeare so far because it focuses on the beauty of a friend with whom the poet wishes to remain forever in his memory. The friend is metamorphosed into a season of the year (summer) to show the profound joy and beauty he finds in such friendship which is purported held, dear.  William Shakespeare hopes that the memory he hopes to build out of this friendship should forever remain in his mind just the same way as those who die to leave fond memories in our lives.

I think the most interesting part about this poetry is the ability of the composer to perfectly compare the aspects of nature and humanity. According to Bently, Davis, & Ginsburg (2010), it is thought that throughout the poem, he humanizes nature and naturalizes the humane qualities of his friend. What a masterpiece! This is the reason why Sonnet 18 is a fascinating work done by Shakespeare due to the implied ability to compare two contrasting aspects of life.

(B) Analysis of the Work

The poet perfectly implied that as long as people will live in this world, this sonnet would forever remain in their minds. This was words written way back in the 16th century when the poem was first written; a period when civilization was rocking the entire Europe. Fortunately, the poem has lived way beyond the intended period and is still a 21st century darling of many literature enthusiasts. That as the patterns of the weather change year in year out, the aspect of beauty brought about by these changes still lingers in the minds and souls of many beings across the world. This is exactly what Shakespeare intended to pass across in his coded poem. Some of the insights that can be learned from the author of the poem are the aspects of resilience and creativity, largely contributed by the poet’s life as a dramatist, actor and writer. For instance, Shakespeare is described by his contemporaries as charming, honest, open minded and gentle. These qualities must have contributed to his perceived creativity to use his contemporaries as subjects of discussion in many of his poems. For instance, the choice of the title of Sonnet 18 must have been from the perception of his friends and critics alike with whom the poet had the desire to use them to deliver his message to his audience. William Shakespeare was and is still known to be the most talented literature guru who created a world of imagination from the ordinary using relatively coded language. The comparison of gold to summer shows the extent to which highly precious aspects can with time change in form and importance; just like the weather patterns change every time. The ravages of time still dominate the message in the poem especially in line 7 where he presupossedly talks about the dimming of everything that is always good (Kirchmayer, 2014). That in as much as outside beauty may or is praised among the population, it comes a time when such fades; but the beauty that remains in the minds and souls of individuals is compared to that of the lord who never ‘fades’.

The historical setting of the poem dates back to the 16th century a time when the poet was born. Given his lifeline, the sonnet came at a time when the author was at the peak of his literary life in what later came to be known as renaissance. Key among the attributes of this age include the high need for individuals to learn and discover knowledge by relating it to their daily affairs. The aspects of literature and philosophy were gaining momentum at this stage and science was also a phenomenon to reckon with. Literature enthusiasts such as Shakespeare could not let go off their creativity especially given the fact that they led lives that were characterized by actions and drama. The poet also describes summer as being accompanied by lots of disappointments in line 3 where he talks of the ‘rough wind which seemingly is unwelcomed and in line 5 where he talks of the summer sun which is extremely hot. But these imperfections of the summer season have a clear contrast with the dimming goodness of his dear friend whom he describes to be very template. The poet has as well clearly indicated that the beauty of his dear friend whom he describes as the lord shall not fade. He believes that history shall write itself and his friend will remain to be the same as time passes. The poet is also hopeful that so long as the human generation prevails, his poetry shall live forever and never fade.

The poet has used several themes and stylistic devices to help bring out an artistic representation of the general text. The speaker in Sonnet 18 focuses on fate and death of a beauty. He, however, comes up with a poem within which he strongly believes that shall not see the end of such beauty. He, therefore, steps in and artistically represents the ‘lord’ his beloved friend whom he can save from ravages of time by simply writing this poem. ‘Time’ in this context provides the intersection of the literature and the writing hence the theme. Man in the natural world cannot avoid being challenged with time but the poet believes that he can help him curb such a problem. The use of anaphora (repetition of the opening words) helps create a rhythm in the poem hence making it interesting and pleasant to its readers. The sonnet 18 writer also creates an image of his beloved friend by using a perfect being ‘the lord’. This brings out the imagery as a stylistic device used in the poem. Burgess (2013), in his critique, asserts that the stability of love and its power to immortalize things is a theme that is widely felt across the poem. In today’s audience, the poem is still relevant as it explores the social aspect of human beings and impact of love for others. The virtue of love for others should not be compared to the gold complexion that fades off with time. I think the poet meant that love should be eternal regardless of changing ‘seasons’ in an individual’s life. As long as we can breathe, we should reflect the true aspects of love and affection towards others.

(C). How knowledge gained influenced my thinking of the poem

Having known what the poem is all about, I became fully aware of the magnitude each phrase carries in the entire poem. I came to understand that the sonnet is a thriller having compared it with the most of the sonnets written by Shakespeare. A careful literature mind will be able to produce correlations between it and the real world despite wide use of metaphorical language. My feeling beforehand was that this was relatively a hard linguistic masterpiece; that one required to be a poetic guru to fully comprehend the message therein. Nevertheless, after an informed scrutiny, I late realized that this was indeed one of Shakespeare ‘easiest to understand’ sonnet since he presents his main ideas through metaphors.

Glass in Shakespeare’s Sonnet #3

The careful craft and design of poetry condenses the amount of text needed to convey information. This is true of all art, in that pieces are often qualitatively judged by how much they “say.” Good works may carry one or two levels of meaning hidden behind their lines, but a masterpiece holds an infinite amount of knowledge masked in the spaces between words. Lettersmiths such as Shakespeare, Keats, and Albee construct in their pieces vast symbolic subsystems that interact within the confines of the work’s consciousness. The actualization of a poet’s conception is likened to the infinity of two mirrors facing each other. As one moves toward a masterpiece (studying it) more layers are revealed and one is able to see the boundless possibilities of its analysis. As is the case with “glass” in Shakespeare’s sonnet number three, one word can flip meanings and resonate with clarity the soul of the masterpiece.In Victorian times the word glass, while still retaining its current day meaning, could easily reference a mirror or reflective surfaces like water. Sonnet number three uses these meanings to show the paradox of legacies. The word appears and is referred to both literally and metaphorically. It is important to realize that the disparaging interpretations that arise from the meanings of “glass” do not necessarily contradict each other. Instead both meanings are acknowledged in a deeper contextual message, and all the images of sonnet number three combine to pose a question between fleshly progeny and artistic legacy.The first mention of the word appears in line one as a strong command to the reader. The poem orders an abrasive self-evaluation and seemingly an alienation from the physical body. “The face thou viewest” (1) holds no possessive articles that would connect a reader to the image even though mentally they may be one and the same. This alienation leads way to line two in which the author, like a persuasive mother, calls for the procreation of the reader. The face in the mirror is precarious both in life and as an alienated object in the poem. Its reparation and conservation come in this encouraged form of youthful renewal. Cleverly this idea is reinforced by a rhyme scheme that links renewal and image stationing with reflection through the rhyme of lines one and three.A quite different interpretation of the quatrain becomes apparent when “glass” is understood in its traditional meaning of translucence. Line one now invokes two figures separated instead of one figure divided. The poem’s consciousness of itself now becomes visible as the reader is told to incite others to action. Both the poem and its orders are cries to the posterity of the self. They exude an importance that may “beguile the world” (4). Additionally each line of the first quatrain holds an extra hanging syllable. Emphasizing the message of the quatrain, the eleven syllable lines make the poem top heavy, which predicts affirmation and not condemnation by the final couplet. Accordingly the self-awareness of the poem and the manhood of the author pull the actual earthly consummation of romantic couples into question. These first four lines may, instead of a plea for human preservation, be a poem’s petitions for its own survival.The second and final mention of the word glass is found in line nine, “Thou art thy mother’s glass.” These lines point towards the lifeline that family brings to an individual. Seeing one’s self in a daughter is life extended. It is with this lively extension that comfort is found in the glass. It is painful to endure time, and with every passing moment the question of heritage lingers. A mirror that displays the markings of family is a window to ancestry. It comforts the old to know that the young live, but line thirteen has clear disdain of this comfort. Those that seek their own manipulated images for relief have impacted the world only through default. Shakespeare sees children as either a metaphorical device or, albeit less likely, as an easy path towards remembrance. More than the required acknowledgement of family, the author wishes for infinity to reach him directly through his words instead of indirectly through his offspring.Shakespeare pleas in his sonnet both to be remembered in the future and for those around him to leave a lasting mark on the world. His sonnet is the child of this desire, and in its lines, children represent works such as their parent poem. In the craft of poetic form a fair uneared womb is unscathed paper waiting for the tillage of a pen. Indeed, the act of advancing one’s works as an eternal legacy is extremely “self-loving.” However, Shakespeare accounts it foolish to destroy the station of his image. The poem reflects its author’s views and opinions and leaves them to tell the ages with an accuracy that children could never attain.The rhyme of the final couplet fits with rhymes in the third quatrain thus reinforcing their connections. The couplet does not overthrow the meanings of the previous images, but instead it serves to warp them from a literal interpretation into a figural one. Lines nine and fourteen are especially linked by their use of the same ending word. Initially they would state that others live in the mind’s eye only. Memory of those lost holds the power of their presence. With the influence of the entire couplet an importance is placed on the quality of one’s life and not the quantity of life’s birthings. Artistic and material works reflect the principles of their authors.In Shakespeare’s sonnet number three the single word “glass” that is mentioned only twice manages to completely overturn the poem from a plea for children to that of symbolic legacy. It is thus that the poem turns its reflection towards the reader. Viewing this sonnet is the same as asking “what have I done with my life?” It is a thing that inspires creativity and reverence for that previously created. One is able to see the care and thought which goes into great works, and there is a care to preserve such things. Just as “thine image dies with thee” (14) is true, so is its opposite. With the death of the author’s reflection so dies the author.BibliographyShakespeare, William. Sonnet 3. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. M. H. Abrams, editor. 2001. pg. 495.

Two Faces Seen as One

Innumerable poems address the concept of love, with the written battle between positive love and negative love continuing to be waged today. Not surprisingly, there are not, nor would we expect many future poets to write, many poems that juxtapose both the positive and negative characteristics of love. Shakespeare, an unconventional poet, does just that in his Sonnet CXVI. Shakespeare’s initial impression offers a seemingly positive outlook on love, though further insight reveals that his intentions may have been the complete opposite. His explicit details of an ideal love disguise his implicit use of form and vocabulary to show that love is rarely as perfect as we would like it to be.Shakespeare begins the sonnet imperfectly, perhaps as a way of foreshadowing how he later intends to describe love. While traditional sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, the first line of Sonnet CXVI starts with two trochees, exemplified in, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments” (lines 1-2). Ironically, this sentence does “admit impediments” by opening with a contradiction in form. Because Shakespeare emphasizes a “marriage of true minds,” he implies that only in an unblemished relationship can these impediments be forgone. His straying from iambic pentameter indicates hindrances to such perfection, evident even at the start. It is the first implication that love is never completely perfect.Deviances from standard form used to emphasize the deficiencies of love further occur in the sonnet with the violation of traditional metric use. Despite his expected adherence to iambic pentameter in a sonnet, Shakespeare includes a few lines that have eleven syllables rather than ten. These lines are meant to draw the reader’s attention and to emphasize their meaning. He compares love to a star “whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken” (line 8). This raises the idea that the value of love often goes unnoticed and that it is not as revered as it should be. Instead, people tend to measure its extent or magnitude superficially. He implies that while we may long for unconditional love in our lives, we are often sidetracked by the restrictions we place on it. Shakespeare also breaks from form when comparing love to time: “But bears it out even to the edge of doom” (line 12). A hasty reading of the line could be interpreted as the idea that love stands strong amidst disaster and tragedy. A closer look, however, raises the question of why love cannot transcend doom instead of merely meeting it at its edge. Shakespeare’s purpose in his wording could be to bring to light the idea that love is not as invincible as people would like it to be, that it can only withstand up to a certain point before weakening.Shakespeare also implies imperfection in his seemingly happy sonnet through the repeated use of negation. A cursory understanding of the overall sonnet is that love is positively described as unchanging and withstanding. Looking closer at each description, however, reveals that they may not be as positive as we initially thought due to the use of negation. He chooses his words to convey a sense of cynicism. For example, rather than simply saying something along the lines of “love is unchanging,” Shakespeare emphasizes what love is not: “Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds” (lines 2-3). He also does this when stating that love is not affected by time: “Love’s not Time’s fool” (line 9). This is, in a sense, a more effective way of describing love. More often than not, people are overly concerned with what love is when sometimes the best way to understand it is to look at what it is not. Shakespeare forces people to reexamine their preconceived notions of love, and come to grips with the fact that sometimes what they believe is love, really is not. Words are used to disguise what he actually means, that love can be a damaging facade. On the surface it may appear a lovely and wonderful thing, but behind the pretense is the harsh reality of this emotion.Shakespeare also employs negative language to exemplify love’s flaws. The sonnet is littered with words that are not often associated with love: “impediments,” “remove,” “tempests,” “fool,” “sickle,” “brief,” “doom.” Rather than conjuring ideas and images of romance and affection, the sonnet instead uses words that denote melancholy. The reference to “his bending sickle’s compass come” (line 10), for example, signifies the image of death and the Grim Reaper. Shakespeare also makes a reference to “his brief hours and weeks” (line 11), which leaves ambiguous whether the “his” refers to love or Time. In the case of love, “brief” suggests love is short-lived and fleeting.A master at obscuring alternate meanings behind the apparent, Shakespeare alludes to more unsatisfactory features of love throughout the sonnet. He repeats particular words, but what brings attention to them is the fact that the form of each word changes each time. “Alters” develops from “alteration,” back to “alters” again. “Bends” turns to “bending”, while “remover” becomes “remove.” Shakespeare’s choice of words is not unintentional. These three root words (“alter,” “bend,” and “remove”) are all associated with change, most likely indicating the changing nature of love.The connotations Shakespeare embeds in the sonnet offer a refreshing view of love. Though this may capture particular essences of what love is, it cannot be seen as only one extreme. Shakespeare’s technique of tackling the dual nature of love truly gives readers a sense of the facade it often takes in order to hide its dark side. Just as he uses form and vocabulary in the sonnet, Shakespeare brings to our attention the times we are blinded by the good that we see in the people we love, and our failure to notice anything unpleasant simply because we do not look hard enough.

Theme Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #29

This sonnet is narrated by a man whose emotions are completely at the mercy of another. Its theme involves the vulnerability of the narrator’s disposition and the power of love. Just when he reaches the lowest point of his depression, the addressee of the poem enters his mind and cures him of his misery.Shakespeare cleverly uses a recurring theme of heaven to help portray the broader theme of the poem. In describing his helplessness, he writes, “I trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries. . .” Here, “bootless” is used to represent the futility of his “cries,” or prayers to heaven. The diction, however, is extremely important in this context. The word “bootless” is also worthy of notice because it represents the hindrance of motion, since it literally means without boots, and without boots, it may become difficult to walk. This is contrasted later with an image in which the narrator likens his soul’s uplifting to “the lark at break of day arising.” Though the lark sings from “sullen earth,” its song goes straight to heaven. The reader may interpret the word “sullen” as “a gloomy ill humor,” “producing a dull, mournful tone,” or “moody silence,” as seen from the NED. The latter two definitions are more applicable to our discussion; they define the contrast between the mournful tone or the silence of the earth and the bright song of the lark. In the same way the lark’s song is unfettered, when the narrator thinks about this person, his state “sings hymns to heaven’s gate.” Whereas before, in his dejected state, his prayers were futile and motionless, now his prayers are mobile, and, therefore answerable. The image of the lark is common in Shakespeare’s works. Indeed, in act three, scene five of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers are speaking of whether the song they have just heard was that of the nightingale or that of the lark. Romeo replies to Juliet, “It was the lark, the herald of the morn. . .” Therefore, the lark also signifies the coming of morning, an image which further enhances the narrator’s spiritual ascent.The theme of the sonnet also emerges from a consistent motif of terms indicating affluence, which is suggested by the presence of words such as “rich,” “possessed,” “wealth,” and “kings.” The NED holds that the seventeenth-century meaning of the word “wealth” was spiritual well-being. Shakespeare uses this theme in an ironic setting, since these words are, in fact, used to help characterize the narrator’s misfortune. The second quatrain focuses on how the narrator envies the strengths of other men. He is in such a dejected and “outcast state,” that he desires “. . .this man’s art and that man’s scope. . .” The NED tells us that in the Elizabethan period, “art” meant any kind of skill, and that “scope” could be taken to mean “reach or range of mental activity.” The line which reads, “With what I most enjoy contented least. . .” is the best indication that the narrator has reached a low point. He is literally saying that he is in such a bad disposition that he now hates what he once enjoyed most. As we read on, this image is contrasted with the statement in the last couplet which reads: “For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings/ that then I scorn to change my state with kings.” In other words, the thought of this person makes him so happy that he would not change his fortune with any other man not even the richest of kings. This beautiful language, especially pleasing to the ear because of the iambic pentameter, summarizes the theme in the last couplet, as is customary in Shakespeare’s sonnets.The turning point between his state of depression and his uplifting realization is represented at the beginning of the third quatrain. He writes: “Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee and then my state. . .” The diction in these lines is most likely not an accident. The NED defines “haply” as “by chance or by accident.” When in the midst of his depression, the narrator only thinks of the person by chance. This is also visible when he writes, “For thy sweet love rememb’red . . .” because the word “rememb’red” suggests that he was not thinking of the person beforehand. This, to me, gives the impression that the addressee has been somehow temporarily removed from his life. For he never mentions the origin of his melancholy depicted in the first two quatrains, and the reader is left to conjecture what I have hereby mentioned. I also believe, however, that it is no mistake that “haply” is a close neighbor of “happily.” Thus, the diction allows the theme to be revealed through a turning point, or change in texture.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130: His Not So Fair Lady

Many men in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries composed sequences of sonnets about women whom they loved. William Shakespeare’s incomplete sonnet sequence is among the genre’s most acclaimed. Most authors embellished their women’s physical characteristics, but Shakespeare’s 130th sonnet states that his mistress lacks most of the qualities other men wrongly praise their women for possessing, such as eyes like the sun or lips as red as coral. While Shakespeare criticizes his lover’s physical traits, he believes his ³love as rare as anyŠ² and displays subtle disdain for relationships ³belied by false comparison.² Through this work Shakespeare tells the reader that true love recognizes imperfections and feels devotion regardless of flaws.Like most of Shakespeare’s work, his 130th sonnet has meaning on several levels. First, he commentates on love as opposed to lust. A lustful man would focus on pleasing corporal characteristics, such as white breasts, red lips, and fragrant breath; however, Shakespeare’s women’s ³breast are dun,² her lips not nearly as red as coral, and her breath less delightful than many perfumes. Because Shakespeare recognizes her bodily shortcomings, he uses his true love to contrast lust.Additionally, Shakespeare subtly chastises the common practice of exaggerating feminine beauty in sonnets. Contrasting conventional form with an anti-Petrarchan sonnet, one that states what the women lacks instead of what she has, Shakespeare hints that he disagrees with the common practice of praising a women for characteristics she may, but probably does not, possess. When Shakespeare ends the sonnet commenting on ³false compare,² he basically means that a man truly in love should not falsify his lovers attributes. Since Shakespeare believes love should see flaws but be able to overlook them, he disagrees with sonnets that dismiss and distort the muse’s defects.Finally, in his deepest meaning, Shakespeare implies all people should accept imperfections they can not change. Shakespeare’s woman cannot control her cheeks’ natural color or her dark hair, but Shakespeare loves her in spite of her imperfections. Perhaps, through this Shakespeare wishes to convey that all people should love themselves even though they are not perfect. Shakespeare uses his sonnet to differentiate between love and lust, criticize writers who fabricate their women’s splendor, and tell readers to accept what they can not change.To communicate his many meanings, Shakespeare uses several literary devices. Most obviously, Shakespeare uses rhyme and rhythm to make the poem more aesthetically pleasing. The consistency of rhyme scheme (ABABCDCDEFEFGG) and rhythm underscore Shakespeare’s unwavering feelings toward his lover.In addition to rhythm and rhyme, Shakespeare uses comparisons to tell describe how his woman is not. For example with a simile, he states that his ³mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.² Shakespeare also employs metaphors such as ³black wires grow on her head.² Essentially, every line of the poem except for the couplet describes the women through a comparison. These comparisons enable the reader to vividly picture what his mistress’ does not look like. Shakespeare uses literary devices to aid the reader’s comprehension.Overall, Shakespeare does an excellent job of expressing his ideas. Most importantly, the sonnet does not blatantly present its theme; instead, the sonnet veils its premise to ensure its integrity as a work in the genre. If Shakespeare had simply said that love should recognize and accept imperfections, stylistically, the sonnet would be weak because its pattern would be inconsistent with the other sonnets in the series, all of which describe Shakespeare’s relationship with his mistress, his feelings for her, or her attributes.Additionally, the sonnet’s unconventionality successfully draws the audience into the literature. While sonnet 130 follows the basic style of sonnet writing, it subtly criticizes the woman by comparing her to wonderful things and stating her inadequacies. Readers wonder why Shakespeare would highlight the flaws of the woman he loves so they hypothesize his intent. When writing actively involves the audience, as Sonnet 130 does, it sets itself apart from other works that simply speak to the reader. In a sense, Sonnet 130 is similar to the allegory of the cave because it has a profound meaning that the reader must search for himself.While the sonneteer excellently draws his audience’s attention, he also presents an exceptional breadth of meanings. The writing’s first meaning of differentiating between love and lust is relatively simple, and almost all readers would understand his commentary on the deadly sin. His second meaning is a more complex literary critique. Only those familiar with sonnets and their characteristic exaggeration would comprehend his censure of misrepresenting the muse. Finally, his last meaning, the most universal yet most concealed, displays his full skill as an author. All readers can relate to Shakespeare’s third implication that everyone should accept his faults that are beyond his control and love himself despite of them. Readers are less likely to recognize the last allusion because it does not tie as directly to sonnets in general or love as the others. Shakespeare’s ability to have diverse meanings at many levels for all members of his audience not only substantiates his skill but also mirrors some of his plays such as Macbeth, in which parts speak to every member of the audience. In Macbeth, the groundlings laughed at the porter’s crude humor while royalty found his witches entertaining. Like many good writings, sonnet 130 has meanings that speak to every level of society.Finally, for a stylistic dénouement Shakespeare effectively uses literary devices such as rhythm, rhyme, simile, and metaphor to enliven his words. The reader can visualize what Shakespeare’s woman is not like because of his colorful language, such as ³My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.² The sound-oriented devices Compositely, Shakespeare does a wonderful job in his 130th sonnet.Retrospectively, Shakespeare’s 130th sonnet is most significant because it presents a model of how true love should be. While the sonneteer appears to criticize his mistress for her imperfection, but it actually expresses the concept that true love recognizes flaws and adores in spite of them. In its 14 lines, this poem imparts three diverse meanings at different depths. Most obviously, the poem commentates on love versus lust. All readers in Shakespeare’s time would comprehend his commentary on the deadly sin. A bit deeper, the sonnet is a literary critique of other sonnets’ embellishment of the woman’s qualities. Finally, most profoundly, Shakespeare’s 130th sonnet tells all readers to love themselves despite their flaws and to accept their attributes which they cannot change. Shakespeare uses literary devices, such as rhyme, rhythm, and comparison, to highlight his ideas. Finally, this poem is superb because of Shakespeare’s veiled allusions and consistency with sonnet style despite unconventional ideas. While sonnets were fashionable in Shakespeare’s time, this writer’s style took his poem far beyond the trend.