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Women In Shakespeare Writings Essay, Research Paper

Often in literature, parallels are used to accentuate certain things. William

Shakespeare utilizes this tool in both The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer

Night?s Dream. In both of these comedic plays, there is a set of women who are

at odds with each other. These relationships can be compared and contrasted in

different aspects. In Shakespeare’s, "The Taming of the Shrew" the

relationship between the sisters Katherine and Bianca appears to be strained

with rampant jealousy. Both daughters fight for the attentions of their father.

In twisted parallel roles, they take turns being demure and hag-like. Father of

the two, Baptista Minola, fusses with potential suitors for young Bianca and

will not let them come calling until his elder, ill-tempered daughter Katherine

is married. The reader is to assume that meek, mild-mannered, delicate Bianca is

wasting away while her much older, aging, brutish sister torments the family

with her foul tongue. Katherine seems to hold resentment toward Bianca. Her

father favors Bianca over Katherine and keeps them away from eachothers’

torment. When gentlemen come calling, Bianca cowers behind her father and

Katherine speaks up for herself. "I pray you sir, is it your will to make a

stale of me amongst these mates?" (1.1.57-58) Bianca and Katherine dislike

each other feverishly. Katherine torments Bianca with words and physical harm.

She binds her hands, pulls her hair then brings her forth to her father and the

gentlemen callers. Bianca denies liking any of the visitors and portrays herself

an innocent that merely wants to learn and obey her elders. She says,

"Sister, content you in my discontent to your pleasure humbly I subscribe.

My books and instruments shall be my company, on them to look and practise by

myself." (1.1.80-84) Because Katherine speaks freely and asserts herself

she is labeled as "shrewish." When Hortensio describes her to

Petruccio, he spouts that she is "renowned in Padua for her scolding

tongue." ( 1.2.96) He gilds the lily further by explicitly telling of her

fair fortune if suitable man comes courting and wins her hand in marriage.

Petruccio sees dollar signs and rushes forth in grand dress and eloquent

mannerisms to court the gracious "Kate." When he first begins his

ritual of winning the family and Katherine to his love, he is seeking his

fortune in her dowry. The mention of her being at all undesirable does not put

rocks in his path. He speaks of "One rich enough to be Petruccio’s wife, as

wealth is burden of my wooing dance be she as foul as was Florentius’ love, as

old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd as Socrates’ Xanthippe or a worse, she

moves me not or not removes at least affection’s edge in me, were she as rough

as are the swelling Adriatic Seas." (1.2.65-71) Petruccio comes calling for

the older sister, and Bianca in turn sneaks about with Lucentio who is dressed

in scholars clothing. They pretend to be working on Latin and fool her father

with disguises and books while romancing the entire time. Katherine is honest in

her words and deeds. She does not wish to be teased or tormented and flees from

Petruccio’s twisted words. Kate and Bianca trade roles at this time and the

dainty, controlled sister is Kate. The bolder, out-spoken Bianca woos her

Lucentio in the courtyard of the Minola home. At the Sunday wedding gathering of

Petruccio and Katherine, the groom grabs the reins of control and demands that

he and his bride leave the festivities before they have begun. He offers Bianca

and Lucentio the bedroom and party that they must leave behind. This symbolizes

the transfer of attitude in the two sisters. Kate has to follow her new husband

out of the home and leaves Bianca free roam over the wedding party. When the

sisters are brought together again, it is at the wedding festivities of Bianca

and Lucentio as well as the Widow and Hortensio. Katherine is called a

"shrew" yet again by the Widow and Bianca flirts openly with Petruccio.

The three new brides leave the dining table and make for the sitting room with

the other women. The three men are left to discussion and after dinner music.

Petruccio offers a wager against the thought that the wives in turn should come

to their husbands when called. The Widow and Bianca are foul and refuse to come

seeking their husbands and throw out the servant both times. When Katherine is

called to come to her husband she does so with grace and quiet obedience. She is

then asked to bring forth the two disobedient wives. During this entire play the

label of "shrew" is misplaced with dear Kate and should be rightfully

placed in the lap of Bianca. Kate brings out the two women and scolds them while

maintaining her own dignity and elegant grace. She shows them that indeed her

husband got the better end of the marriage contract. At this Petruccio kisses

his Kate in front of everyone and they leave the gaping mouths of the crowd. In

Shakespeare?s ?A Midsummer Night?s Dream?, Hermia and Helena?s

relationship changes greatly after the intervention of Puck with the love

potion. Once best friends, they have become each other?s enemies, and all for

the love of Lysander and Demetrius. Hermia and Helena were best friends when

they were at school. ?All school-days? friendship, childhood innocence??

(3. 2. 201) They had complete trust in each other, telling each other their

deepest secrets. ?Is all the counsel that we two have shared, The sisters?

vows, the hours that we have spent,? (3. 2. 198 ? 199) They worked together

on everything they did including sewing and singing. ?Both on one sampler,

sitting on one cushion, Both warbling of one song, both in one key,? (3. 2.

205 ? 206) To some people, Helena and Hermia became the same person, saying

the same things, thinking the same thoughts and having the same morals and

principles. ?As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds Had been

incorporate. So we grew together,? (3. 2. 207-208) Behaving in the same way,

they spent as much time as possible together. This time passed quickly, whilst

the time spent apart was slow and seemed pointless. ?When we have chid the

hasty-footed time For parting us?O, is all forgot?? (3. 2. 200 ? 201,

Helena) Although Helena and Hermia were two separate people, they were, ?a

union in partition?, compared to a double cherry. ?Two lovely berries

moulded on one stem.? (3. 2. 211) Their friendship was so strong that they

seemed to be connected, the same person in two different bodies. ?So with two

seeming bodies, but one heart,? (3. 2. 212) This had lasted all their lives

until the intervention of Lysander and Demetrius. The strong friendship between

Helena and Hermia quickly disintegrated when they became involved with the two

men. The love potion was meant to help, but Puck?s mistake managed to

completely reverse the relationship. When both Demetrius and Lysander were under

the influence of the ?love-in-idleness? flower, Helena believed that both

were mocking her. ?You both are rivals and love Hermia And now both rivals, to

mock Helena.? (3. 2.155 -156) When Hermia seems to take the same attitude,

even though she doesn?t know what?s going on, Helena accuses her of

betraying all women by entering into it. ?Our sex, as well as I, may chide you

for it,? (3. 2. 218) Helena and Hermia quickly enter into a massive argument,

accusing each other of stealing their love. ?You thief of love. What, have you

come by night And stolen my love?s heart from him?? (3. 2. 283 ? 284)

Their childhood friendship is forgotten in an instant, completely torn apart by

the two men. It is not the love potion, which has had this effect on the women

directly; it is the performance of the two men, arguing over Helena who have

caused the break up. This exhibition of feelings upsets and confuses both Helena

and Hermia. Hermia feels cheated, and Helena is the first person she can find to

blame. ?O me, you juggler, you canker-blossom,? (3.2.282) Helena, however,

thinks everything is some kind of cruel trick against her, and remains slightly

calmer than Hermia. ?Lo, she is one of this confederacy. Now I perceive they

have conjoined all three To fashion this false sport in spite of me.? (3.2.192

?194) As she is taller than Hermia, she calls her a ?puppet?. ?Fie, fie,

you counterfeit, you puppet, you!? (3. 2. 288) Hermia takes this insult as

though it is the reason that Lysander doesn?t love her anymore. ?Her height,

forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.? (3.2.293) She goes on to call Helena a

?painted maypole? and is obviously very worked up and angry. ?And with her

personage, her tall personage,? (3 2. 292) Helena is afraid of what Hermia

might do to her, and Hermia is not short of threats in her vicious mood. ?How

low am I? I am not yet so low, But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.?

(3. 2. 297 ? 298) Helena does not want to fall out and does not understand why

their past was so quickly forgotten. ?Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with

me. I evermore did love you Hermia, Did ever keep your counsels, never wronged

you ? (3. 2. 306 ? 308) Hermia, however, feels hard done by. She feels that

Helena has caused her true love to turn against her, and if Helena disappeared,

everything would be fine. ?Why, get you gone. Who is?t that hinders you??

(3. 2. 317) Helena also has the solution of running away, but can?t as she

foolishly still loves Demetrius. Helena and Hermia?s relationship has changed

completely, entirely because of the effect of the love potion on Lysander and

Demetrius. The friendship shown before the argument contrasts greatly to the

hostility afterwards. The change has been for the worse, completely destroying

the women?s trust in each other, and all because of a fight between two men,

caused by a mischievous spirit.


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