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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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