He Becomes She: Acting in Shakespearean Plays Shakespeare capitalizes on the power of women, their varying personalities, and the men who played these female roles. A law barring women from the stage caused Shakespeare to use men to add strength to his female characters. Because of this law, men acted the roles of women, and women disguise themselves as men to have the power to perform. Men who portrayed women played unique roles in Shakespeare’s plays. According to Bardstage, “the acting profession was not a credible one and it was unthinkable that any woman would appear in a play.” A law required men to play the role of women.
Her stated aim was to prove that Shakespeare often portrayed women in more liberal and feminist ways, particularly within his time period. A more liberal woman might be depicted as well-rounded, interesting, and non-traditional in responses and mannerisms. However, Patil notes that most female characters that play a role in Shakespeare’s comedies take on more submissive and conventional roles. Rajani S. Patil’s article makes some interesting arguments, however, her conclusion contradicts her stated purpose, and she fails to present the deeper realities of Hermia, and takes too harsh of a stance on Helena’s character. It is these aspects of her writing that lead to a missed goal and a discredited purpose.
Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, focuses on the tumultuous events that surround a regicide. Despite being the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays, in his critical study of the play A. C. Bradley concludes that due to its vehement nature the audience is left with an impression “not of brevity but of speed” . The principal female character of Lady Macbeth is arguably one of his most contentious. Consumed with intense passion, ambition and greed she challenges the subservient role of the traditional Elizabethan woman. She has disturbed, horrified and intrigued both contemporary and modern audiences alike through her powerful diction.
1.1 Juxta-position - The act of placing two or more things side by side often to compare or contrast or create an interesting effect. Anachronism - An error in chronology; especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects or customs in regard to each other. Inter-textuality - The complex interrelationship between a text and other texts taken as basic to the creation or interpretation of the text. Allusion - An implied or indirect reference especially in literature. Feminism – The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
Henrik Ibsen’s A Dolls House is “one of the greatest scandals in literary history” (4). Once it was performed in Copenhagen in 1879, critics and audience members seemed to misunderstand whether it was a feminist or anti-feminist play (2). The patriarchal society during the 19th century valued masculinity; therefore Nora’s decision to leave her husband aroused emotion. The first appearance of the book reflects the theme of women’s liberty, although Ibsen manipulates control within this play having it really be a tragedy. Thus it creates an understanding to why the play is “no more about women’s rights than Shakespeare’s Richard II is about the divine right of kings”(3).
The aspect of gender performance is more apparent in drag shows because drug cannot be assigned to a “singular identity”, by displaying transgressive identities drag “reflects on the imitative structure of gender ” disclaiming and mocking heterosexuality´s views of “naturalness and originality” Butler, Bodies that Matter, 1993). The movie pink
Robert Frost’s Birches centralizes on the tension between reality and ideals. Thematically, there is a struggle as to whether or not it is possible, and more importantly, reasonable to escape life. For this reason the text can be interpreted in terms of two opposing readers: Type A and Type B personalities. It is commonly understood that the majority of people have mixed personality types; however, in order to have an effective analysis it is important to isolate the characteristics of the both. By taking on these extremes one could argue that the tension between the personalities reflects the tension between reality and ideal pair Reality with Type A personality and Ideals with Type B personality.
A fully developed professional theatre that emerged in England in the 1580s had a “profound effect on the ways the gendered body was staged” (Michael Billing, 16). Early modern constructions of the gendered body were “viewed as along a continuum” moving in one direction or the other (Will Fisher, 6). This idea can suggest the performativity of gender rather than its ontological core on the early modern stage. Shakespeare’s comedies may suggest that masculinity on the stage is like “a suit of clothes” that could be put on or taken off at will (Bruce R. Smith, 3). While dramatists of this period question the validity of female stereotypes .
As Ruth Wodak suggests “[…] the complex approach advocated by proponents of CL and CDA makes it possible to analyse pressures from above and possibilities of resistance to unequal power relationships that appear as societal conventions (Wodak and Meyer, eds. 2001:
In this way, this translation procedure not only adds the necessary information but, at the same time, also intensifies the focus on the fact that the referent is a female. Therefore, an apparently 'innocent' supply of information may distort the text in a way that was not intended. Seen from an ideological perspective, the English reader in this case might interpret the stanza to be more related with 'women's matters' or even 'feminism' than was originally intended. (p. 27) According to Nissen (2002), similar problems may occur in many other cases, in fact, everywhere where the source language, by means of agreement structures, operates differently from the target language, which is in connection with noun-modifications, pronoun uses, pronominal references, and so forth. Likewise, Romaine (1999) presents another example for difficulties that the grammatical gender may cause translators.