Theme Of Feminism In The Merchant Of Venice

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The Feminine Mind Created by William Shakespeare: Feminism in The Merchant of Venice There’s a surprising amount of classic literature that pass the Bechdel test; Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Charlotte Brontё’s Jane Eyre, and William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (depending on how one interprets Nerissa and Portia’s conversation about candlelight and music (V. I. 98-119)) all manage to meet the three requirements. Created by Alison Bechdel, the test’s rules are simple: there must be at least two women who talk about something other than a man. However, it would be rash to assume all works that pass are feminist masterpieces. Dracula strays far from the feminist ideal, painting Mina Murray, the fiancée of main character Jonathan Harker, as the “ideal” woman based off her role as an obedient wife and as a figure of purity. Jane Eyre shows a better portrayal of women, exploring Jane’s female relationships and providing a variety of characters that don’t quite fall into typical tropes, such as the pure maiden or the old hag. The Merchant of Venice proves to be more complicated; although Shakespeare often acknowledges the Elizabethan expectations for women, that they be docile and submissive, he rarely challenges societal norms in a way that inspires drastic changes, both inside his writing and outside in the real world. However, by writing realistic and fully human characters, Shakespeare created unique and varied women in his plays, which was a progressive act in and of
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