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A comparison of Shakespeare and Cervantes

A comparison of Shakespeare and Cervantes - Chris Bostick...

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Chris Bostick Essay 5/7/2009 Final Paper The Difference in the Roles of Women in Shakespeare and Cervantes In the times of Shakespeare and Cervantes, women were held in a low social standing in society, and were subservient to men. Their traditional place involved not speaking out and always being obedient to men. Both authors created satirical works involving the customs of their time, mocking traditional values. Also in both of their comedies there is often a marriage plot where you find many characters matched up, seemingly to obtain a happier ending. This is evident in Shakespeare plays, such as Twelfth Night where only Antonio and Malvolio end up truly unhappy, and in almost every Cervantes comedy. However, while reading the works of Shakespeare and Cervantes you can see a difference in the representation of the role of women. Examining them it is evident that Shakespeare was the more liberated writer of his time, giving his female characters strong parts, while Cervantes held his stories to the status quo, keeping women in the role society held them. Looking at Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew , we are introduced to Katherine who busts out of all typical societal conceptions of women. She speaks on the same intelligence level as the male characters, and she insults them, which was an inconceivable action during the time period. She openly refutes her father’s wedding choices without hesitation saying, “I pray you, sir, is it your will/to make a stale of me amongst these mates” (Act I.I 57-58). Even more so, her overall role in the play constantly suggests her equality with the male characters. Although she is supposedly tamed by her male counterpart in the story, Petruchio, she still keeps her quick tongue intact. The fact that the play shows such a dominant presence in the form of a female character supports the argument that Shakespeare created his females without molding
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Chris Bostick Essay 5/7/2009 Final Paper them to the norms of society. Instead he uses the play to create a defiant model of equality between women and men. He does this by modeling Katherine to be strong willed and outspoken, the antipodal of the ideal woman of the time period. Analyzing the play a thoughtful critic might say that in the end Katherine does submit by marrying Petruchio, and that her ending speech surrenders to male supremacy. However if you examine the speech you see that she is only playing the part of the submissive wife. Looking at Katherine’s words you can see the blatant sarcasm when she says, “And place your hands below your husband’s foot/ In token of which duty, if he please/ My hand is ready, may it do him ease” (Act V.II 176-178). Charles Frey describes these strong women saying, “Such women manage to assert themselves, however in spite of the odds against them, as heroic exceptions to the more general rule of depressing male domination” (126). Hence Frey is illustrating how Shakespeare creatively manipulates male dominance with heroic females against the oppressive traditions against women.
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A comparison of Shakespeare and Cervantes - Chris Bostick...

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