The Evolving Role of Women

The Evolving Role of Women
By: Namrata Joshi
Definition of Feminism Today
• The doctorine advocating social, political,
and all other rights of women equal to
those of men.
• According to
• Thesis: As time has progressed, so has
society’s view of women as indicated by
the steady shift in literature.
The Service for Representing
• Prime example of what women were
thought to be in the Medieval Period
• Adam blames Eve
• He is portrayed as stronger and her
• He portrays himself as Eve’s “partner and
stronger than [she]” (44).
• Adam says, “Through you I am dead, thus
I have lost life” (541).
• Figure says to Adam, “Born of you, she is
no stranger” (18).
• In this irony, the male view of women in
the Medieval Period is seen
• Eve is known throughout history as the
woman who has lead man to fault, yet she
was created from him
• If Adam is seen as stronger than Eve, why
cant he resist temptation on his own?
The Renaissance
• Characteristics of the Renaissance
Be Lecherous
Needing control by a man
Overly Sexual
Serve Men
Good at running a household
Some were educated at
lower levels
The Duchess of Malfi
• Callous brothers try to control her
• She rules over her dutchi without the aid of
a man, commanding respect
Rules even after her secret marriage to
• Compared to Elizabeth I
– Never married
– Not lost behind the name of a man
• The Duchess rules over her people while
balancing a family efficiently
• She stands against the dominant male
figures, ultimately doing what makes her
• She announces, “I am the Duchess of
– She is a sum of the parts
– In spite of the trials and tribulations she
endures, she proves her strength
Elizabeth Oakes
• “The Duchess of Malfi as a Tragedy of
• “In this play, the Duchess comports herself
in a way that is congruent with society’s
• Her brother, Ferdinand does not want her
to remarry for his own personal reasons
– “He, not her society is condeming her to a life
of solitude.”
– The widows economic power empowers her
and allows her to make her own choices.
• Society forces her situation upon her, but
she overcomes it
• “What fortune I have, I have it from my
[deceased] husband and a widow is free.”
The Duchess values her own power and this is
• Brilliant playwright for his time
• While women were still viewed as inferior,
he satirizes society by giving women in his
plays key, influential roles.
Titus Andronicus
• Lavinia- one of the most gruesome images
• “Her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out,
and ravished” (2.4)
• Shakespeare shows the lengths people
will go through to avenge the wrong
doings of those they love
• Tamora, Queen of the Goth is forced by
Titus to marry
• She seeks revenge and thus Lavinia is
• The two women in the play ultimatley control
what happens to the other characters
• Cause and Effect set up
– Wrong doings done to Titus and his family
– How he obtains revenge
• Titus’ plans for revenge fueled by his mutilated
daughter and the crimes against her
– He becomes more enraged every time he sees her
• Had Tamora not injured Titus’ family, he would
not have had to plot revenge through a counter
– Ex: Serving her sons body to her
• Titus was a noble man who became consumed
with obtaining revenge
• The women mirror this when they each undergo
their own metamorphosis
– Tamora refuses to hear Lavinias plea
– Lavinia is so enraged at Tamora’s sons that she
temporarily becomes insane until she can reveal who
hurt her
• The women are vital even though it is not
blatantly obvious
• Comedy of Errors
– Slapstick humor
– Also unbelievable
– The twins are
– Comedy
• Titus Andronicus
– Gruesome
– Shocking
– Women are
significant and
– Tragedy
The Comedy of Errors
– Wife of Antipholus of
• Believes women should
NOT be at a man’s
• Women are self thinking
• Women are independent
• “This fool begged
patience in thee will be
left” (2.1 41)
• Finds her sister ridiculous
and naiive
– Unmarried
• Believes women
SHOULD be at a man’s
• Women should be
• Women’s role is as
inferior to men and that is
their purpose
• Men are “masters to their
females, and their lords”
(2.1 24-25).
• Submissive obedience to
men even if they cheat
– The women are twins yet their ideas
drastically differ
– This is illustrated in Act II
• Adriana is angrily waiting for her husband’s arrival
for dinner
• Luciana believevs Adriana should patiently wait
because “a man is a master of liberty; time is their
master, and when they see time they’ll go or come”
(2.1 7-9).
• Adriana rebuttals by asking, “Why should their
liberty than ours be more” (2.1 10).
• If the women’s thinking was a product
of their upbringing (society), they
would have the same views
• Women indicate a shift in thinking
– One is the stereotypical woman who
was there to serve men
– The other is the more powerful, new age
woman who is capable of anything