Whatever Shakespeare might object to, the amount of male glorification and female degradation that he has done would last a life time for humans on this earth.
He has really not been fair in his portrayal of women particularly. For a guy who makes for a lot of curriculum of literature students, he sure was not a visionary. His creativity has always been questionable to me and his prestige in the world of literature has been doubtful as well to me.
But let’s take this apart properly because I really have been considering claiming back my time that I spent poring over his work just in the hopes of becoming a literary person.
1. Romeo and Juliet:
Let’s start with a story of undying love and passion.
First of all this story makes the wandering eye an okay phenomenon to have. So what if one girl isn’t available? There’s another one at a party (who’s prettier) where the boy is actually crashing gate.
So what if we have made “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” a colloquialism to call people ugly in a socially acceptable way? That’s the newest slur that women use against the women their sons and brothers choose without much consultation with their moms and sisters.
“What did he see in her?”
“Who knows? You know how they say that beauty’s in the eyes of the beholder. May be he sees something. I agree with you though ! If truth be told she wasn’t someone I had in mind for him.”
Notice how no one mentions anything about the guy in question. He’s above all scrutiny.
2. Taming of the Shrew:
Well if this play isn’t misogyny at its worst then what is?
It is about a marriage that happens purely for the sake of winning a wager. It is a marriage that comes with the principle of taming a strong-willed woman. It is a marriage that makes constant comparisons with the said woman’s sister. Need I say more?
Shakespeare was a misogynist and a nasty patriarch to boot. He never wrote anything with a woman-centric theme. His protagonists have been men. Interestingly, his protagonists uniformly have been heterosexual men with heteronormative ways. They like to hang with women, bring women down to their knees and make women submit. It’s crass and unethical but is it unlawful too now? Yes. Everything that is described in this particular play constitutes domestic violence in today’s world.
The play emphasizes how a husband forced his wife into submission by holding food, misinterpreting her words, misconstruing her motives. He challenges her integrity and her personality to the point that when she sees her parents after her wedding they can’t even recognize her. Sound familiar? I knew many of you have met such ass holes who gaslight on the fly.
But that’s not even the top layer of the nasty gelatinized crap that Shakespeare has written in this play. He has actually gone so far as to describe the quintessentially “ideal” woman. And this woman is none other than Katherine’s sister, Bianca.
Bianca is nice to all male suitors. So she’s basically a woman with no specific taste which is okay but nothing to celebrate.
She is also not allowed to be courted until her sister gets married. Why are Pakistanis the only people blamed for insisting to get their older daughters married first? British brought a lot of conservatism with them to Southeast Asia.
Also, Katherine’s dad is willing to pay anyone handsomely who “takes his bad-tempered daughter off his hands”. Dowry is a curse only when brown people do it. Otherwise pimping your daughter off to the highest bidder and then putting a nice bow on the whole deal by getting the state and church’s approval is totally ethical. Wow! Insert a profanity here and put it on my tab.
But this isn’t about Macbeth so patriarchs can untwist their undies and unclench their fists at my nerve for addressing their beloved “He was influenced by a woman” character. This one is about Lady Macbeth.
The fact that there is more analysis of Lady Macbeth compared to poor Macbeth is testimony to how controversial this character and its aura is.
Lady Macbeth has been subtly held accountable for the murder of Duncan, King of Scotland. There is just enough evidence to make Macbeth a loyal servant who was just very impressionable. Not many genealogists or historians argue why it took just one prophecy for a man of Macbeth’s stature to be swayed by a woman who wasn’t even such a favorite of him. They weren’t great bed partners as per historical evidence as it is widely believed that Lady Macbeth wanted to practice witchcraft and could actually be passable as a small-time witch herself. For those who were born yesterday and are reading this as their initiation to uninspiring literature, being a witch in the past was like being a convicted murdered now. They were considered unanimously bad. They were anti-norm and lived their life like they pleased. Some feminists have been persecuted because of purported relationships with witches by ancestry.
But that’s not the only insult that Shakespeare reserves for Lady Macbeth and in general most of his female characters.
He actually makes her the mind behind most of the atrocious things that Macbeth did as King of Scotland. She urged him to kill Duncan which according to Shakespeare “unleashed the beast within”.
I don’t know about you but this is the patriarchal rape theory that has been going around these days. These rape apologists are a dime a dozen. “She provoked him and then he became a serial rapist”. Nah! Too flawed for my taste.
What Macbeth lacks in character is all because of Lady Macbeth. He’s not expected to be loyal to Duncan by default. And how could he be loyal to him? He’s an impressionable general in his large army. He can be easily persuaded to commit the murder of his dear friend and the king. And then many more that he didn’t consult his wife for so his throne could be secure. But because the regicide was the sentinel event she is to be blamed for that and for all ensuing murders. Pretty much how it is to this day. No accountability! No responsibility! No sense of what’s right! No love for humanity! None of that is necessary for men. They cheat because hookers lure them. They commit fraud because their wives ask for nice things. They are distant emotionally from others because their mothers raised them this way. We owe so much to patriarchy that the debt won’t ever get paid.
Feel free to add. This could’ve been a book but I don’t want to write another piece of uninspiring hot mess for the people in the future to consider “literature”.
I knew you’d like it haha. He truly set the tone for a lot of literature and I’m glad some still deviated.
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Couldn’t agree more. Great analysis.
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Thank you Annum
What a comparative study, dear. Agreed to the vibe that his protagonists are always male characters, degradation of women is sketched in his plays. Literature is much more than Shakespeare’s plays, he got the fame and more rating than others, petriarchial and male chauvinist society can be the reason, we are still having.
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