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Inhaltsangabe:Abstract: Was Shakespeare a misogynist ? Or was he, on the contrary, an early advocate of female equality ? Were his plays manifests of patriarchy, of the dominance of men over women and of typical stereotypes ? Or were they, like other critics have argued, just the opposite? Was he a "feminist in sympathy", as Juliet Dusinberre has argued, or was he the patriarchal bard many others see in him ? In how far were his views about the sexes influenced by the conceptions of gender in the Elizabethan time - and did he support, question or even reject them ? These were the questions I had in mind when I started working on this thesis paper. After dealing with both Shakespeare and feminism in the course of my studies, an evaluation of Shakespeare's attitude towards women seemed very interesting. The attraction that Shakespeare combined with feminism has, and the necessity of such criticism, has often been discussed. The following quote is rather long, but perfectly expresses my own interest in the topic. "Feminist critics of Shakespeare must use the strategies and insights of this new criticism selectively, for they examine a male dramatist of extraordinary range writing in a remote period when women's position was in obvious ways more restricted and less disputed than our own. Acknowledging this, feminist critics also recognize that the greatest artists do not necessarily duplicate in their art the orthodoxies of their culture; they may exploit them to create character or intensify conflict; they may struggle with, criticise or transcend them. Shakespeare, it would seem, encompasses more and preaches less than most authors; hence the centuries-old controversy over his religious affiliation, political views, and sexual preferences. His attitudes towards women are equally complex and demand attention." The fact that all major female characters have to die in Hamlet as well as in Othello is what first brought me to assess these two plays. I believe that even without an in-depth analysis of the plays the excessive murdering of women shows that Shakespeare's attitude towards them is in some way troubled. I was worried that this would be too trivial a starting point, but other critics have had the same idea: "And, as has been noted, the women in the tragedies almost invariably are destroyed, or are absent from the new order consolidated at the conclusions." The more I dealt with this vast topic, however, the more complicated it became. The [...]
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