Love's Labor's Lost is an early comedy that was written by William Shakespeare. It was written in between 1588 to 1597 and later it was published in 1598 in a folio edition. It was written to be performed before Queen Elizabeth at the court of Inns. The comedy play was about a King named Navarre with his three allies Dumaine, Longaville and Berowne where they planned to distance themselves from all kinds of distractions especially the women when they were studying for three years. In Shakespeare's plays, women had important roles and even sometimes acted as leaders. Whether they caused disagreements in the plays or if they create fascinating cultural and moral queries, they have been causing challenging conditions. According to Thomas in the 16th-century, women were not allowed to vote and in case of inheritance, they not allowed to inherit anything instead the males in the family were the ones who took over the possessions that were being inherited. The women from aristocratic families were not allowed to inherit property but they were entitled to becoming the heiress of the family belongings.
In the plays of Shakespeare, women are mostly underestimated because their social roles restrict them. Love's Labor's Lost play is reported to be the most feminist act. It portrays women as the most ethical while men are the genuine characters of the play. In the article "convention, contraventions and convents", written by Jeanne Addison Roberts, it says that aristocratic ladies are only seen in three scenes. In his plays about women, Shakespeare presents the role of women in society and how he feels about women. Shakespeare says that men had more roles than women in the 16th centuries. The major role of women in Shakespeare's was to move the plot forward. As the drama unfolds, the women the catalysts in Shakespeare's tragedies especially where the actions of women determined the reactions of other characters.
Shakespeare treated the women in power with distrust; This is because they have more desire for power so that they can surpass and oppress the men that live with them. The most recognized women in Shakespeare's tragedies are Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear. These ladies are illustrated as loves of kings, mothers, wives, princess, and daughters. The loves of the main character in Hamlet were Gertrude and Ophelia where one was someone he wished to take as a wife and the other was his mother. Gertrude was the wife to Hamlet and due to her greediness, she murdered Hamlet's brother so that she could inherit all the property that he had. During the 16th centuries, women were not allowed to inherit their husband's property if the brother of their husband was still alive. This is why Gertrude killed her husband's brother. Gertrude's role described how women were judged at that time. Hamlet was angry because he accused his mother of having incest at that time. He even quoted that his mother even felt guilty to perform work because of her bad behavior.
In that time women cheating on their husbands was seen as an abomination and in Hamlet's quote, Gertrude is seen as the other women because her issues suggest the first marriage of Henry VII, to Catherine and Argon. This is clearly seen whereby Shakespeare had characterized seven types of women. In this character, Shakespeare says that women are sometimes accused wrongly of committing and adultery and this leads them to suffer seriously as an outcome.
Cohen clearly explains that the older brother of Henry VII had married Catherine but he later died and Henry VII remarried Catherine and this is seen as a sin in the standards of the Catholic Church. Due to that, Gertrude is connected to how women are viewed at that time while Ophelia is seen as a woman who is ahead of her time intervals. Ophelia was seen as an ideal woman because she followed the paradigm of her time but that changed after her father passed away and she started to disobey them. This can be evidently seen when Ophelia talks to each person with a flower. She tells them that she would give them violets but they all diminished when her father died.
In Shakespeare's comedy (Much Ado About Nothing) ladies are determined by their sexual behaviors if they remain loyal to their spouses and their future husbands. For example, when Othello kills Desdemona assumes her act of being unfaithful but Hero falls extremely sick and Claudio falsely accuses her. The other couple is Beatrice and Benedick, where Beatrice is a dynamic woman who understands the characters of women in the era of Elizabeth time. Beatrice says that she can better die a grieving woman than living with a man who is always wishing and he is not accomplishing his wishes. Even though Beatrice accepts this character, she declined to be dominated by a man.
According to Shakespeare's plays, the wedded off women ended up as desirable women where they were re-married and they were made safe. These women are most probably young and they are passed to the care of their new spouses from their father's observance. In the show of Romeo and Juliet, women are considered as the fragile vessels and they are always pushed to the wall. This is because they are characterized by flirtatious, impertinent and sexualized behaviors as it is stated in the indecent woman.
In another play that is known as Twelfth Night, women take the roles of men by pretending to be them. This is seen where Shakespeare says that in seven female characteristics, some women are seen as dressing as men. Therefore, these women able to act a sprightlier in the comedy's narrative. Shakespeare had the trust that women were equal and they were supposed to be treated the same way. In this play, there is a lady named Olivia who refused to marry a well-known nobleman from Illyria whose name was Orsino because she was mourning about a current demise in their background.
In the Elizabethans, women believed that they should not speak in public. The reason why they were denied freedom of speech is that men feared that the wit of the women could appear more superior than theirs and this would end up confusing the social hierarchy. For instance, in the scene of Rosalind, it is stated that no matter how men try to subdue a ladies' intelligence, she will find a way to express her wits. For example, Gertrude lured her husband and she later killed her husband's brother so that she could inherit the possessions of her husband. In the book of "what every woman knows" we see that Kate breaks out of the stereotypical shrew and she outsmarts the society and she ends up gaining self-respect. Other than men who use dictatorship to gain self-respect. A woman can flirtatious to seduce a man so that she can take his position in the hierarchy. In "Othello" people wondered what was Carol Nelly doing with such a fool.
Kadyan, Priyanka, and Ramandeep Mahal. "Feminism and Gender Equality in the plays of Shakespeare." JELLY (International Journal of English Language, Literature in Humanities) 7.2 (2019): 12-12.
Rackin, Phyllis. "Anti-Historians: Women's Roles in Shakespeare's Histories." Theatre Journal 37.3 (1985): 329-344.
Shapiro, Michael. Gender in play on the Shakespearean stage: boy heroines and female pages. University of Michigan Press, 1996.
Shakespeare, William. Much ado about nothing. Vol. 2. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Bamber, Linda. Comic Women, Tragic Men: Study of Gender and Genre in Shakespeare. Stanford University Press, 1982.
Ryan, Kiernan. Shakespeare's comedies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
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