Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/2291
This essay compares some of Shakespeare's female characters to their equivalents in the sources from which the plays are drawn. It tries to provide answers to the following questions: how did he adapt the characters from the sources for his plays; how did he choose to represent them; how do his female characters compare with images of women at the time?
The essay is divided into three main parts. Firstly, it looks at women in early modern England, their role and position in society and the various misogynist attitudes of the day. In doing so, it examines the patriarchal system which repressed women and dominated English society at the time despite the country having a female monarch.
Secondly, it looks at a few of Shakespeare's female characters and how he adapted or created them for his plays from his sources. It analyses and compares Shakespeare's portrayal of Rosalind (AYL), Cleopatra (Ant.), Portia (JC) and Portia (MV) and compares it with their portrayal in the sources. Finally, it looks at Beatrice (Ado), who was created by Shakespeare. In addition, we look at how Elizabeth I might have had an influence on the creation of these characters.
The conclusion of the essay is that Shakespeare moulded his heroines into extraordinary women, who must have been an inspiration to all women who came to see his plays. Shakespeare's portrayal of these female characters is far more positive and more dignified than their portrayal in the various sources. Taking into account the portrayal of the female characters in the sources and the attitude towards women and their image at the time, it is clear that Shakespeare chose to make his heroines remarkable women.