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How are women presented in Twelfth Night?

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Evie Lunn

on 16 July 2015

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Transcript of How are women presented in Twelfth Night?

How are women presented in Twelfth Night?
Women in Elizabethan times...
It is well known that women did not enjoy political, economic, or social parity with men during Shakespeare’s time and this historical reality is important to keep in mind when analyzing the variety of female characters in the plays of Shakespeare. In this Shakespearean society, it was men who held exclusively authority and power, and men who possessed the influence to direct the outcome of events.
Women were seen more as male possessions - an object who's sole obligation was to produce a son and heir. They were seen as unintelligent and incapable of doing anything that a man could do.
Women in Shakespeare...
However, there is a curious trend in many of Shakespeare’s plays: many of Shakespeare’s female characters exercise a subtle forms of power and influence, and often do so in unusual ways that challenge traditional gender roles. Although the male characters generally fail to notice or refuse to acknowledge women’s authority and influence openly, they are affected by it. Women are often the main motivators of action as well as some of the most complex characters overall.
Is this the origins of feminism?
As it was the 'period of change', this play could have been written to change people's ideas of females and males in general. Since the olden days, women have always been viewed as emotional, irrational, petty people, and when compared to the men, not as able and capable. In the play Twelfth Night, there are many different characters, both male and female, and even a female in the disguise of male.
Twelfth Night IS a feminist play...
Olivia manages her own estate, it would otherwise be controlled by a close male relative or husband.

Even though Viola is dressing as a man in order to do what she wants to do which shows her willpower she is still under the impression that women are more susceptible to love and weakness this shows that she still believes in the structure of 'normal' society.
Act 2, Scene 2 - 'in women's waxen hearts to set their forms! Alas, our fragility is the cause'
Twelfth Night ISN'T a feminist play
Feminism then and now...
HeforShe
Campaign
To conclude...
Act 1, Scene 3 - Maria speaks in verse whereas Sir Toby and Sir Andrew speak in prose. This shows the fact that even in a lower class and of a certain sex, many can be more intelligent than those of an upper class. She also appears to be more level headed and mature.

We think that in a twelfth night Shakespeare wanted to put forward his feminist ideas by creating strong female characters however he did not want to be seen as an outcast or to be challenging his society therefore he concluded the play with both strong female characters, Viola and Olivia, marrying men thus turning themselves into ideal 'seen and not heard' wives. This shows that in Shakespeare's time the masculine population was treated with more respect and more powerful than the women who were supposed to be not seen as powerful or thought of as clever as their male counterparts.
Emma Watson's 'HeforShe' Campaign!

Emma Watson aims for women and men to have a voice towards gender equality and to stop gender stereotypes.
Famous celebrities help raise the awareness of the campaign:
Douglas Booth
Eddy Redmayne
David Tennant
Chloë Grace Moretz
Kate Nash
Paloma Faith
Tom Hiddleston
Ellie Goulding
... and lots more!
Celebs'
Tweets
Olivia manages her own estate, it would otherwise be controlled by a close male relative or husband.
Even though Viola is dressing as a man in order to do what she wants to do which shows her willpower she is still under the impression that women are more susceptible to love and weakness this shows that she still believes in the structure of 'normal' society. - Act 2, Scene 2 - 'in women's waxen hearts to set their forms! Alas, our fragility is the cause'
Olivia marries a man she didn't fall in love with, Sebastian, whom she signs away her estate to.
They both then marry therefore trapping themselves back into the 'normal' 17th and 18th century society and allowing themselves to be controlled by men. This shows that although Shakespeare had some controversial strong female characters they, more often than not, were eventually quieted by marrying this essentially says that women can do some of the things they want to do however to be happy they must eventually marry a man.
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