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An investigation of the engagement of grade 12 students with a feminist reading of Romeo and Juliet Jones, Sylvia 1993

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An Investigation of the Engagementof Grade 12 Students with a FeministReading of Romeo and JulietbySylvia JonesCertificate of Education, University of Leeds, 1967B.A., Open University, 1976A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREEE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of EducationWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch 1993© Sylvia Jones, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of^NThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThe study analyses the patterns of engagement of grade twelve students when theyare taught a feminist critique of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Usingreader-response pedagogy in a classroom context of constructivism, the studentsattempted a feminist reading of the play. Their discussions, journals, essays andpresentations were analysed, together with three questionnaires. Three patterns ofengagement were discerned: conventional, feminist and inconsistent. Individualstudents showed all three patterns of engagement during the study. A conventionalpattern of engagement was a response to the text which excluded any of thefeminist critique. When students exhibited this pattern of engagement, they eitherdid not see the feminism or rejected it. A feminist pattern of engagement wasdefined by an articulation of the feminist critique of Romeo and Juliet. Some ofthe characteristics of this engagement pattern were a sense of conviction about thecritique and connections made between the critique and other aspects of life. Aninconsistent pattern of engagement included some principles of feminist critiquebut not consistently, so that elements of the conventional pattern of engagementwere also observed. Most students moved from a conventional pattern to afeminist or inconsistent pattern by the end of the study. In analysing theseengagement patterns, it was found that when students engaged in a feministpattern, they made a resistant reading of the text. It was also found that reader-response alone was not effective in producing this resistant reading. The studentsneeded to be directed to the critique. Belief in an authoritative reading contributedto a conventional pattern of engagement. Attitudes towards feminism alsoinfluenced the pattern of engagement. The study raised the question of how toteach students to read resistantly so they become aware of the socially constructedmeaning of the text.Table of ContentsAkt-ymi^ IChapter 1: Introduction ^  1Chapter 2: Review of the Literature ^  52.1 Curriculum initiatives  52.2 Critical theory and reading research as it informs feministreadings ^  82.3 Feminist literary criticism of Shakespeare ^ 13Chapter 3: Method  273.1 Description of procedures ^  273.2 The context of the study  343.2.1 The school context  343.2.2 The student context  343.2.3 The teaching context: the material ^ 373.2.4 The teaching context: the teacher and the teaching^393.2.5 The teacher as part of the context  43Chapter 4: Results ^  444.1 Conventional pattern of engagement ^  464.1.1 Belief in an authoritative reading  464.1.2 Belief in a feminist critique as a biased reading^484.1.3 Involved conventional pattern of engagement ^ 484.1.3.1 Omission in conventional engagement ^ 494.1.3.2 Development of an alternative critique . . . ^ 514.1.3.3 Engaging in argument against the feministcritique ^  564.1.4 Uninvolved  584.2 The feminist pattern of engagement^  614.2.1 Positive responses in the first questionnaire ^ 624.2.2 A reading of Juliet as a strong and rebellious girlwith whom they could identify ^ 634.2.3 Response to the social construction of genderembedded within the feminist critique ^ 654.2.4 The construction of connections between thefeminist critique and modern issues  704.2.5 Responses which raise questions about literarycriticism ^  744.3 Inconsistent pattern of engagement ^  764.3.1 Feminist analysis coexisting with conventionalanalysis  774.3.2 Inconsistency between responses made to the textand opinions expressed in interviews ^ 82Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusion ^  87Bibliography ^  102Appendices  106ivChapter 1: IntroductionThe study is an attempt to find out what happens when a grade twelveEnglish class is introduced to a feminist literary critical analysis of Romeo andJuliet by William Shakespeare. This particular play, Romeo and Juliet, waschosen because it is so widely read in high school (Applebee, 1990) and itdramatises themes of love and coming of age which are close to the hearts ofyoung people. Feminist literary criticism is an area of scholarship which hasgrown in eminence in the last twenty years, both in North America and Europe.In fact, in the United States, feminist analyses of Shakespearean texts have beenthe most widespread form of Shakespearean criticism since 1980 (Cohen, 1987 p.22). This scholarly interest in feminist literary criticism in universities has notbeen reflected by a similar interest in high schools and so this study is an attemptto find out how feminist criticism works with high school students. Implicitin a feminist analysis is a view of how texts mean and how we read. The notionof different readings is one not often addressed in schools. It is one not oftenaddressed in society as a whole. Recently, the British Secretary of State forEducation was reported to have said that he wanted every British fourteen year old1to read Romeo and Juliet because this represented a cultural achievement and theplay would enhance their moral development (Guardian, 2nd July 1992). Thereis here an assumption about the meaning of the text as imparter of known andagreed upon cultural messages. This assumption has been challenged recently incultural studies and literary theory. Out of this work has grown the notion ofgender as a factor in textual meaning and this in turn has influenced feministliterary criticism. The study will explore how the students read this play and whatsense they make of the idea of different readings and of the notion of gender.The particular critique used to introduce the students to feminist criticismis The Fearful Passage: Romeo and Juliet in the High School. A FeministPerspective by John Willinsky and Jim Bedard (1989). This curriculum materialhas already been tried and tested as a teaching unit for this age group. In thisteaching material, the feminist perspective is defined as one which attempts "tounderstand the nature of the literary act as one that inscribes an experience fromwhich gender cannot be extinguished.. .to recover the ways in which women andsexual differences are represented in literature and literary criticism [and] to raisequestions about the dynamics of gender" (pp. 5-6). The authors also make thepoint that feminist criticism is methodologically eclectic (p. 6). A prominentnotion in this critique of the play is the social construction and meaning of genderin everyday life, interpreted through aspects of language, character, action,structure and the play of imagery and themes (p. 11). A consequence of focusingon the play of gender is to bring Juliet to the forefront and show the great price2she paid for her love. Notions of patriarchy and mutuality and the idea of thefeud as a form of socialisation for the young men are introduced in the analysisof the themes. These insights into the play are discussed in some detail in theLiterature Review and in chapter 3, where this curriculum material is discussedas part of the teaching context.The class of eleven girls and sixteen boys were taught the feministanalysis based on The Fearful Passage as part of their grade twelve Englishcourse. They spent six weeks in their time-tabled English classes reading,viewing, discussing and writing about the play and the ideas they were introducedto in the feminist critique. A more detailed account of their activities is providedin chapter 3. Evidence of their patterns of engaging with the text was collectedin the form of tape recordings, written material and presentations. In addition tothis, three questionnaires were administered at intervals during the course of study.These asked the students questions about attitudes to studying the critique, the wayit was taught, and what they believed a feminist study to be. Much rich dataresulted, too much to be used in this study. Because the study was an attemptto identify patterns in the way students engaged with the critique and not toprovide an account of the engagement of individual students, data selected for usehad to be representative of the patterns of engagement of the whole class with thefeminist critique and not just individual students.Both the themes of the play and feminism itself touch on the mostimportant aspect of our lives, which is the way we relate to each other. By3engaging in an intense reflection of the play's themes, the students will have toexplore their own ideas and feelings about relationships within the paradigm ofgender. The very nature of the subject matter, therefore, involves affective as wellas intellectual considerations and reactions. It is important for educators to know,as far as we can know, what students think and feel about doing a feminist studyas well as what they make of the ideas. As so little has been done in schools inthe feminist area of scholarship, it will also be useful to read of one teacher'sexperience of teaching a feminist critique. The study represents the first time Ihave systematically focused on feminist criticism and the first time I have taughtthe material used in the study. Many teachers who see teaching feminist readingsas a worthwhile enterprise will be in the same position of doing something newin the classroom and, therefore, I hope the account I give of the way the studentsengaged will be of use.4Chapter 2: Review of the LiteratureResearch which informs this study is drawn from pedagogic and literarytheory. The research to be reviewed is curriculum initiatives which examinegender issues in English teaching and feminist Shakespearean literary theory. Inaddition, those aspects of research in critical theory which apply to feministcriticism will also be reviewed.2.1 Curriculum initiativesThe impetus for the introduction of a feminist perspective in the Englishclassroom comes from both societal and academic concerns. On the one side,pressing in on curriculum considerations, is the feminism which is making thecase for a wide range of gender issues to be addressed in school. On the otherside are the new departures in cultural theory and reading research which bringinto question the relationship between texts and readers and how meaning is made.Societal concern with gender issues is made evident by many newinitiatives to address these issues in the schools. The British Columbia Ministryof Education set up a Gender Equity Advisory Committee in 1990. Part of thebrief of this committee is to promote gender equity in respect to the curriculum5and the socio-cultural setting of public education. Many English teachingperiodicals have published articles on the topic of feminist criticism and genderin recent years. The National Association for the Teaching of English (U.K.) setup working parties and conferences to consider the relationship between languageand gender and the meaning it has for students and teachers in the classroom. Thepublication of their papers in Alice in Genderland (1985) speaks to the range ofconcerns that the issues raise. One of the contributors, Elizabeth Barnes, in"Literature and sex bias in the secondary school curriculum" (pp. 45-53) notes thatmost of the books read in the classroom have male protagonists and women areunder-represented as characters. This leaves the girls with no model, other thanmale, with which to construct themselves. Other articles treat the topic morebroadly and identify elements in the hidden curriculum which reinforce the girls'sense of inferiority. The English Centre (London) publication Gender, Materialsfor Discussion (1985) addresses the wider areas of modern media and culturalstudies and how they contribute to the formation of gender stereotypes. In thisteaching material, suggestions are made about how media and cultural studiescould be used to counteract the sexist messages. In the same year, the English Journal (1985) devoted a whole issue to the topic of Women's Studies in highschool and University. Arlene Mehta and Mary Rothschilde outlined aprogramme of women's studies for the high school English teachers whichaddressed patriarchy in sociological, historical and literary terms (p. 26). Norholdspeaks of opportunities for studying gender issues in the teaching of drama as it6"allows us to view our myths" (p. 52). J. Karen Ray says that English teachersshould re-view the canon, re-vision the canon and respond to the canon (p. 54).In The English Quarterly, (1985) Willinsky addressed the issue with a report ofusing feminist criticism through examining fictional heroes and heroines, genderedimagery in poetry, and aspects of feminist criticism in Shakespeare. Corcoran(1990) describes the results of several studies in which teachers have attemptedto heighten students' awareness of the ways texts instruct their readers on how toread them (p. 140). He describes work by Mellor et al. who draw students'attention to the gendered roles set up in a story by Saroyan and in so doing,provoke a reading which is resistant. Corcoran also discusses another study byMellor et al. in which they provide textual framing for a Ray Bradbury storywhich leads the students to a feminist reading of this story (p. 141).These changes and initiatives are driven by literary and cultural scholarshipas well as societal concerns about gender. Willinsky (1991) described thesechanges as a postmodern approach to text which "is to go after ways in whichwriting does not so much mirror or reflect a given reality but how it constitutesthat reality, and how it writes out a response to it" (p. 17). This approach to textneeds some explication as it is at the heart of feminist criticism and underlies whatthe students in this study were asked to do.72.2 Critical theory and reading research as it informs feministreadingsLanguage is no longer regarded as transparent, carrying the thoughts ofthe author through the pen or word processor onto the page and then through theeyes into the mind of the reader. There is no timeless, universal and undistortedmeaning buried in the text. In Critical Practice, (1980) Catherine Belsey explainsit thus by saying that "obvious" meaning in a text is not necessarily so:What seems obvious and natural is not necessarily so, but that, onthe contrary the 'obvious' and the 'natural' are not given butproduced in a specific society by the ways in which that societytalks and thinks about itself and its experience. (p. 3)There is seventy years of scholarship behind Belsey's statement. One of the basicfoundations of this scholarship is Saussurean structuralism, (Saussure, 1978)which established language as a symbol system. As a symbol has to beinterpreted by producer and receiver, there is a disjuncture in the process ofcommunication, depending on how the communication system is used and how itis interpreted. However, Saussure and structuralist theory treated language asobject and ignored its social context. Bakhtin (Voloshinov, 1929) focused on theconcrete utterances of individuals and developed the idea of language beinginherently dialogic. Eagleton (1983) explains this by saying that "language couldonly be grasped in terms of its inevitable orientation to another" (p. 117). Genderis part of the orientation, part of the discourse. The discourse element of languageis further explained : "the (Saussurean) sign was to be seen less as a fixed unit (8like a signal) than as an active component of speech, modified and transformedin meaning by the variable social tones, valuations and connotations it condensedwithin itself in specific social conditions" (p. 117). The meanings carried by thissign are always changing as the linguistic community, such as students in aclassroom, arrives at an understanding of a shared meaning and develops thismeaning. Language, therefore, is a field of ideological contention about meaning,not a monolithic structure. It is against this basic change in the way language isregarded that feminist readings occur.Another basic change in the way that language is seen to communicate alsosupports feminist readings. This change is inextricably associated with the notionof socially constructed meaning, described above. It is the understanding that thetext, through its language and codes, sets up the way in which it can be read.Codes are allusions to shared knowledge embedded in language and textualconventions (Barthes 1970). These codes allow the process of signification to beinvestigated by referring to shared knowledge which enables both reader andwriter to be inscribed within the text (Corcoran, 1990, p. 137). This view of textleads Belsey (1989) to define feminist reading as a process by which the readernotices and deals with this function of the text:A feminist reader sets out to assess how the text invites its readers,as members of a specific culture, to understand what it means to bea woman or a man, and so encourages them to reaffirm orchallenge cultural norms. (p. 1)Therefore, how the text constructs its reading, and how the reader constructs thetext, is at the heart of a feminist reading. Corcoran (1990 p. 37) refers to Giroux9(1983a) who proposes three stances readers can take when confronted with theideology of the text: accommodation, opposition and resistance. According toGiroux, accommodation involves the reader in "accepting the requirements of aparticular discourse convention without questioning how those conventionsprivilege some forms of knowledge at the expense of others" (p. 137). Studentsin school have been encouraged to engage with texts in this way. This kind ofreading leads to the "obvious" reading of Belsey (1980, p. 3), discussed above,and the immasculation of female readers (Schweikart, 1986, p. 26) discussedbelow. It is the reading promoted by Iser's reception theory according to TerryEagleton (1983 p. 79). Eagleton suggests that Iser's theory makes the onlypossible stance a reader can take that of accommodation because, in Eagleton'sview, Iser believes that a reader with strong ideological commitments is unlikelyto be open to the transformative power of literary works. Eagleton goes on to saythis implies that "in order to undergo transformation at the hands of the text, wemust only hold our beliefs provisionally in the first place" (p. 79). This makes thekind of commited feminist readings described by the authorities in this reviewimpossible. It makes the stance of resistance or opposition impossible. The onlystance a reader can take is accommodation. However, it is a model of readingsupported in the pedegogical version of reader-response.Giroux's second stance, Opposition, is disruptive behaviour leading to arefusal to learn the patterns and conventions of a discourse community. Giroux'sResistance stance is to challenge the texts' explicit value system and then "further10with an ideological analysis so as to unmask the hidden catechization performedat more profound levels" (Giroux, 1983a). The implication for a feminist literarystudy outlined here is that students have to avoid ways of reading that lead to"common sense" interpretations of text (Belsay 1980), by becoming aware of theinterpellation of the text (Althusser 1971). This will enable them to read "againstthe grain" and accomplish a feminist reading. In doing this, they would beengaging in a resistant reading (Giroux 1983a). One of the questions implicit inthis study is how the students will read the play in the context of the feministcritique offered in the fearful passage.The act of reading described in Giroux's resistance stance is somewhatdifferent from the reader-response approach to which the participants in the studyare used, and therefore, some attention should be given to this difference. Readerresponse has been seen as a way that students can relate to texts and bring theirown world into the world of the text. As such, it is an excellent way to startdiscussion of a text and give the student some authority in his/her reading. In thesubjective and psychological version of reader-response theory, designated by,Corcoran to be represented in the work of Bleich (1975), the text is seen aspotential embodiments of the reader's "identity theme" in which the readerproduces unique response statements (p. 133). In the transactional versions ofreader response, represented by Iser and Rosenblatt, it is believed that the textcontains within itself sets of instructions for its own realisation. The reader relateshis/her life experience to the features in the text and so "understands" the text.11Objections to this view of reading were described above. It is believed that in thisview of reading, the implied ideological position which the codes and discourseconventions suggest, would go unchallenged.Patrocino Schweickart questions reader-response theory from the stand-point of feminist literary theory in Reading ourselves: towards a feminist theoryof reading (1986). Her objections lead her to propose a view of reading similarto that of a resistant reader proposed by Giroux (1983a) above. According toSchweickart, race, class and gender are left out of conventional reader-responsetheories. In her analysis of reader-response theory and feminism, Schweickartsays that feminist enquiry into the activity of reading should begin with therealization that the literary canon is "androcentric and this has a profoundlydamaging effect on women readers" (p. 25). She quotes Jane Fetterley (1978)who writes that, for a male reader, androcentric literature serves as the meetingground of the personal and the universal. The effect of an androgenic canon onwomen is immasculation (p. 26). A woman has to give up her gender and enterinto the male view of the world in order to enter the world of the story and thisrenders her powerless. One of the ways for a woman to counteract this, accordingto Schweickart, is to become a resisting reader: "the goal of female reading shouldbe to disclose the androcentricity which has customarily passed for universality."(p. 27) She proposes a reading which allows her to realise the authentic universalin the text while being aware of the androcentricity in the text.A woman reader, now a feminist, embarks on a critical analysis ofthe reading process, and she realises that the text has the power to12structure her experience..however, her recognition of the power ofthe text is matched by her awareness of her essential role in theprocess of reading. Without her, the text is nothing - - it is inertand harmless. (p. 33)Schweickart says that women must take control of the reading experience and readthe text as it was not meant to be read. This means the text must be read againstitself. Therefore, the research referred to in this section of the Literature Reviewis making the case for a different way of reading, necessary if a feminist readingis to be possible.2.3 Feminist literary criticism of ShakespeareMy study is specifically concerned with Shakespearean feminist criticismabout which there is a large body of literature. The purpose of reviewing thisliterature in some detail is two-fold. The first is to give an over-view of theextent and complexity of the topic so that the participants' responses can beevaluated as a small and inexperienced part of this scholarly enterprise. Theirefforts can be situated in a much greater whole. The second reason is to supportand illuminate the critique found in The Fearful Passage  (Willinsky, J. & BedardJ. 1989). This was the teaching material used in the classroom and it was thisfeminist reading that was taught to the students. The critique in The Fearful Passage is a synthesis of modern feminist criticism. The works reviewed in thischapter inform much of this synthesis.One of the consequences of the change in the way we view texts is that13feminist literary criticism is now challenging the assumption that the greatclassical writers of the literary canon are universal in their ability to speak to allages, classes, races and genders. According to Gilbert (1985), this traditionalcanon, composed as it is of largely male writers, does not reflect women'sexperience. Not only does it not reflect women's experience, but it constructs avision of women in society which limits how women see themselves and makethemselves (Schweickart, 1986). Shakespeare is traditionally believed to transcendall divisions of society and so his work is thought to have universal meaning(Howard, 1987, p. 3), but this universality is now disputed by feminist literarycriticism.A useful guide into this very wide area of scholarship is a position paperby Neely (1981) which attempts to categorise modes of Shakespearean feministcriticism. She identifies three modes, the first of which she entitles"compensatory". In this mode, women characters are seen to be in need of a newkind of attention. Therefore, the "powerful, prominent women" of Shakespeare -- Kate, Portia, Rosalind, Viola, Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra, Perdita, Hermione areanalysed for their power, virtues and complexity. This compensates fortraditional criticism which has minimized or stereotyped them (p. 6). Neely thenpoints out the limitations of this mode of criticism. Because the women aresingled out for separate attention, they are read as isolated from the rest of theplay, the body of Shakespeare's work and the culture of his times. Thesubjectivity is open to criticism (Belsey, 1985), and this analysis could be14criticised for being ahistoric and reflecting the values of the society in which thecritic lives, thereby producing a reading which distorts the play (McLuskie, 1985).Having introduced the first mode and its limitations, Neely identifies a secondmode of criticism which seeks to address these problems by acknowledging "theexistence in Shakespeare's plays and in his culture of the traditional dichotomy,of the stereotyping of women, of the constraints of patriarchy" (p. 7). Throughclose textual criticism, this justificatory mode reads the plays within the contextof the male-dominated world of the plays and shows how the women's world isrestricted economically, politically, familiarly, and psychologically (p. 8). Thismode has been very productive in creating readings which, like the compensatorymode, bring the women into prominence. It also provides a view of women whichsituates them within the constrictions of their age. Particular women within theplays are seen to challenge male actions, attitudes and values, but no woman isseen to withdraw her allegiance from men, act apart from men or alter patriarchalstructures (p. 7). The "strong" comic heroines of the compensatory mode are seeneventually to remove their disguises and submit to their husbands (p. 8). Neely'scriticism of the justificatory mode is that the notion of patriarchy tends to rigidifythe plays. The actions of the characters are read only against the patriarchalstructure, so patriarchy is given prominence where perhaps it is not justified, andin the end this distorts the reading. Neely's third mode of feminist criticism isone which "asks not simply what women do or what is done to them, but whatmeanings these actions have and how these meanings are related to gender" (p.159). As examples of this third mode, she refers to "interrogations of the relationsbetween male idealisation of, and degradation of, women in Shakespeare texts,between women as heroines and women as victims, between patriarchal text andmatriarchal sub-text, between the play of men's anxieties about their potency andtheir fears of feminisation in the tragedies" (p 9). She is therefore promoting acriticism based on modern views of gender.The movement of feminism to a critique based on ideas of gender is notedby Elaine Showalter in her book, Speaking about Gender (1989). She quotesK.K.Ruthven (1984), who writes about how gender is "a crucial determinant in theproduction, circulation, and consumption of literary discourse" (p. 9). Showalterexplains that, since gender is embedded in language, it is a quality which cannotbe separated from language. Gender also stands for the social, cultural andpsychological meaning imposed on biological sexual identity. Hence, gender isan integral part of language (p. 2). Within the psychological meaning of gender,Showalter refers to the Freudian and post-Freudian criticism which is based onthe work of Jacques Lacan. These critics believe that gender is primarilyconstructed through the acquisition of language and the influence on thisconstruction of the oedipal complex. Showalter finds this kind of criticismunsatisfactory because it "implies an inevitability of the social relations betweenthe sexes and a down-grading of history and social process" (p. 3). She refers toa view of gender which is social and political rather than psychological and saysthat gender as manifested in texts in this way leads to questions about power in16society. Showalter says that the concept of gender has led to the study of themeaning of cross-dressing in Shakespeare and to work by Coppelia Kahn(addressed later in this review), Linda Bamber and MadeIon Gohlke, who studiedmetaphors of manhood in Shakespeare (p. 5). Showalter's focus on gendersupports the treatment of the play found in the teaching material used in my study.In Love's argument, (1984) Marianne Novy focuses on the nature of therelationship between the male and female characters. She examines some of theconsequences of the beliefs about gendered behaviour in the Renaissance andmuch of this criticism informed the teaching material used in my study. Shedevelops an argument that Shakespeare's plays act out conflicts between bothpatriarchy and mutuality, and between control and emotion. Patriarchy means ruleof the fathers and husbands. Novy quotes Erikson (1964) in her definition ofmutuality, which is "a relationship in which the partners depend on each other forthe development of their respective strengths." She says that Shakespeare's playsare symbolic transformations of ambivalence about gender relations. Novy basesher theory on evidence which suggests that ideas about marriage and the place ofwomen in society were changing in the late sixteenth and early seventeenthcentury. She suggests that marriage became the site of tensions between the newmoves towards mutuality and the resistance to this change in the form oftraditional patriarchy. In response to these changes, Novy says that Shakespearecreates "images of gender relations that keep elements of both patriarchy andmutuality in suspension" (p. 6). She writes that "one of the reasons Shakespeare's17plays have meaning that these conflicts still have resonance in oursociety." (p. 4) According to Novy, Shakespeare ascribed certain qualities to eachgender so that the qualities became gendered even when they were exhibited bythe opposite sex. Popular thought associated men with reason and control andwomen with passion. The friar in Romeo and Juliet consistently used the word"womanish" to describe the intense upset of both Romeo and Juliet and he usedthe word pejoratively. The notions of control and emotion often contain metaphorsof gender and this creates difficulty between the sexes. For example, whenRomeo at first hesitated in his participation in the feud he blamed Juliet, "Thybeauty hath made me effeminate" (Act 3 Sc.1 L.115). The implication is that byacting on feelings of love for Juliet, he had jeopardised his manhood, heremeasured in terms of the ability to kill. Novy develops a complex analysis ofhow these elements are played out in the plays and specifically in Romeo andJuliet. Novy develops another dimension of difference associated with control.She sees the male figures in the tragedies as actors and the females as audienceto these actors. The tragedy is caused by the male failing to trust the female.However, Romeo and Juliet are equally actors and audience for each other andthis is one of the contributing factors to the mutuality they shared in their loving.It was a love which allowed for mutuality within their relationship, but this wasonly in the internal world of the lovers. According to Novy, the external worldof Verona was a society with a rigid sense of gender distinction and this bringsabout the tragedy. External societal attitudes to sexuality, which Novy contrasts18with the language used by Romeo and Juliet, are shown in the constant sexualjokes found in the words of the servants and the young men, particularlyMercutio. Likewise, according to Novy, the societal attitude towards femalesexuality is demonstrated by Lady Capulet when she describes the charms andfortune of Paris to Juliet in order to recommend Paris as a husband. The Nurse'sconstant harping that sex and procreation will be the fate of Juliet also illustratessocietal attitudes. The most obvious element of patriarchy is, of course, Capulet'swords to Juliet when she refuses to marry Paris.Another view of how Shakespeare regarded societal definition of male andfemale is found in Marilyn French's theory of male experience of life and femaleexperience of life. Marilyn French (1981) believes that Shakespeare divided thewhole of life's experience into male and female principles, which she calls polesof experience, and she sees this polarisation reflected in Shakespeare's plays.According to French, the masculine principles are power to kill, prowess,ownership, assertiveness, authority, independence, rights and legitimacy. Themasculine principle claims to define and administer justice and supports law andorder. It thus tries to make permanent and "fix the flux of experience" (p. 21).Its ultimate goal is transcendence and its immediate goal is power. Therefore, themales in Verona felt the necessity to sublimate their feelings to the greater gloryof their households in the feud, and they sublimated Juliet's wishes to the greaterglory of her patriarchal household. The female principle is connected with nature,and therefore regarded as lower than the male principle. The acceptable "in law"19(p. 23) aspect of the feminine are all the conventional female qualities associatedwith nurtuance, plus a support of community over individualism. The suspect andfrightening part of the female, the "outlaw" qualities are her sexuality, whichincludes a rebellion against any permanency and, therefore, a repudiation ofmasculine principles of control and order. French (p. 17) believes thatShakespeare never abandoned his belief in male legitimacy and horror of femalesexuality, that his early plays show profound respect for the male principles, andthat by the end of his career, he feared the masculine qualities and revered thefeminine. A reading of Romeo and Juliet  based on French's theory would regardRomeo and Juliet's love as a threat to the male principles of order and power, andtheir demise would be viewed as a consequence of this.Another prominent formulation of Shakespearean feminist criticism is JulietDusinberre's (1975) belief that Shakespeare was writing in a climate of earlyfeminism brought about by the influence of puritan thought on the middle classes.She claims that drama, therefore, is feminist in sympathy from 1590 until 1625.She claims that "many men not explicitly connected with the puritans -- Spenser,Bacon, Sidney, Shakespeare himself -- demonstrated in their writing a sympathywith attitudes to life espoused by puritan preachers." (p. 5) One of the causesof this interest in the place of women was the Calvinist definition of chastity andchaste marriage in which total loyalty in marriage was seen as spiritually equal tothe Roman Catholic celibacy. Chaste marriage brought about a change in therelationship between man and wife. Puritans asserted spiritual equality between20man and women, Dusinberre claims. Novy (1981) referred to the same climate ofopinion in the development of her thesis of mutuality. Dusinberre seesShakespeare's heroines as examples of self-sufficiency, emancipation and non-stereotypical femininity (p. 5). This view contributed to the reading of Juliet inthe teaching material used in the study.Coppelia Kahn (1981) develops a thesis about the place of the feud inpatriarchy. Kahn's discussion of the play is based on a psychoanalytic reading ofpersonality development which regards young males as having to give up theirfears or dreams of union with mother, move to identification with father, and thento their own identities as men. She views the feud in Romeo and Juliet as a riteof passage which enables the males to "promote masculinity at the price of life"(p. 84). Kahn supported this view by reference to Freud. She wrote "the criticalthreat to identity for males is not, as Freud maintains, castration, but engulfmentby the mother..." (p. 84). The way boys gained this identity as men was througha sexual union with a female. Kahn says that in Shakespeare's world, marriagesignified full entry into society. She adds that this task of an adolescent inRenaissance England, to move away from emotional dependence on family toemotional involvement with a mate is the same as the task of an adolescent "inAmerica today" (p. 83). The crux of Kahn's argument is that "the feud in arealistic social sense is the primary tragic force in the play -- not the feud as agentof fate, but the feud as an extreme and peculiar expression of patriarchal society,which Shakespeare shows to be tragically self destructive" (p. 82). The feud binds21the young people of Verona to their own family against the other family and thisemphasises their role as sons and daughters and determines their social contacts.She also suggests that the young males of the households use their adolescenceto prove themselves as men through violence led by their fathers, rather thanseparating from the family through experimentation with courtship and sex (p. 86).The result of this is that the young men scorn women and associate them witheffeminacy and emasculation: "They link sexual intercourse to aggression andviolence against women rather than pleasure and love" (p. 87). Kahn supports thisthesis by drawing attention to the language of the men in the play and the jokes.She also shows the importance of the feud to the whole structure of the play.Kahn's critique is very prominent in the teaching material used in the study.Feminist Shakespearean criticism is eclectic and draws from the range ofmodern critical schools of thought. The authorities reviewed above represent themain body of work relating to Romeo and Juliet, but there has recently beencriticism of Novy, Kahn and Dusinberre. Cohen (1987) regards the work of thesecritics as suspect because of "the failure to explain Shakespeare's construction ofgender as social product and social act in a manner responsive.. .to the specificexigencies of time and place." Kathleen McLuskie (1985) has similar misgivings.According to McLuskie, a critic creates social meaning for the play out of itsnarrative and dramatic realisation. As a post-structuralist, she regards the text asinternally contradictory and therefore no single meaning can be established. "Thegap between textual meaning and social meaning can never be completely filled,22for meaning is constructed every time the text is reproduced in the changingideological dynamic between text and audience" (p. 92). She, therefore, isconcerned about criticism which treats the text as mimetic. She refers to CoppeliaKahn's (1981) analysis of the place of the feud in Romeo and Juliet. McLusIdetakes issue with this application of modern feminist psychoanalysis toShakespearean characters because she does not believe the texts to be sotransparent. She reviews much of the canon of Shakespearean feminist criticism -- Marilyn French, Linda Bamber, Juliet Dusinberre and finds that they use amimetic model of the relationship between ideas and drama. She suggests that "adifferent procedure would involve theorising the relationship between feminismand the plays more explicitly, accepting that feminist criticism, like all criticism,is a reconstruction of the play's meaning" and recommends "asserting thespecificity of the feminist response" (p. 90). McLuslcie criticises the critical workof French, Bamber and Dusinberre because they make claims about Shakespeare'sviews on femininity, which they see as apparent in the play, based on their ownreadings of the play. McLuskie claims we cannot know these views. She saysthat the critical procedure should take into account the "narrative, poetical, andtheatrical strategies which construct the play's meanings and position the audienceto understand their events from a particular point of view" (p. 92). She explainswhy Shakespeare's plays cannot be regarded as explorations of the real nature ofwomen, or whatever Novy, French, Bamber and Dusinberre claim for the plays:They were products of an entertainment industry which, as far aswe know, had no women shareholders, actors, writers, or stage23hands. Shakespeare's women characters were played by boys and,far from his plays being built on idiosyncratic views, they all builton and adapted earlier stories. The witty comic heroines, thepowerful tragic figures, the opposition between realism andromance were the commonplace of the literary tradition [the] sexand sexual relations within them are.., sources of comedy , narrativeresolution and coup de theatre. These textual strategies limit therange of meaning which the text allows and circumscribe theposition which a feminist reader may adopt vis-a-vis the treatmentof gender relations and sexual politics within the plays." (p. 92)McLuskie's point is a little better understood by reference to The subject oftragedy (1985) in which Belsey discusses the development of the liberal humanist"I". This concept of the individual, as we understand it today, was a consequenceof the Renaissance and so it was just evolving in the late sixteenth century. Thesubject, in the liberal humanist philosophy, is regarded as unified, autonomous,able to make moral, electoral, spiritual and consumer choices. Twentieth centurydemocracy is based on these assumptions. In The subject of tragedy  (1985),Belsey proposes that women in the sixteenth and seventeenth century were deniedany single place from which to speak for themselves. This manifests itself in thetexts of the time by there being a "discursive instability" in the texts about womenand "instability in utterances attributed to women. They were simply absent fromany discourses associated with power relations in the state and their presence wasinconsistent and contradictory in the power relations within the family" (p. 149).In addition to this, Belsey discusses the development of the notion of "character"within drama in Shakespeare's age and shows that the mediaeval morality playconventions, in which the concept of an autonomous character, man or woman,is an impossibility, had not totally disappeared from the stage. Therefore, to24ascribe whole, consistent characters, as the twentieth century regards a characterin literature, to the women of Shakespeare's plays, according to McLuskie andBelsey, is contentious. These critics therefore repudiate much of the work ofcritics reviewed earlier in this literature review. It is not the place of this study tomake judgements about the validity of the critical positions, but to provide a wideview of modern feminist Shakespearean criticism to inform the analysis of thestudent's engagement.A feature of feminist criticism, which includes Shakespearean feministcriticism, is the belief that it has implications wider than literary scholarship.There is a commitment amongst feminist literary scholars that the findings of thisscholarship should inform our lives. In her introduction to a collection ofShakespearean feminist criticism, Gayle Greene (1981) draws a parallel betweenfeminism and Marxism which she says "share the understanding of the social basisof consciousness and ideology" She regards feminist criticism as part of a widermovement to "liberate women from oppressive social structures and stereotypes"(p. 32) and therefore sees feminist criticism as praxis. By this, she means theextension of the academic practice of feminist criticism into wider issues offeminism in society and the living of those ideas.Much of the feminist criticism reviewed here informs the teaching materialused in the study. The students' engagement with the feminist reading is judgedin part by what they make of these ideas. The review describes how there iscritical opinion which regards Shakespeare as universal and believes in a universal25feminine. On the other side are those critics, numbered amongst whom arefeminist critics, who believe Shakespeare is subject to the cultural limitations ofhis age and that gender is a construct of each age. It will be interesting to findout if students, brought up on a view of Shakespeare as both relevant anduniversal, react to a different feminist notion of his work. It will be of interest tosee what they make of the specifics of the feminist interpretation of Romeo andJuliet as reviewed in this chapter. This review also addressed research onreading as it pertains to feminism and the critical theory associated with this.This theory suggests that it is necessary to resist the text to make a feministreading. The study will enquire whether this is a factor in the students'engagement with the play. Will they spontaneously, in their individual responses,spot the gender issues or will the concepts and view-points have to be explicitlytaught to them? Will it be possible to teach the notion of social construction ofmeaning with the prevailing pedagogy of reader-response? What about the praxiselement of feminist criticism? Will the students react against this and feelthreatened or will they embrace it and start to live out in the classroom theprinciples of feminism? By analysing students' patterns of engagement, it ishoped that this study will address some of these concerns.26Chapter 3: Method3.1 Description of proceduresThe study is to investigate the engagement of grade twelve students witha feminist reading of Romeo and Juliet. The unit of analysis is the students'responses to the play. The data is comprised of their recorded attitudinal andcognitive responses to the ideas embedded in a feminist reading of this play in theform of written and spoken comments. There were eleven girls and sixteen boysin the class with ages ranging from sixteen to eighteen. At the onset of the study,in March, I had been teaching the class from the beginning of their Grade Twelveyear. The context in which the students were engaging in the feminist analysiswas my teaching. Given this strong element of researcher participation in thestudy, a description of my intentions in the teaching of the material, plus adescription of the classroom context of the learning will be given in the Contextchapter.In order to describe the students' engagement patterns for this study, Icarried out procedures which were in addition to my normal teaching practice inthe classroom. I tape recorded all lessons. This means that in addition to the27opinions voiced by the students, I have a record of my actual teaching of the play.I also have a record of the students' spoken comments to the class as a whole, andwhole class discussion. I transcribed these tapes after each lesson and added myown observations so I have a written record of what happened each lesson and myobservations. I also made some notes during the lesson. For the sake of clarity,I shall refer to the study of the play undertaken by the students as "the course"and my investigation as "the study".Small group discussion I planned two units of small group discussion in the course: the discussionof the balcony scene (Act 2. Scene 2) using the worksheet (Appendix D) and thediscussion of the themes based on the questions taken from The Fearful Passage(1989) (Appendix E). I recorded some of the groups in the first unit of groupwork and all the groups in the second unit.First Unit of Small Group Discussion To work on the balcony scene (Appendix D), the students divided intogroups of three. I chose the groups and where possible I placed a girl in everygroup. There were nine groups in all and the discussion work lasted three lessons.I, therefore, did not tape all the groups as the transcribing would have been tootime consuming. I also had a practical problem of finding nine tape recorders.With only two tape recorders initially, I decided to record two groups who were28close to an electrical outlet, deeming that this would be a form of randomselection. In the following lesson, I continued taping the original two groups andwas able to record another, again selected because of proximity to an electricalplug. In the following lesson, I was able to acquire two more tape recorders withbatteries so I now was recording five groups discussions. The final two groupswere selected on the basis that they all had three members present. (On that day,three groups had members missing because of drama and peer counsellingcommitments.) I did not attempt to record the remaining groups because of thepracticality of transcribing. This unit of group work resulted in an someinterpretive acting and all groups were recorded as they performed in front of theclass. This meant that I had tape records of the performed results of all ninegroup discussions plus the actual discussions of five of the groups. This resultedin ten hours of taped group discussion and nine taped presentations, each of aboutten minutes.Second Unit of Small Group Discussion The students were allowed to select their own groups for this work. Therewere four students in each group, except for one group of three. There wereseven groups in total. The groups chose which of the following themes theywould discuss and present to the class: love in Verona, the feud, and expectations.They used the questions in Appendix E to guide their discussions. There werefour groups composed of both boys and girls and three groups of single sex, two29composed of boys and one composed of girls. They discussed and planned theirpresentations for a week, which was three hours of lesson time. I recorded alltheir discussions, which resulted in seventeen hours of tape recordings. I alsorecorded their presentations. Several of these lasted over half an hour and threelasted the whole English lesson of one hour. This resulted in three hours of tapedwork. Therefore, as data, I collected thirty -one hours of the students discussionsand presentations.Written dataThe writing each student completed as part of their course was used toprovide data. This comprised a response journal to the play, written answers to thequestions from The Fearful Passage (Appendix E), two essays, and responses tothe presentations. The response journal was completed in the second week of thestudy. The first essay was completed in the fourth week of the study. Thequestions were completed at the beginning of the fifth week and the final essaywas written as an in-class essay at the end of the study.The Questionnaires The students also completed three questionnaires. The first was completedin the first lesson, the second in lesson number nine, and the third at the very endof the study (see Appendix A and F). Questionnaire two and three were doneanonymously by the students. Although the questions in each questionnaire were30different, the overall purpose of these questionnaires was to provide moreinformation at the beginning, middle and end of the study about the meaning thestudents were making of the material and the ideas discussed, their beliefs aboutthe efficacy of doing such a study in school and their opinions about the teaching.The first questionnaire also had a teaching purpose which will be explained in thedescription of the teaching and therefore was not done anonymously. I includeda question about the teaching in questionnaires two and three (questionnaire onewas administered before any teaching had occurred) because of the unequal powerbalance in the relationship between teacher and student. I wanted to know if anyof the students felt that the material was being forced on them and if they felt theywere being pressured into expressing views with which they disagreed. The finalquestionnaire was much longer (Appendix F) and was composed of the samequestions I asked the students that I interviewed. All questionnaires wereadministered during the English lessons and students were asked to treat theirreplies as confidential. I clarified the questions briefly when asked, but gave nomore directions on answering the questions.Interviews The other data on which the description of the students' patterns ofengagement rests are transcripts of interviews with seven selected students. In myselection, I attempted to choose students who represented differences in degreesof acceptance of the feminist reading and differences in conscientiousness towards31school in general. I interviewed four boys and three girls because of thepreponderance of boys in the class. The nature of these interviews was influencedby the fact that I knew these students very well, and I had a very good idea oftheir stance towards the unit of work before interviewing them. It was thisknowledge that led me to select them in the first place. I based my questions onthe questionnaire, but I was influenced in follow-up questions by the position thestudent had taken in the presentations and all the other work completed during thecourse. My aim was to get a sense of the real beliefs and understanding thestudent had of the unit of work and I asked questions accordingly. The interviewsresulted in three hours of taped data.Assessing the dataThe data is rich and massive. The intimate utterances between ten groups, in all,of confident and intellectually lively young people over six weeks, long after theyhad forgotten about the tape recorders on their desks, the whole class discussions,the jokes, the fun and the real tussle with meaning in which they engaged, as wellas their personal responses in their written journals and their more formalresponses in their writing -- all seemed impossible to categorise or convey. Whendeciding how to analyse this data, I chose not to develop an analytical system.In making this decision, I was influenced by Douglas Barnes in Communicationand Learning in Small Groups (1977) in which he was attempting to show howstudents were making meaning through talk. He likened the process of analysing32the data to the process of meaning making in the small groups themselves andused Glaser's grounded theory (1967) to support his methodology: "Our strategywas to start with the data and work from the data to a category system... so thecategories that we arrived at are grounded in the data in that they have developedout of a series of approximations rather than being a pre-existing grid which wehave imposed on the data from above" (p. 18). Barnes's study was investigatingmeaning making. This study is also attempting so to do. Therefore, Glaser'sgrounded theory seemed an appropriate method of analysis and I chose to derivethe categories as they appeared to me in the data.Data selected for inclusion in the study In the event, there was too much data to include in the results. I readthrough all of it and I transcribed and listened to all the tapes. I used for theresults the data which showed the students' actual patterns of engagement. Thisdata was all the tape recordings, all the response journals, and all the essays. Imade use of the first questionnaire to show attitudes to feminism and reading atthe onset of the study. I referred to these attitudes in the results. The answers tothe remaining questionnaires were only referred to in the discussion where theythrow light on typical patterns of engagement. For questionnaire three, only thereplies of the students interviewed were used in the study. The data collectedfrom the rest of the class was not used.333.2 The context of the studyAspects of the context of this study to be discussed are: the school context,the student context and the teaching context.3.2.1 The school contextThe school, of approximately one thousand students, is in a middle classneighbourhood of a large city with a culturally homogeneous population ofstudents who have English as their first language. The school is a grade eight tograde twelve secondary school and English is taught in three one-hour blocks perweek to mixed ability classes. There are no Communication courses offered ingrade twelve for students weak in English but there is an Advanced Placementcourse. Therefore, the population of students in the grade twelve English classesinclude all except the most gifted who choose to do an advanced course. Allstudents in the general English courses take the Provincial Examination in English,which is assessed through course work as well as by a final examination. Thematerial taught in the study was part of the grade twelve course work.3.2.2 The student context: the participantsThe students who participated in the study were the whole student body ofone of my grade twelve English classes. I will describe in some detail theirsocial and cultural backgrounds because I believe this had a strong bearing ontheir reactions to both studying Shakespeare and to the issue of feminism. All of34them, except three, had been born in North America. Of the three students whowere born outside the continent, all of them had skills in English which enabledthem to read the Shakespearean text, though with more of a struggle than the otherstudents. None of the rest of the students had more than average difficulties inEnglish.Most of the parents of the students had professional occupations, severalwere academics and virtually all their mothers worked in clerical or professionaloccupations. I believe this last factor accounts for the general lack of hostility tothe discussion of feminism I perceived. Whatever they and their parents may havethought privately, there was a consensus in the community of the school that equalopportunity for women was acceptable and should be promoted. The parents ofthe students expected both boys and girls to go into some form of tertiaryeducation. With the exception of two boys, all students, boys and girls, alsobelieved that university, perhaps after attending a college, was an option for themand all the students in this class were expected to pass the Provincial EnglishExamination with a C grade and above.Besides at least lip service to "enlightened views" about women in thecommunity, there was support amongst the parents for Shakespearean studies inschool. They did not regard studying Shakespeare as irrelevant to life. Thoughmy evidence is anecdotal, I believe the best way to describe the parents' views isto say that they subscribed to the notion of a canon of great works withShakespeare as a figurehead, the study of which represents academic excellence.35The parent consultative committee called a meeting in the year prior to this studyto urge the English department to teach more Shakespeare and the classics. I wasurged at a Parent-Teacher evening by a father of one of the students in the study,Claire, to make sure that I taught some Shakespeare during his daughter's GradeTwelve year. I did wonder if this conservative attitude towards Shakespearerepresented by the parents would influence the students' reception of the feministreading. The students themselves also expected to study Shakespeare and somehad seen the Zeffirelli film of Romeo and Juliet before the study commenced.Therefore, as a group, they were predisposed to study a Shakespearean play eventhough they may have found the language laborious and even though there wereindications in the data that some of them rejected a crucial part of the drama.An adverse element at the very beginning of the study was that some ofthe students did not just resist the topic but school in general. This was commonacross all the grade twelve year and it took some time for them to becomeengaged with the material. However, this engagement happened, with theconsequence that the study went on longer than I had planned because thepresentations they did were so long and complex. The study lasted from March23rd to May 14th but during this time six lessons (two weeks) were lost to variousschool activities and Easter break. The climate and culture of the school allowslittle hierarchy between teacher and student and the students feel quite free tocriticise a course or the way it is taught, something they do frequently across allsubjects. My experience with them is that they are not inhibited about giving their36opinions.3.2.3 The teaching context: the materialThe source of material for this study was the CCTE Booklet The Fearful Passage by John Willinsky and Jim Bedard (1989). As was described in chapterone, the authors state in the preface that it "is based on insights into the playprovided by recent work in feminist literary criticism" (p. v). As the study wasundertaken within the context of the students struggling with these ideas, a briefreview of the feminist perspective taken by this curriculum material will beundertaken here. A prominent notion in this critique of the play is the socialconstruction and meaning of gender in every day life interpreted through aspectsof language, character, action and structure, the play of imagery and themes (p.11). As has already been described in the Literature Review, the feminist readingof the play as presented in The Fearful Passage places the origin of the tragedywithin the patriarchy which shaped the relationships between men and women anddetermined how maleness and femaleness was constructed. It determined whatwas allowed and what was not allowed in the lives of the young people. The feudis seen as part of this patriarchy and emphasises sexual dominance. Therefore, inthe feminist reading, the feud is not seen as just a plot element around which thetragedy weaves to its inexorable ending. Read against the manifestations of thepatriarchy, Juliet is brought to the forefront and her courage and independence is37evident. Romeo's feelings and action are also understood differently. Heattempts to make sense of his feelings of love, beyond the love conventions of hissociety and the sexually aggressive love which the young men joke about in theirribald humour. Juliet's courage in the end does not save her, and Romeo is notable to turn away from patriarchal values which call for death and revenge. Thetragedy ensues. It is not suggested that Shakespeare was attempting to write afeminist play. In playing both the tragic heroes to the edge of the sociallyexpected behaviour of the age, Shakespeare adds to the tension and tragedy of theplay and so gains dramatic power. These ideas form part of the teaching contextof this study.The authors of The Fearful Passage introduce these ideas by suggestingseveral options including the thematic approach (p. 29). This was the approachused with my students. The themes are the nature of love, expectations, and thefeud. Within the framework of these themes, the students were introduced to thenotion of social construction of gender. This was done by close textual readingof the Balcony scene (Act 2 Scene 2) using the work guide (Appendix D), andby addressing the questions found in Appendix E. To avoid a too directed formof learning, to give the students "exposure without domination" (p. 29), thewriters suggest using a reader-response model of teaching or a performance-basedanalysis. These models use the teacher as an alternative source of analysis but notnecessarily as the authoritative source. One of the reasons the authors suggestedthese ways of teaching was to avoid "an ever present danger in a handbook like38this is that student responses to questions and activities may be too closelydirected." (p. 29) In this study, a form of reader-response was used within thecontext of the philosophy and methodology of teaching outlined in the nextsection. The results show that the pedagogic techniques of reader-response alonedid not lead to a feminist reading. The technique of close textual analysis wasanother method used and this proved more effective as is discussed in chapter The teaching context: the teacher and the teachingMy decisions for the teaching of the course were informed by my beliefsand practices as a teacher and by my own attitude towards feminism. Theseneed to be briefly explicated as it was in the context of these that I planned howthe material was presented to the students. Teaching is a position of power, andI was concerned that there was a danger that power might be abused if I hadadopted a prescriptive method of teaching. More specifically, I was concernedthat the students' responses might not be their genuine opinions but given to meto please me as an authority figure. This called for subtle and sensitive teachingwhich made the students feel safe in exploring ideas, risking new ideas andrejecting them if they wished. I, therefore, had to find a way of presenting thematerial which was not prescriptive and which gave power to the students overtheir responses. .My concerns were: how to use what I consider to be good teachingmethodology within these constraints, how to deal with the problem of the39possibly contentious nature of the material, and how to enable the students tocome to an understanding of the issues in the material in a way which wasgenuinely their own? In answer to these concerns, I designed strategies whichwere informed by a constructivist view of learning supported by recent linguisticand pedagogic research and curricula theory. The term "constructivist" has severalderivations coming as it does out of interpretive social theory. Rorty, in theextract below, speaks of the place language is now seen to play in the making ofideas. "Post -positivist philosophies of science turn more and more to interpretivesocial theory, where the focus is on constructive versus found worlds. Anincreasing focus on the role of language in the construction of knowledge createswhat is sometimes called "the linguistic turn" in the social sciences" (Rorty, 1967quoted in Lather, 1992 p.90). The "linguistic turn" is the understanding we nowhave of the place of language in the development of intellectual concepts. Implicitin my intentions and closely informing my way of teaching in the classroom isrecent research which shows that language is at the core of our learning, and thisresults in both the intensely personal nature of our conceptual framework andthe crucial influence of family and group in the development of this framework.In Language and Learning, James Britton (1970) places Vygotsky's work onspeech and thought central to an understanding of how a child learns and thesignificance of this work underlies the use of group talk and journal writing inthe classroom. Vygotsky (1962 quoted in Britton, 1970 p. 63) showed that speechwith family and social group at an early age forms the foundations of our40consciousness. This occurs as the early speech of a child divides into speech forcommunication with social group and speech which becomes inner speech as thechild tells itself about this world bounded by its social group. This inner speechis laid down as post language symbols and becomes thought. One consequenceof this is that at the heart of our conceptual categories are the social meanings ofour families and group. Therefore, the personal knowledge of each of us isdifferent, and all new knowledge is measured and judged against this priorknowledge (Ausubel, D. P. 1968). I intended to make opportunities in class foraccess to this personal view of the world and for the consequence of it: that eachstudent's understanding of the new knowledge will be different because it isinfluenced by the individual consciousness. Vygotsky's work also showed thataccess to our rich associations is through speech because thought is held in theform of stripped down language, or post language symbols. Thus, opportunityto talk out ideas or write informally to give organisation to thought throughlanguage would be necessary in class to enrich the students' understanding andmake the knowledge their own. Britton (1986) makes the claim that Vygotsky'scentral contention is that human consciousness is achieved by shared socialbehaviour and Britton goes on to contend that education is therefore "an effect ofcommunity." He quotes Bruner to support his point that this has profoundimplications about the way learning should happen in school: "I have comeincreasingly to recognise that most learning in most settings is a communalactivity, a sharing of culture. It is not just that the child must make his41knowledge his own, but he must make it his own in a community of those whoshare his sense of belonging to a culture" (Bruner, 1986, P. 127). Bakhtin, whowas concerned with language rather than learning, wrote that the meaninglanguage carries is not separate from the society that produced it. He proposedthat there is no language that is not caught up in definite social relationships andthat social relationships were in turn part of a broader political and economicsystem (quoted in Eagleton, p.117).These were the understandings of learning which informed my teaching.Based on these understandings, my aim was to make it possible for the studentsto organise and formulate their existing knowledge, feelings and opinions as thesewere brought to consciousness by the play itself and by the discussion about theplay. Using this personal knowledge, I wanted them to make of the play and thefeminist criticism what they would, and in the process, articulate for themselvesand for each other their reviewed and redefined view of the world. As theyshared their responses, I intended that we as a class would construct our ownreading of the play. By conducting a shared reading of the play in my classroom,I hoped to move the locus of control from myself to one which I shared with thestudents. I hoped to avoid the problems implicit in the nature of the studydescribed at the beginning of this section. The theory described above givesconceptual rigour to the phrase that my classroom is one of shared meaningmaking and makes specific the process of learning which I hoped would occur.423.2.5 The teacher as part of the contextMy other concern was my own position as a female teaching feministcriticism. I could not be objective about the focus of discussion. As thematerial was new to me, I was discovering a feminist reading together with thestudents. This being so, I hoped I would be less powerful as a source ofknowledge. Although a feminist by instinct, I had not read widely in the area soI did not come to the study with a set of prescribed opinions. I also felt protectiveof the students' feelings, with a real sense that I had no authority to demand anyparticular reaction from them. I was aware that the boys may have found itthreatening and the girls may have also been afraid to show that they had feministsympathies. Therefore, the model of teaching I adopted had to meet theseconstraints.43Chapter 4: ResultsThe purpose of the study is to investigate how students engage with afeminist reading of Romeo and Juliet. The study did not concern itself withindividual students but tried to identify overall patterns in the students' responses.The analysis of their responses, as described in chapter 3, showed that there werediscernible patterns. The results suggested the possibilities of three discernablepatterns in the way the students engaged. These were: Conventional, Feminist andInconsistent. Individual students showed all three patterns of engagement duringthe study. The possible reasons for these patterns of engagement, and anyimplications suggested, will be discussed once all the patterns have beendescribed.In presenting the evidence for these findings, I have decided to attachnames to the statements used. My intention is not to confuse the reader, who isnot expected to track these different names through the evidence; it is to keep inthe forefront of our minds, as we read, that these comments were pondered andsaid by real grade twelve students, well known to the writer. Their statements,as they appear in this context, give only a hint of the energy, liveliness andhumour of their debates.44Prior to starting the course, I asked the students what they knew about theplay and how they had heard about it. I also asked them how they felt about doinga feminist reading of Romeo and Juliet  (Questionnaire 1 Appendix A). The resultsof this questionnaire showed that all participants had prior knowledge about theplay. It indicated that participants held different attitudes towards doing afeminist critique. The answers to the questionnaire also demonstrated the rangeof beliefs held by the participants about textual authority and universal meaning(Howard, 1987, p. 3). These findings will be described and discussed where theycontribute to an understanding of how students engaged with the text.454.1 Conventional pattern of engagementA conventional pattern of engagement is a response to the text whichexcludes any of the principles of feminist literary criticism. In reviewing theevidence, it was possible to discern two forms of the conventional pattern ofengagement: involved and uninvolved. Two beliefs were common to both theinvolved and uninvolved conventional pattern of engagement:•a belief that there is an authoritative reading of the play, and-a belief that feminism is a biased reading.4.1.1 Belief in an authoritative readingA characteristic of this pattern of engaging with the text is the belief thatthere is such a thing as an orthodox reading of the play which is neutral and freefrom any point of view. Evidence of this belief is found in the replies to the firstquestionnaire, administered before any teaching had occurred. The questionswere: "What do you think 'taking a feminist point of view' means?" and "Whatdo you feel about taking a feminist point of view?" Though expressed in differentways, the responses below are evidence of a belief that there is an authoritativereading. The extracts below suggest that students came to the course believingthat they could read the play without any "preconceived idea" and that they could"read it for what it is", "it" being some kind of neutral meaning. They believedthat their own readings, uninfluenced by feminist critique, would result in a46reading which reflects "how it was written".Feminism is to read the play with a preconceived view.(Jessica)The student believes that a non-feminist reading is a reading without apreconceived idea.For people who have not read it before, shouldn't we read itwithout an opinion, for what it is? Then for a feminist point ofview? (Johnny)The expression "for what it is" suggests that there is a known and legitimatedreading.I have a feeling that studying Shakespeare this way will ruin theplay for me. I'd rather just read it as it is and be free to interpretit anyway I please. This way everyone is free to enjoy the play theway it was written before it's taken apart by the feminist view.(Sandra)This statement above shows the student confuses an authoritative reading -- "theway it was written", with making one's own interpretation of the play -- "be freeto interpret it anyway I please." Sandra may well confuse these two positionsbecause the results of the study suggest that, for the participants in the study, theseamount to the same reading. When the students read and did not incorporate thefeminist reading into their understanding,they were, in fact "free to interpret asthey pleased." The resultant readings reproduced many of the features of thetraditional interpretation of this play as the results of the study will show.Therefore, Sandra's belief that there is an uninfluenced reading is unfounded.474.1.2 Belief in a feminist critique as a biased readingAnother characteristic way of engaging with the text within theconventional pattern is a belief that bias occurs in all readings of plays. Thisbelief is indicated in the following response to the first questionnaire.Well, we can bring our own individual biases into it, not yours.(unidentified).This student repudiated the feminist reading, saw it as biased and wanted to dohis/her own reading. In addition to regarding the feminist reading as biased, therewas a perception that the feminist critique was in conflict with another position:It's OK to do a feminist viewpoint if we do both sides. (Adam)We should examine the play from both points of view or evenshare the play between two points of view. (Mona)Can we do a masculine study after it? (unidentified)The comments examined suggest that engaging in a feminist reading offendedbeliefs about how a text should be read and this may be one of the reasons for theexistence of a conventional pattern of engagement in which a feminist critique wasabsent.4.1.3 Involved conventional pattern of engagementIn the involved conventional pattern of engagement, the students areinterested and actively engaged in the questions raised in the teaching, but theymiss out the feminist critique in their responses. In addition to the lack of48feminist critique, the belief in an authoritative reading and a belief in feminismas bias, the involved conventional pattern of engagement is characterised by thefollowing behaviours:• development of an alternative critique.• development of argument against the feminist critique. Omission in conventional engagementA typical way of responding to the feminist critique in the conventionalpattern of engagement is by omission. The students do not see the feministcritique as they discuss the play. Comments in their Response Journals showomission of all the feminist critique. Despite the use of the reading guide(Appendix C), in which questions direct their reading towards the followingaspects of the feminist critique, the students do not comment on: the character ofJuliet, the language of the ribald humour in the play, the relationships between theyoung males, ways in which the adults relate to Juliet, and the significance offeud. When I read their written responses to the question: "What are those twoserving men saying about the nature of love and the feud in 1.1. Think about thejokes and think about how they would be received in a modern age," I noted inmy note-book that: "many totally missed the sexist attitudes in the humorouslanguage, they just ignored it." Typical responses to this question are exemplifiedin the extracts below:I just read it and every line had something to do with feuding. Themasters are feuding, and because they are, everyone down the line49sort of has to. (Alan)The servants would defend their masters to the end. They did notreally think. They would throw away their lives to be in this fight.(Mona)These students are commenting unwittingly on the patriarchy of the society, buttheir comments are limited to how it applies to males in the social order. Theymake no comments about the significance of the language of sexual humour in thescene.The character of Juliet becomes invisible in their Response Journals. Thereis little speculation on her motives or attempts to explore her character. Typically,Juliet is not regarded as an active author in the sonnet, as this comment on Act1, Scene 5 shows:His [Romeo's] choice of words are very good and could sweep anygirl off her feet. (Llorn)Response to and comment on Juliet's Epithalamium (Act 3. Scene 2 1-30) is alsomissed out or given shallow treatment despite questions which guide the studentsto explore her mood and attitude. In the example below, the focus is on the nurseand there is no reference to Juliet's mood or character as she awaits her lover:It is frustrating how the nurse confuses Juliet whether Romeo isdead or not. She should be clearer with things as tragic as this.(Gary)When comment is made on her epithalamium speech (Act 3 Scene 2), the tone isnot feminist:Juliet awaits the coming of the night, of Romeo and their physicalbond. She is a bit immature in the way she can't control her desireto see him when she is not with him. (Ryan)50Other omissions include lack of comment or speculation on "0 sweet Juliet, thybeauty hath made me effeminate..." (Act 3. Scene 1. 111- -117), though the fightreceived comment. The extract below shows that the student has chosen to focuson the part played by fate rather than the implications of these lines to thefeminist critique, despite the invitation to consider this implication in the readingguide.I feel that Romeo did everything he could to save his friendMercutio...It was not right for Tybalt to die, however, Romeo couldnot stand by and do nothing. All the events happening in thisscene are pure bad luck. "This days black fate on moe days dothdepend" "0, I am fortune's fool." (Johnny)Johnny's statement typifies the conventional pattern of engagement. He haschosen to comment on the play of fate in this scene, which is the traditionalreading of the play. As these extracts show, the students engaging in this patternjust did not "see" the feminism. Possible reasons for this will be discussed inChapter Development of an alternative critiqueFrequently, the omission of comment on the feminism went hand-in-handwith real commitment to the exploration of the drama in a way which did notcontribute to the feminist critique. The students developed their own critique basedon their own interests, and used their own experience to elaborate theories relatedto these themes. Evidence for this is found in the transcript of one of the51discussion groups. I chose this group because they are representative of the classin their liveliness and engagement, although they are far from the most eruditegroup. In the extract from their discussion to be analysed, their pattern ofengagement is representatively conventional, not only in their process of makingtheir own meaning, but also in the topics which interest them. The transcriptsshow them discussing the possible impetuosity of the lovers, why the lovers donot elope, the maturity of the lovers and a brief but abandoned attempt to engagewith the feminist critique. The tape transcripts show how they engage with theseself-chosen topics and how they integrate their own experience into their problemsolving. In this way they are developing their own critique which makes noreference to the feminism.The task I set them was to use the workguide to the Balcony Scene (Act2. scene 2) (Appendix D). This followed discussion of the two sensibilities atwork in that scene and the implications of this for a feminist critique. As theextract below demonstrates, this group do not attend to the worksheet, neither dothey attend to the feminist critique:Claire -- I think about Juliet, that Shakespeare was trying to say,you know, what is a name, on one side what does a name reallymean, but when you think about it, your title, -- that it is nothingreally but, do they elope in that play, is eloping done then?Nicole -- Is that kind of what they did in a way?Kevin -- Well, they did elope in their own kind of "let's killourselves" kind of way"[laughter]Nicole -- But I think if they loved each other that much then, then,52it would be kind of..Claire -- Why did they, like, just after they found out that he had,em, he had murdered Tybalt and all that kind of stuff, why didn'tthey just run away?Kevin -- Exactly!Nicole -- The thing is that they are just being totally selfish thatthey didn't, because they say -- oh well, if we run away we arenot going to be our rich little selves, we are just going to bepeasants and I think, I think, that if they did do that theirrelationship wouldn't have worked because there's no [inaudible].Kevin -- Yeh, they are more materialistic than you think. It's notall, y'know, love that they are looking for.Nicole -- 'Cos if you think about it, nowadays when there are allthese situations like teenagers get married younger, or, becauseshe's pregnant or whatever but they feel "oh, we are in love n'we'll be alright or whatever but once you get down to "who leavesthe toilet seat up" and stuff like that, then it's a totally differentsituation.Their first point of interest was the problem of why the lovers did not elope. Thetranscript shows that Kevin and Nicole answer this question to suit themselves:Kevin likens their death to a kind of elopement and Nicole thinks that they wereunwilling to risk their status. Nicole compares situations in modern relationshipswith the situation of Romeo and Juliet in order to explain her point and explainit to herself.Another point of interest was the maturity of Romeo and Juliet and thisreally engaged them:Nicole -- No, I think that at first, Romeo was in love with being inlove, but I think he was immature about the whole love thingtotally. I think it was just this feeling he had, it was love at firstsight - - this beautiful woman and she is mysterious. Then, when53he finds out that she is from the Capulet family, I think he got alittle more excited because the love would be a challenge, youknow for them to fight for each other.This was a common point of interest in this pattern of engagement and was afrequent topic for discussionThis group did make an attempt to follow the workguide, but failed tomake the feminist analysis. The extract below illustrates how they attempt toattend to this, and how perfunctory is that attempt:Kevin - What did you think of all the references to the skies, themask of love?Girls - YehNicole - I think that was just Shakespeare's way of doing somewooing "oh thy looks are just etc." you know.Nicole - Well, what else do we have here? Oh well, in the end bothof them come to a consensus.Claire - oh yeah. That their name doesn't matter and that they bothwant to be together and that it doesn't matter that...Nicole - that their families are enemies and that their fathers areenemies. They have the same feeling for each other and thereforecan feel love for each other.Nicole - mm.Kevin - Why do they drift in and out of the poetry and stuff?Because when Romeo's talking in poetry and then this (inaudible)is talking about love. It's all serious like, those are the genuineterms. You know what I'm saying?This was extent to which thy take their analysis of the language of Act 2. Scene2. They react to the conventional language of love without asking themselves whatit means to be addressed in this way. They therefore fail to identify the different54sensibilities at work here and the implications that has for the feminist critique.The evidence from this transcript so far shows that the students haveavoided the feminist critique but have engaged actively in developing their ownreading of the play. Their response to my request that they address the feministcritique suggests some reasons for this avoidance. One of the students said thatshe did not think gender issues played a part in Romeo and Juliet's love. Anotherstudent said that he wished to argue "basic things like how their age affected theirlove together":Kevin - Mrs Jones. Did we have to stick solely to gender?Kim - I don't know that gender plays so much a part in it.Kevin - You can hear on the tape that I made all my notes withlots about gender, but are we allowed to go past gender?Mrs Jones - What would you like to argue?Kevin - Well, just basic things like how their age affected theirlove together.This suggests that they do not regard gender as a "basic thing" nor as importantas other factors. The fact that they do not consider gender issues worth discussingis one reason for their omission of feminist critique. Why they do not thinkgender issues important is suggested by Kevin's comment about the state of thingsin Verona a little later in this conversation:No, its [gender issues] more general. The man is getting what hewants and the woman is the weaker so she has to give up. It's nota direct thing, it is just the whole.Here, he is saying that the gender issues are such an integral part of society that55they are just not worth discussing. Such issues are not considered as interestingas the aspects of the play he would like to discuss. The implications of this foran explanation of why students engaged in a conventional pattern will bediscussed in Chapter Engaging in argument against the feminist critiqueAnother characteristic of a conventional pattern of engagement is areasoned rebuttal of the feminist critique. Again, interest and personal connectionwith the themes of the play are a feature of this pattern of engagement. Thestatements below demonstrate this pattern of engagement. Two students argueagainst the feminist analysis that the humour in 1.1 sets up a context within theplay for relationships between men and women and, as such, this humour issignificant.They are making jokes. They are all just playing with words. I donot think they really mean they are going to rape all those women -- they are all puns. (Johnny)The humour is there for comic relief. (Jason)The boys' opinions represent the traditional reading of 1.1Another example of argument against the feminist critique is found in theextract from the essay printed below. The student argues against the feud as asocialising agent for the young males. In the feminist reading, the feud is seenas an agent which socialises the young boys into the patriarchal society. "The56feud fosters in the sons fear and scorn of women, associating women witheffeminacy and emasculation, while it links sexual intercourse with aggression andviolence against women, rather than pleasure and love." (Coppelia Kahn, Man'sEstate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare, p.17 in Willinsky & Bedard 1989, p.49)Jason disagrees with this statement, as shown in the following quote from hisessay:The boys are merely boasting and do not truly feel the way theyprofess to around their peers. (Jason)He is here denying the power and meaning of the language used in the joking.He writes that it is necessary for a male to assume an aggressive look masculine and dominating. .due to the pressure that societyputs upon a male. (Jason)Jason concludes, that Romeo, in spite of joining in the sexual joking and takingpart in the feud, proves he can love a girl, Juliet. He believes this proves thestatement wrong. In his argument, he refers to his experience of modern life, sohe has engaged with the story of the play, but he does not accept evidence whichpoints to social construction of gender and the actions of the other young men andtheir families are ignored.Another example of argument used in the conventional engagement patternis in response to a partner's statement that women could not stop the feud becausethey had no power. The student refutes her partner:Juliet had power, Juliet was an aggressive person. Romeo andJuliet stopped the feud by their death. (Winnie)The first sentence of this response shows a misunderstanding of a feminist reading57of Juliet. In the second sentence, the traditional reading of the play is clearlyarticulated. Winnie's partner replies to her by saying:Juliet might be powerful as a person but boys and girls had to actdifferently then. (Mona)Again, Winnie virtually denies this basic precept of the social construction ofgender by saying:No, it was because of their personalities. Juliet was consideredvery aggressive for a girl.In this argument, any real understanding of society affecting behaviour isdismissed in favour of individual personality traits. Therefore, the feministreading is refuted by this student.4.1.4 UninvolvedThe uninvolved conventional pattern of engagement displays an absenceof feminist critique, a belief in an authoritative reading and a belief that feminismis a biased viewpoint. However, there is little involvement with the play or thequestions raised in the teaching.This pattern of engagement is different from other patterns in three veryimportant ways. The students are all male, whereas gender is not a feature in anyof the other patterns. Unlike other patterns, the students showed no involvementor interest in the drama and avoided any response to it or discussion about it. Inaddition, this is the only pattern of engagement which is time limited. There is58no evidence of this pattern of engagement after the showing of the film and thebeginning of the first set of group work. The evidence for this pattern was basedon my personal observation in the classroom and on the comments of students inthe interviews at the end of the study, together with some evidence in writtenresponses. An extract from my journal in lesson one, after they had been toldabout doing a feminist reading, describes the behaviour of four boys as "veryjoky." Further notes from that lesson indicate the mood of some of the students:Jeff singing "Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo" in a silly way.Patrick's response to hearing about feminist criticism was quiteaggressive. "So, it's like to say, it's degrading to be written by aman?"A week later, another extract from my Journal records my concern in theseearly lessons that students who usually contribute to the lessons were behavinguncharacteristically.What Eve and Alan said was really good, but, unusually, many ofthe boys were not listening, - - not engaged. Adam, Jason, Jeffand Gary laughed at the end of scene five.Support for my observation that some of the boys were not engaging with thecourse came in the form of comments during interviews at the end of the course.The boys were defensive at first. I think it was because of thestereotyping of feminists. (Nicole)We thought we would look at women and neglect men so I did notreally like it. (Johnny)The boys were antagonistic to the course at first. (Janine)It is evident that the very idea of a feminist study prompted this disengagementand avoidance which was noted by other students.59Another aspect of this antagonistic pattern of behaviour were commentsmade in the first questionnaire which indicate a strong degree of resistance to afeminist study:Just something else -- is that there are many female teachers ofEnglish and most of the content is female oriented novels such asEdible Woman, Lives of Girls and Women,  I hope the book listis more balanced in the future. (Adam)Fear of feminism, loss of power or at least feelings of being discounted,and the effects of stereotyping of feminists, all seem to be at work in producingthis form of engagement.604.2 The feminist pattern of engagementThe feminist pattern of engagement is defined by a reading which showsan articulation of the principles underlying feminist literary criticism as found inThe Fearful Passage (VVillinsky & Bedard 1989) and explicated in some detail inChapter 2. Although an acceptance of the principles of the feminist critique is thedefining characteristic of this pattern of engagement, the following additionalcharacteristics were also discerned:•positive responses in the first questionnaire• response to a foregrounded Juliet as a strong and rebellious girlwith whom they could identify.• response to social construction of gender within the feministcritique.• connections between the feminist critique of Romeo and Julietand modern issues.• responses which raise questions about feminist literarycriticism.All these characteristics together cumulate in a sense of conviction about thecritique and an intensity of engagement.614.2.1 Positive responses in the first questionnaireTwo attributes of this pattern of engagement were observed in theresponses to the first questionnaire. A feminist pattern of engagement showed apositive anticipation of such a study:I think it sounds extremely interesting. To finally study the viewsof women, and to see the female side of things sounds great.(Nicole)Might change some viewpoints. (Mark)It is good to educate males about females. It leads to moreunderstanding and equality amongst the sexes. (unidentified)The second attribute was conjecture about what the study might be:At the time this play was written, the female point of view wasoften sacrificed to put the male perspective into order. I think thatwhen we view the feminist point of view, we will see manydifferent types of feeling that were overlooked. (Gary)I think taking a feminist approach represents some new ideas andnew ways of thinking. I have never thought about taking a feministpoint of view while studying a poem, except my unconsciousfeminine viewpoint being female. (Candace)These responses from the first questionnaires indicated an acceptance of feminismas being a worthwhile study in which students are willing to engage and anopenness to new ideas. They also indicate some commitment to the study.624.2.2 A reading of Juliet as a strong and rebellious girl with whom theycould identifyThe students' new reading of Juliet foregrounds her. Their reading is inthe manner of Neely's compensatory mode of feminist criticism (Neely, 1981),exemplified by Dusinberre (1975), and described in Chapter 2. In this form offeminist analysis, Shakespeare's women are read for their strong personalities, incontrast to conventional criticism, in which the women characters wereoverlooked. This form of feminist criticism does not necessarily emphasis thepatriarchy, nor does it explore notions of gender. The responses printed belowshow a clear recognition of Juliet's character without analysing in much detail thesocial forces with which it had to contend:I feel Juliet is calmer. (Mona)Juliet is the sensible one. (Kim)Juliet is less romantic and more sensible. (Ryan)Totally practical and realistic while Romeo is idealistic. (Mark)The comment below gives a fuller account of Juliet's character in thecompensatory mode, (Neely, 1981):Juliet is portrayed as a stronger woman than her mother and thenurse. Lady Capulet, Juliet's mother, was very powerful, but stillkept the status of a woman in those times. The nurse was veryforward and blunt, but when it came down to it, wouldn't stand upagainst Capulet. Juliet, on the other hand, was a very determinedwoman. She was in love, and this love drove her to stand up toher father. Juliet did take a stand but realised she was verypowerless and gave in to her father but only from his eyes. Sherealised the only way she would get what she wanted was to workat it behind his back. (Claire)63In this response, Juliet is rescued from the conventional reading but the socialcontext is not explored. It is described as a backdrop against which Juliet existed,but its formative influence is not analysed. Some students within this engagementpattern showed their empathy with Juliet's character and consequently assumedthat Juliet was rebelling by responding to Romeo:It is unbearably obvious to the reader that Juliet is rather disgustedwith the idea of presently marrying and this leads her to look atRomeo. (Jessica)As soon as Juliet's mother persuades Juliet to give the honourableParis a good chance, Juliet denies her family and is watchingRomeo with an aroused eye. (Candace)Juliet was probably so annoyed with her parents that she went withRomeo just because he was a Montague. (Mona)The students assume that, because Juliet was a strong personality, she would reactagainst her parents' wishes. For these students, she becomes the well-knownfigure of twentieth century literature, the discontented adolescent rebelling againstinjustice.Because of the way of engaging just described, the compensatory mode ofShakespearean feminist criticism was easy for the students to accept. In order toarrive at this kind of reading of Juliet, they did not have to come to terms withthe formative influences of society on notions of gender. Their response to Julietwas feminist, but the reading of a strong woman fighting against the odds wasalso close enough to their previous experience in the English classroom that itcaused little difficulty.644.2.3 Response to the social construction of gender embedded within thefeminist critiqueThis reading was rarely articulated fully. It is a reading of the play inwhich the social, cultural, and psychological meaning imposed on biologicalsexual identity of the characters is explored (Showalter, 1989. p. 2). Thesignificance of these meanings for an understanding and appreciation of the dramais discussed and analysed. This was dealt with in the teaching by inviting thestudents to examine what love meant in a society where females were given tomales for marriage purposes. They examined the variety of relationships open toJuliet and compared this with Romeo's relationships They also discussed whatcoming of age meant for males and females in that society (Willinsky & Bedard,1989). They discussed the significance of the feud as a rite of passage for theyoung males and the part patriarchy and the feud played in the socialisation of theyoung men (Kahn, 1981 p.19). A reading of the character of Juliet, whichengages with some of these concepts of social construction includes reference tothe patriarchy in which the character was drawn and alludes to the genderexpectations with which Juliet had to live. The following extract shows a groupstruggling with these ideas.Kim - - No one can have a say in it [Juliet's marriage] except him(Capulet) because he is the man.Claire - - I know. I was reading that. Wasn't it awful!Kim and Nicole - - I knowKim - - It's like gender. If they were women, they may have their65opinions but they daren't express them.Claire - - Yeah, when she says that, when she is going to her fatherand she says 'Yes, father I am for ever ruled by you and ..allthat'.All- - Yes.Claire - - I thought - - you are WHAT!Nicole - - It was disgusting the way women had no power. If theymarried, all their money, all their property went to their husbandand if they got.Claire - - All the stuff that she had she would lose [if she gave upher name] She lost her name, she lost her power, she was just ahousewife.Kim - - You know how Juliet didn't get to choose who she shouldmarry, well, did the guys?Nicole - - Paris chose her.Claire- So the men could chooseKim - - Well, if Juliet turned her parents down, she could bedisowned and well maybe the men couldn't.The extract shows the struggle with a difficult concept. However, Kim's remarkabout women and their opinions convinces me that she is making the distinctionbetween expected gendered behaviour and the individual consciousness "[thewomen] may have opinions but they daren't express them." The students identifythe lack of social and political power experienced by women, and the women'slack of self direction. In the tone of their discussion there is indignation andconcern.The character study below shows a firmer grasp of the concept of sociallyconstructed gendered behaviour, but, again, not completely articulated. The66extract is from a final essay in which the character of Juliet is discussed:...Self-assertive and not willing to conform to the limitations placedupon her by a patriarchal society. She has the intelligence and witto be able to manipulate her mother, and more importantly, herfather into believing she is respecting their demands.. .Juliet is morethan equal to her male counterpart, Romeo. ..she had theresponsibility of doing the rational thinking in her relationship withRomeo...She is self-aware and knows her own sexuality anddesires. She is romantic, too, she says, "my ears have not yetdrunk a hundred words of my tongue's utterance" which shows sheis looking forward to a real relationship. (Janine)This response goes on to make the distinction between Juliet's sexual behaviourand the socially constructed expectations of female sexuality, which areexemplified by the nurse in Act 1 Scene 3.The nurse jokes about Juliet falling on her back. She likens this tothe role of all women in adulthood. Juliet seems to be different andmore independent in her love for Romeo. (Janine)Janine makes a distinction between socially expected behaviour in Verona and theindividual personalities of women.Although it was a society in which women were expected to actfeminine and flighty, on an individual level, the female characterswere strong-willed people. (Janine)As these extracts from her work show, this student has achieved a reading ofJuliet which shows a fluent understanding of much of the feminist critique as itpertains to Juliet.In addition to considering social construction as part of the reading ofJuliet, students also considered other aspects of the social construction of gender.They examined the different expectations of love and friendship in Verona and thedifferent rites of passage of into adulthood of boys and girls:67There exists an expectancy for Juliet to get married...Romeo wasa guy and in those days they were treated with more respect soRomeo's parents gave him a little more freedom than I thinkJuliet's parents. (Gary)This shows awareness of the different expectations but draws no conclusions; itis descriptive.In the following response, a group of students demonstrate anunderstanding that behaviour is formed from societal expectations. They alsodisplay an understanding of how stereotypical attitudes to women develop. Thegroup were comparing the differences in male and female rites of passage. Fivestudents took part in the presentation, so the speaker is presenting the findings ofthe whole group. In a presentation, the group describe how the expectations inthe society socialise the young people, a reading found in Kahn (1981) and Novy(1984) and discussed in chapter 2:What does society deem when men and women become adults?For young men in those days, society was effectively their peers,since their peers had the greatest influence on them. Young boyswould brag about their sexual conquest and their fighting ability.( The speaker quotes Act 1 Scene 1)Another sign of young boys maturity is being old enough to fightin the feud. If they weren't old enough, they were still consideredchildren.For women to become adult in the eyes of society.. .Women becamemature when their parents thought they were. Their parentsmarried them when they thought they were mature, so marriagewas a sign of maturity. Just another thing about the women aspect-- I found it hard to find an actual age or event at which women inthose days became mature [other than marriage]. This is becausein those days, women did not have much control over their ownlives. (Johnny)This shows a clear connection made between gendered behaviour and societal68expectations. The young males in Verona measured themselves only against otherboys, and aggression was a societal norm for young men. Women were neverallowed to mature in the eyes of society. They merely passed from onedependant role as daughter into another as wife. This group, therefore, hadarticulated some of the principles of the feminist view of the social constructionof gender.A central point about how plays are read is made in the followingresponse. The student observes that behaviour which is acceptable and expectedin young males is unacceptable in women. How this can lead to a prejudicedreading is articulated in the extract. The student is discussing society's attitudeto sexuality in Verona:This is very explicit. It was expected of the men to be bawdy andillicit. The nurse's scene (Act 2, Scene 4) is bawdy because of herlanguage. She is regarded as a bawdy character, but her languageis no worse than the young men's, yet they are seen as normal, weexpect them to talk like that. (Jessica)This student has stumbled on a crucial point about feminist readings. She hasread the play differently and discovered that behaviour which is criticised andmade the butt of jokes when displayed by a female in the play is not commentedon when displayed by males. She has resisted the text to discover this reading.A complex part of the feminist critique is the function of the feud indetermining the values of the young men. Kahn (1981 p. 83) speaks of the feudas a " defence against women, love, and sex" and to be a man "in the sanctioned69public way" of that society was to take part in the feud (Kahn, 1981 p. 89).Craig understands the significance of Romeo's behaviour in the reading of thefeud proposed by Kahn. In the quote below, the student has an understanding ofhow the feud and its socialisation influenced how the young males thought:"Thy beauty hath made me effeminate" (3.1.115) This line showsthat Romeo believed his withdrawal from the feud is a weaknessin him as a male, and he believed his expression of sensitivitytowards others showed him to becoming more effeminate andwoman-like. ..The feud indicates the state of manhood in the play.It reveals that although the society may have been strictly one ofmale dominance, but the feud, with its ongoing, unending ways,fuelled by fear, aggression and lack of compassion for their fellowman and their distancing themselves from their emotions, shows thebarbaric frames of mind which the males were only able tocomprehend. (Craig)The student responses discussed in this section demonstrate engagementcharacterised by a sophisticated understanding of the feminist critique. Theresponses show that there was a range of complexity of reading within thisresponse pattern, and that working with the concept of social construction ofgender proved to be a difficult idea for the students and yet several studentsengaged successfully with the idea.4.2.4 The construction of connections between the feminist critique andmodern issuesAnother characteristic of the feminist pattern of engagement was theconstruction of connections between the feminist reading and wider questionsabout women in society. As will be seen, the connections made and the ideas70promoted are tentative and rudimentary, and cannot be said to be "part of thatwider movement to liberate women from oppressive social structures andstereotypes" (Greene, 1981 p. 32). However, speculation about the causes ofinjustice and comments about the existence of injustice were elements in theconnections the students made. The following extract is an example of a studentdeveloping an hypothesis to explain why women were treated subserviently in theseventeenth century. He uses his theory to answer questions about modern life:In the play, boys see women looked down upon therefore feel theyare no longer women but rather objects to fulfil their husband'spassion. Today, I feel it is the fact that women and men are equal,but it is society that corrupts the equality. For example, incommercials, women are constantly shown as sex symbolstherefore, we believe them to be just that. So, once again we arefaced with an unjust society, but the problem and solution lies withthe individual to decide on his /her feelings about the opposite sexand perhaps we as a society can live equally and with love. (Jeff)The problem of why seventeenth century women were without power in thepatriarchal society is considered in the next example. The issues raised in thecritique have led another student to produce a hypothesis about the origins ofpatriarchy:Back then, if women were physically stronger than men, womenwould have been ruling, there wouldn't have been any patriarchy.(Johnny)Another student is beginning to question the viewpoint by which literature hasbeen judged in the past and in this concern she is beginning to address ideasexplicated by Gilbert (1985) about the nature of the canon:In most literature, women are portrayed as being the weakerone... One reason for this may be that a lot of literature from the71past has been written by men, plus the feminist revolution had nothappened. (Nicole)In her interview, Nicole relates the feminist critique to the world outside theschool by describing an example of stereotyping in a commercial:In a B.C. Tel ad.the woman is successful and a bitch. The man isso smooth and successful. Its like, you are a bitch if you aresuccessful and a woman. (Nicole)In the extract below, a student is ostensibly writing about the seventeenth century,but the use of tense suggests some real connection with her life in the twentiethcentury:Although the play was written four hundred years ago, the boysappear almost interchangeable with those in this century. Theyspeak to each other about their sexual conquests and their wordsare filled with sexual references and puns. These words clearlyshow the image that men have of women. (Janine)Janine clearly recognises in her brothers and male friends similar behaviour to thatproduced by the young men in the play. In a presentation, a student from Chinainterjected and said to the whole class:In my society, women were treated like this, [as they were inVerona] right up until my grandmother's time. My grandmotherdare not disobey my grandfather. He was the boss. Today,Chinese girls do not have to work so hard in school. It's alright ifthey stay at home after graduation but Chinese boys have to go toget a degree. (Raymond)In this comment, Raymond is taking the idea of gendered expectations and relatingthem to his own Chinese community in which he lives. He is reflecting on thedifferent expectations for girls and boys in his community, and seems to becommenting on the injustice of this, or at least complaining about it. In response72to the question of whether the study was legitimate, the same student answered:These are the facts, it [the unequal treatment of women] is actuallyhappening, so whether you study it or not, it won't go away.(Raymond)On evidence of this statement alone, it is difficult to judge whether Raymond isconcerned about inequality or just noting its existence. However, his group, ledby Gary, exhibited a feminist pattern of engagement noted in section 4.2.3 (p. 67).in their analysis of Juliet's expectations, so in relating the critique to modern life,he may be noting a sense of injustice.There is another feature of this characteristic of the feminist pattern ofengagement which also shows a different kind of connecting. The quotes belowshow an empathy with the situation of the women in the play:It has made me think about how women feel. Before, I neverreally thought about how bad it was for women. So it was good.(Johnny)[Being female] You notice the injustice more. (Candace)This evidence suggests that the students who engaged with the feminist critiquewere working to integrate the new ideas into their world view. They also attemptto make connections between the feminist criticism of the play and the feministissues in their own lives. These responses show an involvement and commitmentto the ideas of the critique. I believe this to be a significant characteristic of thefeminist pattern of engagement.734.2.5 Responses which raise questions about literary criticismThe students' readings in this section ask questions about how we readliterature. This questioning was found only in the feminist pattern of engagementand I believe it is an indication of depth of thought and involvement with thecritique. In response to a question about what she thought taking a feminist pointof view might mean, Candace stumbled on the question of whether there is sucha thing as a female reading:I have never thought about taking a feminist point of view whilestudying a poem, except my unconscious feminine viewpoint, beingfemale. (Candace)The student is making an assumption about her reading not supported by thefeminist critics (Flynn E.& Schweikart,P., 1986). A strong sense of historicismis displayed in the extracts below. Both students are aware of the play as anobject written in a different age. This makes them question the feminist analysis.In the first extract, the student believes that if the feminist critique is correct, thenShakespeare authored this critique. She believes it impossible for this to happenin the seventeenth century:Upon opening the play and reading the first act, one sees aconcentration on the male superiority factor. Shakespeare couldhave written this act to show disgust at the vanity existing in men,yet at the time in which the play would have been performed, theaudience would have jeered along with Sampson and Gregoryinstead of being repelled by their impudent behaviour. This thendisqualifies the idea that Shakespeare wrote the play in order tomake the people realise how unjust their behaviour was towardswomen. We have to keep into consideration that he was writingto a particular audience and was therefore fostering the ideal ofmale strength and female delicacy. (Jessica)74Janine is voicing a similar concern about her reading of Juliet:It seems really weird to me that four hundred years ago a man canbe writing about a thirteen year old girl this way in a society whichwas totally patriarchal. I mean, its more a kind of nineties viewof a thirteen year old girl than a fifteen hundred's or sixteenhundred's. (Janine)Both girls are knowledgable about the critique and they are asking the questionof how Shakespeare could write as a feminist. This is a misunderstanding on theirpart, of course, but McLuskie (1985 P. 90) finds a similar problem with the workof feminist critics such as French, B amber and Dusinberre, as I discussed in thereview of literature in chapter one. McLuskie is concerned that these critics makeclaims about Shakespeare's views on femininity, and McLuskie believes that wecannot know these views. Though the girls believe we can know Shakespeare'sviews, they can see problems. This questioning of how we can do a feministcriticism demonstrates the commitment and involvement which is characteristicof this feminist pattern of engagement. The questions these students are raisingare not anti-feminist but rather concern what literary criticism is, and how itshould be taught in schools.754.3 Inconsistent pattern of engagementThe inconsistent pattern of engagement is a pattern which includesprinciples of feminist literary criticism but not consistently so that elements of theconventional pattern of engagement are also observed. It is less easily definedthan the conventional and feminist patterns because students engaging in thismanner have less clarity in their responses. Therefore, articulation of degrees ofconventional response and degrees of feminist response have to be described inorder to specify some of the characteristics of this pattern. Two characteristics ofthis pattern were identified.• a feminist analysis coexisting with a conventional analysis.• contradictions between the critique made and attitudes showntowards feminism in the interviews.There is evidence of an inconsistent engagement in the questionnaireadministered at the beginning of the study. An inconsistent engagement isindicated by responses to the question "What do you feel about studying the playfrom a feminist point of view?" that show a hesitancy together with a guardedinterest:To read the play from a feminist point of view will be different,perhaps even fun. I don't mind, because I have already read it andthis won't change my mind. (Jeff)This response suggests a curiosity on the part of the student but also exhibits thesuspicion of feminism found in a conventional pattern of engagement. The76response below exhibits both distrust and a slight openness to the possibility ofthe critique:As long as I know the play and what it is about as well as if theclass studied it normally, what you as a teacher decide to do withit is your decision. I don't want to lose anything by studying it"against the grain" so to speak. (Alan)In this last response, a belief in a correct meaning is suggested when the feministcritique is described as "studying 'against the grain'." In tone, these responses arevery close to a conventional pattern of engagement.4.3.1 Feminist analysis coexisting with conventional analysisThis characteristic of the inconsistent pattern of engagement is observedin responses which display aspects of both the feminist pattern of engagement andthe conventional pattern of engagement in the same statement. These extractshave both feminist analysis and conventional analysis within the same statement.The point of view is not clear as shown by this extract from a response to Act 1Scene 1:These Capulet men are living in a very male chauvinist time. It isfunny that Shakespeare opens a play about love and tragedy withtwo young men making many sexual puns. On the key word weak,they bring in the word women "being the weaker vessels." I donot consider the sexual puns especially serious, as they are justtrying to show their power and superiority, although it does showthat rape was not considered to be as serious as it is today.(Candace)The student demonstrates awareness of feminist principles in the recognition that77ribald punning is contradictory to the love in the play. The phrase "a very malechauvinist time" shows recognition of the patriarchal context. Comment on thelanguage used to describe women would never have occurred in a conventionalreading. However, the judgement made that the ribald language was "notespecially serious" contradicts the earlier statements and represents a conventionalreading. The student is unable to sustain either the complete feminist or thecomplete conventional analysis and it is not clear what position the student wouldthink she was taking.Another form of this characteristic of an Inconsistent Pattern ofEngagement is to accept and articulate a feminist analysis of one part of the playand to make a conventional response to another part. This is demonstrated by theextracts below in which the students have engaged in a feminist critique of Act1, Scene 1 and a conventional critique of Act 2, Scene 4. In both these scenes,sexual imagery is used which depicts sex as aggressive behaviour and women asrecipients of male lust. In Act 1, Scene 1 the speakers are Sampson and Gregoryand in Act 2, Scene 4, the speakers are Mercutio and Benvolio. In the firstexample, printed below, the student is quite passionate in judging the language ofSampson and Gregory as being aggressive and sexist. She expresses this analysisas part of a class discussion in which she rebuts the conventional analysis ofanother student, who has just said that the language of Sampson and Gregory78means nothing because their references to sex are just jokes. Jessica respondsangrily to this opinion by saying:How can you say something lightly about raping women? (Jessica)However, she fails to comment on the attitude shown to love by Mercutio and theyoung men and the change in tone between the Balcony scene (Act 2, Scene 2)and Act 2, Scene 4, though her attention was drawn to it by the questions in theReading Guide (Appendix C). Her comments are about plot:The attitude that Romeo's friends show towards him is one ofsurprise at Romeo's great ability of evasion. (Jessica)Another example of this inconsistency is found in the responses of Nicole. In herresponse to Act 1, Scene 1 she notes the aggressive quality of the language,explaining to her reader that Sampson is actually speaking of rape:Sampson talks about women being the weaker vessels and cruellyspeaks of: "I will cut off their heads". This means rape. (Nicole)In contrast, this same student's comments about Act 2, Scene 4 are confined toplot:Mercutio is asking Romeo where he has been. He thinks he hasslept with Rosaline. Romeo is in good spirits when he enters. Heignores the sarcastic list of women said by Mercutio. (Nicole)Here, she fails to note the attitudes to love and women evident in the speech ofMercutio. The students lose the feminist viewpoint when characters to whom theyare sympathetic, such as personable Mercutio and hero Romeo are speaking.However, the students are able to engage in a feminist pattern of engagementwhen minor characters are speaking.79This characteristic of the inconsistent pattern of engagement is alsorevealed when students articulate a feminist reading of Juliet and a conventionalor incompletely feminist reading of the feud and of the socialisation of the youngmen. Typical of this pattern of engagement is the work of Ryan. In his readingof Juliet, he displayed a response to ideas of social construction of gender, yet hefails to articulate a feminist engagement to other aspects of the play. Hisdepiction of Juliet demonstrates some recognition of the social constrictions onher. In one of his essays he describes Juliet as "having no power" and as having" no control over her own fate." He also writes of the social construction offemale sexuality in that society:Juliet, as well as all the other women in the play, were contentwith "falling on their backs" and raising a family. (Ryan)By referring to the speech of the nurse, "thou wilt fall backwards when thoucomest of age," (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 56) he refers to that part of the feministcritique which suggests that the nurse is characterising the sexual role of womenin that society as passive and accommodating. Ryan is showing that heunderstands how these expectations produce behaviour by adding that Juliet andother women were content with these expectations. However, he is able todistinguish between the way society characterises women and the individualstrengths of women:Although they did not have much physical power, they had greatmental power, stability and strength. (Ryan)He also articulates the compensatory mode of feminist critique in which Juliet is80foregrounded as a character:At first, Juliet had trouble seeing through the protective barrier ofher family's wishes, but soon began to understand herself forwhom she really was...she was strong enough to defy her parents'knowing the consequences of her action. I believe it was Juliet'sstrength which held and protected her relationship with Romeo.(Ryan)In contrast with the above response, Ryan's reading of the feud and Romeo is lesssecurely feminist. He does not recognise the part the patriarchal structure plays inperpetuating the feud nor does he recognise that it is the ultimate cause of thelovers' deaths. Both these ideas form part of the feminist critique but are missingin his response below:The feud continues because the Capulets and Montagues areunwilling to forgive. (Ryan)In response to the question: "What does the feud mean for the men and womenof Verona", Ryan replies in such a way that he misses out any reference to thefeminist critique of the place of the feud in the society of Verona:Shakespeare uses the feud in such a way that the reader seesRomeo and Juliet as great lovers willing to do anything to betogether. He uses the feud at different points to remind us of thechances that the two lovers had taken. Every time they seem toclimb one more rung on the ladder of love, Shakespeare uses thefeud to remind us of the difficulties. (Ryan)The feud as a force which socialises the young men, and ultimately claimsRomeo's allegiance is not discussed here. This is a very traditional reading of thefeud. It is therefore clear that Ryan displayed an inconsistent pattern ofengagement by engaging with feminist critique in reference to Juliet, but failingto engage with feminist critique in reference to the feud. This is a commonpattern of engagement which will be discussed in chapter 5.814.3.2 Inconsistency between responses made to the text and opinionsexpressed in interviewsIn this characteristic of an inconsistent pattern of engagement, the studentdoes not show conviction about the feminist critique in which they havesuccessfully engaged. They have an ambiguous attitude towards feminist criticismand so the inconsistency lies in their attitude and not in their critique.Examination of the responses of Alan provides an example of thisinconsistency. As will be shown, he made a feminist response to Juliet, yet wouldnot admit any further implications or extensions of the critique. He shows a cleargrasp of how society shaped the lives of women and also a clear grasp of Romeo and Juliet as a drama written by an author in an historical time. Speaking ofJuliet's character, he said:For that time period, it was what probably made the play so great.Because Shakespeare took those women on in society and hecompletely opened it to make his point and he was able to makehis point by making a character so strong, it proves so much, it'ssuch a statement of what's going on gender-wise. Just because heis using an unrealistic situation, it's like, I don't know, it's like anillustration, really. That would be so unrealistic for the day, itwould be like making an illustration to prove the point, I think.(Alan)The phrase "it's such a statement about what's going on gender-wise"demonstrates that Alan is involved in a feminist critique here. Yet, when askedif there are "any other occasions in school when we could take a feminist pointof view" his reply shows that he is not prepared to extend his critique any82further:If the character you are studying was not like Juliet and did not dosomething rebellious, then there is no point to it.. .1 really don'tthink you can take a feminist point of view in any other subjectlike math or science or history. I mean a leader of a country is aleader of a country and if he decides to invade a country orsomething it doesn't really matter whether he is a man or a woman.I don't think gender plays much of a role in anything exceptLiterature.There are elements of unconscious chauvinism in this: "and if he decides to invadea doesn't really matter whether he is a man or woman." Given hisinsight, demonstrated by the quality of his literary criticism illustrated in theextract of his feminist critique, Alan can only be denying the significance of thiscritique. His next statement supports my viewpoint:I didn't want to do it [the feminist reading of Romeo and Juliet] atfirst either, but when I saw what the play was about, I did notmind. This play, with the character of Juliet as it is, well, youdon't lose anything from the feminist study, but I wouldn't want todo it with another play because you might lose something from it.He still regards the feminist critique as lesser than the "normal" critique: "well,you don't lose anything from the feminist study." This suggests that Alanunderstands the reading he achieved of Juliet yet has ambiguous feelings about itslegitimacy. Given the quality of feminist reading he achieved and theunderstanding he showed, it can only be his beliefs and values which areproducing his ambiguous attitude.There is evidence of other students showing ambiguity in their attitude tofeminism after having engaged in a feminist reading. Some students did notrealise that the critique of the feud and the part it played in the socialisation of the83young men was part of the feminist critique because this criticism focuses on men.They thought that a feminist critique was only concerned with the women in theplay.The whole thing about the feud was a sign of how men developedin society. That's about men. (Johnny)When I told Johnny that it was part of the feminist critique, he said "How do youknow? Because that was my viewpoint." By this statement, he meant that heagreed with this analysis of the socialisation but was questioning whether it wasfeminist. When I questioned him further, he said that, had he and his groupknown it was part of the feminist critique, they might not have accepted it:We might feel bad about taking it as a feminist viewpoint, but wealready do believe that, so we accept it, even though it wasfeminist. (Johnny)This student had achieved a reading which recognised many of the principles ofthe feminist critique yet shows hesitancy about the word feminist and suggests thatthe other people in his group might have shared the same attitude. Johnnyaccepts the critique but says he might not have done so if he had known it wasfeminist. There seems to be inconsistency between an acceptance of the substanceof the critique and its label.The same kind of inconsistency is found in the next example. Thisstudent's feminist analysis shows depth of commitment to the ideas, but herinterview suggests that she is ill at ease with the notion of a feminist study. Theextracts from her essay below show the clarity of her grasp of the critique:Throughout the play, Shakespeare provides examples of how84gender sets the males and females of Verona apart. He also shows,mainly through the characters of Romeo and Juliet, that men andwomen can think and act alike and that it is only the expectationsplaced on the two sexes that causes them to act differently.(Sandra)The way she substantiates her points shows some understanding of the socialconstruction of gender:It was a sign of maturity if the males were strong enoughphysically and mentally to take part in the feud... this pathway hadbeen made for them by society. It is not right for men to lovewomen in Verona. Women are for sex and bearing children. Loveis something to be made fun of by the young men. It is thewomen who must love their husbands as shown when Lady Capuletasks Juliet "Can you love the gentleman?" (Act 2, Scene 3, L.79)Romeo even claims at one point that his love for Juliet has givenhim feminine qualities in the way he feels love. (Sandra)There is a sense of engagement in this essay, as I hope the brief extract shows,yet when I spoke to her, this certainty and assurance about the reading, andfeminism in general, was missing. She said she had been very suspicious at thebeginning of the study about doing a feminist study of the play. When askedabout her opinions of feminism, she said:I want equal wages and things but I don't think of myself as afeminist. (Sandra)She denies the feminist critique in which she participated:It hasn't made me think any differently about the play.This is inconsistent with the analysis of her written work already discussed. Whenasked if a feminist study should be done in other subjects, she said:That's alright if you don't do it all the time, it's O.K. just thisonce. I would rather make up my own mind than do it from a pointof view.85Sandra's initial response at the beginning of the study to doing a feminist critiqueof Romeo and Juliet had been exactly the same. She had said:I'd rather just read it as it is and be free to interpret it any way Iplease.Sandra's responses show that, despite the feminist critique she made of the play,she still regards feminist studies as biased, she denies that this study has changedher views and she still says that she is not a feminist.Alan, Johnny and Sandra all showed inconsistency between responses madeto the text and opinions expressed in interviews. I do not believe the students wereaware of the inconsistency in their thinking. Alan and Sandra rejected thegeneralisability of the critique in which they had been engaged. In the case ofSandra, there is a denial of feminism, despite engagement in feminist critique.Johnny and Alan show some ambiguity in their attitude to the feminist critique.As we have seen, the inconsistent pattern of behaviour has elements of afeminist pattern of engagement and elements of a conventional pattern. In somecases, the inconsistency lies in conflicting readings of the play, and in other casesthe inconsistency lies in conflicts between the attitudes of the students toward thecritique and the critique they made. I believe that the students were unaware oftheir inconsistent engagement and the inconsistencies were unconscious.86Chapter 5: Discussion andConclusionThe patterns of engagement described in chapter 4 are classifications ofthe way students approached the text. The grade twelve students engaged withenergy and interest whether they engaged with the feminist critique or not. Theyalso demonstrated that there was indeed engagement with the feminist critique,and the analysis shows the nature of this engagement. It was serious andcommitted. The inconsistent pattern of engagement also produced thoughtful andinterested feminist engagement, together with conventional engagement. It is notsurprising that individual students were observed to change their pattern ofengagement as the course progressed. For instance, there was a tendency to engagein a conventional way at the beginning of the study and in an inconsistent orfeminist way at the end, although some students maintained a conventional patternof engagement throughout the course. For example, the responses used toillustrate the conventional engagement in section were both taken fromfinal essays and final discussions at the end of the course. What is of interest hereis the possible reasons why students engaged as they did. Why did a fewstudents reject the reading completely? What was it that led some students to asophisticated feminist critique of the play? Why did other students achieve only87an inconsistent pattern of engagement? What prevented them from achieving afull feminist critique? What prompted students to move from one pattern ofengagement to another? There are suggestions in the data that may indicatepossible explanations and lead to further areas of enquiry.Some insight into the issues raised by these questions may be gained byconsidering how students read and what attitudes they bring to the critique. Forinstance, the responses discussed in section 4.1.1 (p. 47) seem to indicate thatsome students believed that there is an authoritative reading of the play and thatthe play has a universal meaning (Howard, 1987 p. 3). Students subscribing tothese views may have resisted the feminist interpretation of the play. Alan (seeintroduction to section 4.3, p. 77) exhibited such a view when he wrote about theprospect of doing a feminist study:As long as I know the play and what it is about as well as if theclass studied it normally, what you as a teacher decide to do withit is your decision.His final reading of the play and his interview showed an inconsistent pattern ofengagement. He was very ambivalent about the feminist critique in which heactually engaged (section 4.3, p. 83), and this may well be because it offendedhis beliefs.Students' opinions about what it is to read may also have influenced theirpatterns of engagement. Again, this is a point of view they brought to the course.Their opinion that they should be able to bring their own point of view to bear on88the text may have led them to regard a feminist reading as an infringement oftheir rights. The evidence in 4.1.1 (p. 47) shows that some students did hold thisopinion. They regarded the feminist reading as the imposition of a biased wayof reading the play. These students may hold this view of reading because oftheir familiarity with reader-response pedagogy, in which they are encouraged tovalue their own responses and points of view when reading. This would accountfor some students' concern that the feminist study would infringe this right. Asdiscussed in section 4.3.2 (p. 86), Sandra actually said that she wanted to read theplay her own way: "I'd rather just read it as it is and be free to interpret it anyway I please." In her interview at the end of the study, she clung to this view bysaying that she would not like to do a feminist study of any other subject: "I wantto be free to make up my own mind." The attitude that a feminist reading wasa distorted and imposed view caused some resistance.Another factor which impeded the development of a feminist pattern ofengagement was the inability of many of the students to see the basis for afeminist critique. Many students just did not see the feminist reading. Theyhappily engaged with other aspects of the play and totally omitted the feminism.This pattern is described in chapter (p. 49) as omission because theyomitted the feminist critique. The discussion of the social construction oflanguage in the Literature Review suggests an explanation for this characteristicof a conventional pattern of engagement. In this discussion, Belsey writes about89the way language enables us to recognise what is socially accepted by ourcommunity, but believe the construct we make to be the only the only way ofunderstanding:Because it is characteristic of language to be overlooked, thedifferences it constructs may seem to be natural, universal andunalterable when in reality they may be produced by a specificform of social organisation. (1980 p. 42)Certainly, the significance of the ribald sexual language of the play was notremarked on until it was drawn to the students' attention several times (see section4.1.3.1, p. 50). I suggest that they overlooked what this language signifiedbecause it is presented in the text as "natural" and there is no obvious criticismof this language offered by the text. There are many other examples of this"overlooking" or omission in the study. One particular form of omission whichwarrants further comment is found in an inconsistent pattern of engagement(section 4.3.1, p. 79) in which several students commented on the ribald languageof Sampson and Gregory in Act 1, Scene 1, but failed to comment on similarribaldry in the language of Mercutio and Benvolio in Act 2 Scene 4. The studentsidentified the connection between sex and violence when the servants werespeaking, but did not recognise it when the young men were speaking. It is as ifthe students are blinded to the actual meaning of the young men's words becausethe young men are characters with whom the students sympathise. Belsey'sdiscussion of the social construction of language (1980), quoted below, mayexplain this inconsistency. She describes how, in the learning of language, a childalso learns the social constructs carried in the language:90In learning its native language, the child learns a set ofdifferentiating concepts which identify not given entities butsocially constructed signifieds. (p. 44)If we accept this explanation, then we can postulate the reason for omission in theexample of the inconsistent pattern of engagement under discussion. The gradetwelve students accepted that servants were capable of sexually aggressivelanguage and made the feminist critique of this language. It was not possible,however, for the students to stand away from the text, and the socially constructedsignifieds of hero and hero's friends, in order to assess the significance of thelanguage of Mercutio and Benvolio. They, therefore, failed to read the languageof characters attractive to them as sexually aggressive, and thus omitted thefeminist critique. A variation of this omission is when the student regards genderas a given and just part of the background of life and therefore not worthattention. This occured in the group discussion described in section (p.55). Kevin asks "Do we have to stick to gender?" and goes on to say that hewould rather discuss "well, just basic things like how their age affected theirlove." He says about gender issues that "it's just the whole (of society)." Theimplication is that gender is such a given to this student that it is not worth talkingabout. In this case, it could be said that Kevin regards gender to be "natural,universal and unalterable" (Belsey, 1980 p. 42) and so judges the feminist critiqueto be of less significance than his own preoccupations.This suggests that my students were not conscious of socially constructedsignifieds and this raises a question about how my students were encouraged to91read. There are concerns amongst some critics that the theory which underliesreader-response may make a feminist reading impossible. Schweikart (1986) andCorcoran (1990) express concern with reader-response theory because they believeit does not take into account the social construction of meaning, (as explained inmore detail in chapter 2). From a theoretical point of view, reader-response canonly produce "active readers" (Corcoran, 1990 p. 134) who use the text "to seemore clearly who they are, how they feel, react, and think" (Probst, 198 p. 5) oruse their own life experience to find out what the text "means." This does notproduce resistant readers. Reader-response as a pedagogy rather than a theory ofreading also presents a difficulty. Much of the practice of response journal writingand discussion encourages an emphasis on the reader, and what the text becomesfor that reader, as it is read. In this way, a view of reading proposed by Bleich(1978), in which the text can become somewhat secondary to its effects on thereader, is encouraged in the classroom. Therefore, it is questionable whether thispedagogy, as commonly practised in schools, will result in an understanding ofliterature which "is to go after ways in which writing does not so much mirror orreflect a given reality but how it constitutes that reality and how it writes out aresponse to it" (Willinsky, 1991 p. 19) More specifically, it is questionablewhether reader-response alone will enable students to see how gender isconstructed. In order to learn the way texts work and recognise the codes and beaware of the interpellation, students need to be taken beyond reader-response.They need help to focus on the text and this in part will involve them in some92close textual criticism as they try to see what is signified by the language.This leads me to suggest that the reader-response pedagogy alone, in whichstudents are not directed to textual analysis, will not produce a feminist reading.This is demonstrated in section (p. 55) where the group of students aremaking of the text what they can and developing their own critique of themeaning of love in Romeo and Juliet. As the extract shows, I had to interveneand ask them to attend to the workguide which prompted them to analyse the textof the play using questions from The Fearful Passage to reveal the feministcritique. In section 4.2.3 (p. 65) there is evidence that the same group engagedin a feminist analysis as a consequence of this intervention. This suggests thatstudents need to be taught to analyse the text using the kinds of interventionsfound in The Fearful Passage to lead them into the discussion and questioningculminating in a feminist critique. More generally, I conclude from this that ifstudents are to be made conscious of the socially constructed signifieds, they needhelp. This raises questions about how we teach reading and literature.Reader response pedagogy did, however, play a part in moving students tosome form of feminist pattern of engagement. By providing a way for thestudents to bring their own opinions and interpretations to the play, it ensured thatthe students felt in control of their own analysis and this dissipated some of theresistance. A common reply to a question about the teaching of the course (thirdquestionnaire Appendix F) confirms that the students did not feel too constrained93to produce a feminist response. In his interview, Llorn said, "You did not preachto us. You let us make up our own minds." This attitude to the teaching existedamong other students because there were similar replies in the questionnaires. Ibelieve this attitude to the teaching played a big part in ending the antagonismnoted as a characteristic of the uninvolved conventional pattern of engagement.The fact that the students did not feel they were having the critique forced onthem predisposed them to engage with some of the ideas once the ideas wererevealed to the students and "seen" by them. In this way, the pedagogycontributed to some form of feminist engagement. The students feeling theycould make up their own minds also satisfies one of the requirements of thedesign for the study. As explained in chapter 3, the study was designed usingsome reader-response pedagogy so that students would not feel too constrained.The very fact that they constructed their own critiques bears witness to the factthat they did not feel forced into the feminismReader-response pedagogy enables students to bring their own experienceof life to bear on their critique and address topics which are important to them.As described in section (p. 51), these critiques were a feature of theconventional response pattern. It seems that some students need to develop theirown critique and only then will they address the feminist critique. In addressingthis critique, they build on their own construct of the play, and integrate the newideas into their original constructs. There is evidence of this in the extracts of thegroup discussions in section (p. 54) and 4.2.3 (p. 66). Therefore, the94conventional critiques produced by the reader-response pedagogy were necessaryto engage students in the course and to enable them to integrate the feministcritique. In all these ways, reader-response pedagogy contributed to some formof feminist engagement pattern.Attitudes and values as well as ways of reading seem to contribute to thepatterns of student engagement although to some extent this is an artificialdivision as attitudes and values are written into the language. Students' viewsabout feminism at the beginning of the study may have influenced their patternof engagement. This definitely seemed to be a factor in the uninvolvedconventional pattern of engagement, as was discussed in section 4.1.4 (p. 59). Inthat discussion, it was noted that a student claimed that the boys whose responsesshowed the uninvolved conventional pattern may have engaged in this way as areaction to the way feminism is stereotyped by society. There is other evidencein chapter 4 which suggest that views of feminism may have influenced somestudents. I refer to the comments by Johnny that his group may not have sowillingly accepted the reading of the place of the feud in the socialisation of theyoung men had they known this was a feminist reading (see section 4.3.2, p. 84).Another student who showed an inconsistent pattern of engagement also spoke ofdifficulties with the idea of feminism (see section 4.3.2, p. 85).If adverse attitudes to feminism influenced the patterns of engagement,then the converse may also be true. Positive attitudes may have led to a feministpattern of engagement such as those described in section 4.2.1 (p. 62). The95curiousity shown in the responses to the questionnaire and the sense ofcommitment to the idea of a feminist critique should make engaging in a feministpattern more likely. However, I would suggest that these views matter less thanmight be thought, because students' understanding of feminism changedthroughout the course. Many students did not expect the kind of critique that wastaught to them. This was evident in the second questionnaire, which wasadministered in the middle of the study. Students were asked about the feministcritique which they were being taught. Students wrote that they did not think theywere doing a feminist study. This may have been because they had expected thekind of adversarial approach characterised as feminism by the press. It alsosuggests that the focus on social construction, in which the students examined thesocialisation of the young people, did not seem to be feminism to many students.Therefore, whatever views of feminism they brought into the study may well havechanged as the study progressed and so these views were not a major factor ininfluencing their patterns of engagement.The social construction of the male gender was problematic for somestudents and this contributed to them failing to achieve a full feminist pattern ofengagement. A common pattern of engagement was to achieve a reading ofJuliet which was consistent with the principles of feminist criticism but to fail toachieve as full or as searching a reading of the place of the feud in thesocialisation of the young men (see section 4.3.1, p. 81). The difficulty was96shown by omission and argument. For example, in section 4.3.1 (p. 81). Ryanmakes a good critique of the social influences on the behaviour of Juliet, but failsto recognise any similar influences on the young men. He just did not see it.In section (p. 56), there is a very telling analysis by a male student,Jason. As described in that section, he rejects Kahn's reading (1981) of the placeof the feud in a patriarchal society. However, in his rejection, he acknowledgessocial construction of behaviour and gender roles and shows empathy with theyoung males of Verona. He writes of how their aggressive stance was just afront, because Romeo, as representative of these young men, had shown that hecould love a woman. He likens the necessity of the young males in the play toassume an aggressive stance to the need of young males today to do the samething. His argument is that this aggressive stance signifies nothing. Therefore,he is accepting that society demands a certain form of behaviour, showingempathy with the young males of Verona, but in the end rejecting that thisbehaviour has any real significance. Ultimately, he is suggesting that thebehavioural expectations placed on males in society is not a problem. Therefore,one of the factors at work in some of the students' responses to this part of thecritique may be a belief that there is nothing wrong with things as they are interms of male behaviour.Another reason why this particular aspect of the feminist critique was notso deeply analysed by many students may be that they were more familiar withsocialisation as it applies to women. When discussing Juliet's predicament, it was97obvious to all the students that her plight was unjust. There is evidence ofempathy with her situation in the data (section 4.2.2, p. 64) and some studentswent on to analyse how her situation was a product of the construction of femaleexpectations by society. Traditionally, women have been seen to be formed andmolded by family and husband. The topic of arranged marriages within certaincommunities in Vancouver and the topic of the limited choices for women inoccupations is familiar to the students. They are familiar with the idea that inmodern society, women are still limited in what they can expect. They may notbe as familiar with the notion that expectations of masculinity are sociallyproduced. Even if they are familiar with this, I suggest that they do not see thesocial construction of maleness as limiting and problematic in the same way thatthey see societal expectations of females. I suspect that the ideas of malenessbeing a social construct, together with it being a problem, were uncomfortablearguments for some. The data was not analysed to show distinction betweenfemale and male students, but it would be of interest to confirm my suspicion thatthe boys found this a much more difficult concept to deal with. In a society inwhich independence and individual responsibility and toughness is still expectedof young men, exploring ideas which suggest that their behaviour is not a productof their own individualism may have been threatening.One of the characteristics of the feminist pattern of engagement was theconnections made between the feminist critique and the world in which the98students live. As the extracts demonstrate (section 4.2.4, P. 70), the students triedto find reasons for the historic treatment of women, they related the critique tomodern situations and some found similarities between the behaviour of the youngmales of Verona and the young males of today. It is possible that it is this senseof relevance that moved these students to read against the grain and make senseof the feminist critique. Another way of describing this is to say they found asense of purpose in the study. It may be this that moved them from aconventional or inconsistent pattern of engagement. It is not possible to say,however, whether the sense of relevance and purpose of the study came beforeattempting the critique or as a consequence of understanding the critique.However, I believe its existence is significant, as a similar characteristic was notfound in conventional or inconsistent responses.ConclusionDuring the study, students showed three patterns of engagement with theplay: conventional, feminist and inconsistent. In the feminist and inconsistentpatterns of engagement, there is evidence of engagement with the feministcritique. In the conventional pattern of engagement, there is no evidence ofengagement with the feminist critique. The presence of the inconsistent pattern andthe feminist pattern, in which students articulated to varying degrees the feministcritique shows that it is possible to teach a feminist reading and have a profitable99experience in the classroom. The energy and liveliness of the students' commentsis evidence of the interest and enjoyment they experienced during the course. Thishas ramifications for the teaching of literature and for the wider curriculum.The introduction to this study noted the intention of the British ColumbiaMinistry of Education to promote gender equity within the school system. Theresults of this study have demonstrated that it is possible to have a meaningfuldiscussion of these issues in the classroom. The study has also shown that it ispossible to teach students that gender is a social construct and that the way it isconstructed is open to debate. This could also be taught through other areas of thecurriculum. The need for this is apparent as many of the students in the studywere in favour of introducing a feminist critique into other subject areas but couldnot see it applicable to any subject except English and social studies. The studyhas shown that if the teaching material is well designed, students can engage inproductive debate about gender and this leads to the recommendation that studentsare given opportunities to explore gender both in English and across a wider areaof subjects.In the introduction to this study it was noted that the study of Shakespearesignifies specific meanings within the wider population. As an illustration of this,reference was made to a British Minister of Education who recommended thereading of Romeo and Juliet by fourteen year old young people because hebelieved some cultural and moral value to reside within the text. This is anexample of Shakespeare being used as a cultural icon in which it is assumed that100the play has universal meaning to all readers. Feminist critics dispute this claimabout Shakespeare, as was made clear in chapter 2. This study has demonstratedthat it is possible to read Shakespeare without subscribing to notions of hisuniversal meaning. This suggests that it will be possible to read other classics ina way which reveals the socially constructed signifieds in their text. This is adevelopment of the English curriculum which should be explored.The study also demonstrated that it was possible for some of theparticipants in the study to resist the text and thereby reveal the encoded socialconstructs associated with gender. This suggests that students can be taught to readso that they are aware of how texts are constructed and how texts construct theirown reading. Further research into the kind of resistant reading recommended byCorcoran (1990) and Willinsky (1992) could prove to be worthwhile.101BibliographyAlice in Genderland. (1985). Sheffield, England: The National Association for the Teachingof English. Broomgrove Road, Sheffield.Applebee, A. N. (1990). "Book-length works taught in high school English courses." ERICClearing house on reading and communication skills. Digest. EDO-CS-90-05Ausubel, D. P. (1968).  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Marxism and the philosophy of language cited in Eagleton, T.Literary Theory p. 116. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press.Vygotsky, L. (1962) Thought and Language Cambridge, M.A. : the M.I.T. PressWillinsky, J. (1985). From feminist literary criticism certain classroom splendours. English Quarterly, 18 (3) pp. 35-43Willinsky, J. (1992). "Into the postmodern. The (im)mediacy of literacy. UpDate, 34 (2) pp.16-24.Willinsky, J. (1990). The new literacy. Redefining reading and writing in schools. New York:Routledge.Willinsky, J. & Bedard, J.(1989). The Fearful Passage: Romeo and Juliet in the High School. A Feminist Perspective.  Ottawa: CCTE Monographs and Special Publications.Yin, R. K. (1989). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage Publications.105Appendices106Appendix AQuestionnaire 1Introduction to Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare1 What do you think the play is about? Write about a paragraph.2.,^How did you acquire your knowledge of the play? Think hardabout ways in which you may have gained an understanding of tiwplay before you actually saw it or read it.3 What do you think taking a feminist point of view of Lhe playmeans?4 How do you feel about doing a feminist study?Appendix A cont.Questionnaire 2Romeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareHalf way questionnaire:1 What do you think taking a feminist point of view of the playmeans?2 How do you feel about doing a feminist study?3 What do you have to say about the way it is being Laught?APPENDIX .aa szr^cy^c—s I^t C"..)^/"Q'^77? ar^.c.=,. .7 ZIe tl I> )0. ZS' aa age ar air jc■^r- sirThis unit on Romeo and Juliet is based on a new kind of attentionbeing given to Shakespeare which takes a special interest in therelationship between men and women.Below are ideas and questions to keep in mind as you watch theplay, read the play and write your Journal.The uncanny nature of Jove.Notice how beliefs about love and its sexual expression differamongst the characters. Notice what the poetry used by thecharacters tells you about their attitudes to love.Notice the expressions and limits to love in the Capulet family.Why is the love:of Romeo and Juliet such a challenge to life inVerona?The Feud1 Notice and comment on the part the feud plays in the lives ofthe young men.2 Though Juliet may seem to be protected from the feud, shesuffers as much as any one. Comment.3 Romeo also becomes embroiled in the feud and suffers. Noticeand comment on the part that gender plays in the different natureof their suffering.4 Notice and comment on the fact that the deaths of Romeo andJuliet are able to bring the feud to an end in the way theprevious deaths could not.Expectations and Naming1 Notice and comment on the obligations of children to theirfathers in this play and how these differ by gender.2 Consider what expectations would be placed on Juliet as aCapulet, a daughter and a woman and notice what Juliet does withthese expectations.APPE xi DIXHomeworki to be done by April 6th.This is to help you read and comment on the play.The version of Romeo and Juliet you are watching is Just thatl aversion of the play.^Ms. Hughes described it as Zefferelli'sessay on Romeo and Juliet. Any production is a version or essayon the play. The only way to decide on your own meaning of theplay is to read the script. These notes are to help you read thewords Shakespeare wrote and incorporate the ideas into yourResponse Journal.Section 1 Act 1 scene 5You have already written about the Capulet- ball in your lastJournal, but do this section at the start of today's homework.If you have already made a comment on the points I raise here,then do not repeat yourself-life is too short.f 1 Comment on Capulet's reaction to Tybalt's aggression. (L.59-87)'Did you notice a change that Zefferelli made to the script here?-\When Romeo first sees Juliet, (Act 1 sc. 5 L.43 ) what do you-)think of the imagery he uses? 4 ow is Juliet described in thisspeech (L.43-51)7When Romeo and Juliet first meet, they have a conversation aboutpalms. (L.92-105)^Notice that this is in the form of a shared.,sonnet.Li:Try to work out the rhyme scheme.Use the notes in your book to understand what they are saying toeach other._,What do you think of the choice of imagery?4lDo you think the sonnet form influences how you regard the(meeting?7)Compare the imagery Romeo uses in sc. 5 with the imagery in Act1 cc 1 L.206-225 MAKE A NOTE TO ADD THESE IMAGES TO THE METAPHORSHEET.The Balcony Scene Act 2 sc.2r'14 will study this in more detail in class.^In your Journal,c./write down what you think of Romeo and Juliet-P-4-words at thispoint.^Can you think specifically of what their words tell you. , about^love, the^feud^and their^expectations in^life?, (Expectations are what we expect to be our opportunities andrestrictions in life, based on the situation into which we are.born.)Friar Lawrence and Romeo Act 2 sc.3In addition to your own comments'/: Quote words (with line reference) spoken by Friar Lawrence which. tell the audience how to regard Romeo's feelings about Rosaline.What impression do you get of Romeo from Friar Lawrence?t tCAPPEN.DIX C CoNT.Romeo and friends ^Act 2 sc.4In addition to your own comments'This is the morning after the 8a11.2Nhat is the tone hare? Whatattitude to Romeo's antics do his friends show? See L.45-50/2)Comment on Mercutio's speech L.88-93Why, is not this better^ in a hole'What do you think Zefferelli was doing with this scene?,,Comment on Romeo's part in the song word playsAn old hare hoar..Juliet waiting. Act 2 sc. 5 In your comments notice the poetry as well as the humour.^What1.'are we learning about Juliet?Act 3 sc.1 The Duel In addition to your own comments:11) Why do you think Zefferelli chose to make such play with thisI. scene?/. Comment on lines L.111-117 ie Romeo's speech before Benvolio re-enters after taking the injured Mercutio off-stage.): Comment on Romeo's words L.121-122 Just before Tybalt re-enters..What do you think is their dramatic function.Act 3 sc. 2 Juliet's Epithalamium In addition to your own comments:)1t In a phrase, how would you describe her mood? Which words and^,;.\ metaphors contribute to this?^Make sure all the metaphors youidentify are written on your metaphor chart. Considering she isa new bride, how would you describe her attitude?Make sure you comment on her response to the tragic news.-readthe words!^ - - - - - - -Act 3 sc.3 Romeo's reaction to his predicament. V^In addition to your own comments:...Is Romeo's reaction different from Juliet's?END OF HOMEWORK FOR THE WEEKEND4-4,14 4.cp144444^;e-42A4A.c4.1,1-^a4y. iL(ke^shotat ?^cet yo-c(,77\ 1 1,b C/Dr-,3 a/kJ/lb^9 ?Leta-6-^ffe. a it4‘git 141c - r .^,%'Ind 4 leiLe^- 4 __EL,^zroitiz70-Z2^ 7721-"vie,c...e-i/t-e. ?6)/..t)ka.c a tim. eo-PIALerm,e-e.^/-icr2 CeArrtma 7cc°,APPEND I)(' ;0 Mitcs^144144 -7 j tiANuci TIA es .ki a 3^24  —t ad.e/(z)-A.^ru-t- atAgm ce/4444-tv.itCr:#(6 C4114 pvt.c.".t &IA /att.( „• tak' dra-4KA /11,61,440-44e-t 3 SC^- Ji adacrali 10 rec., mot G4V1,14.IStCA4Z?le (tubule 7co I 4.4.) do ru k e a 6-0-c4^ta.,0 to-v.eil^,11,24.e rct 60.ey 4,22a lefrrAe ayirciLtri to-rua LLd 4^a2A^adzpi.e ? v /bt d q/440,4 -1(144e. ge Aqcy- 40‘..4-74,1 do ra /4,04'^s 614-u2w ?IVezcc /Q it7 ifte_ /wetly 14.sei rA4ceprcrw- (4 -44 a/Akio( hAZ^&-c.e -441-zo eleAut.^ilrzku /et7Ate-61 1^42,f/t tze.uft ltu . lact-6.fl sict-t4) eil7-t-eGt^Wificr .4k2. frte#42 cuptid loc,4^04fty.c4c-ciad iodku ?Lft.e Cove< art .eA.-e-e(jvc- ,4,02At.e.4AJ^i e-fA.^04.12.r6L^—^); ^el.C144"ed4/6 ell 42 etcru.41 44.7-074 ? cAb -Them.4_^—Etal 06 ()lc Azipd 7`r:/5^015" •^6t;/(ti,•a.tok .^pLaall etrim Aitut,aAztt ar4(4 exyt 12--io 4.4:4 O? L41#sikLie scowAe,t^5cAPPENDIX C coNT.Act = il-k eadi.i1.0% /0 eno-m eo--,14.41.42.fru6 ;Y&4t"A/0-na b,t 4^L 7 7g 414- •^-104a,t^g..12^morio•-a^/z"--u.9 )—^ —?wo_ct_e,1^6au4^L 1 tJ 106 Ca t-tj rertAu Ge144/1-&-C-a-Q4244,C51,1^V-acti^•Ge-14-t tkv244,6/414) do lo-u-^.g-c4142-6M/yaz^va_c-iteaZet,e.^.tteA,^cud„r,^slta. 1-zukal^fe-cao-tk —L /zit - 5F .6-;;I!^doI aiL 1(t.z.4rtt 61ed a-Gincitre e^ae/kci Zaciy 6yjapad- ?A.6 5 sc I,oggt,z4:e 147A R 1 42104^4aEl eur:34-gu26, cattriya,,74,kvv.A.,41? Y 3 lti-c6^/cud&iltt'ittla_^; \AMA -r bo6 71L 1:104 /"11s5  ouT .2 ^ _-^1 6 O 1 6. a , . moorctf.bag( HQ. te:tAuA^i- la_^- q^04- 1_01 zi (tztMiet•-1^1'^Vouk rINIII., CD rill ci•l-r- ON The P4/9Y.Ssc,,ifi.tb)o-k iL1 &citcpck -/-Wt co-Pwel^sir4,&^Pni-;udLj^/6,-1,te^L, 71/ ---- /07 0) co,I 04.14-oe4 ited kore4Za/rai2C^f&tg^#0-to a yo-citoiAa:6 tka4 Itavekrd E-E-,1-Act-ktee'144 fliCCA.L1 AC.12,ti 2 00-144.12.APPENDIX-1"- ee^1 c cu^8c rn eaNames of group members(Hand in this paper at the end of class)We are going to look at the part Juliet plays in this famousscene and compare her language and concerns with Romeo's.On this sheet, you are going to make your comments on what Romeoand Juliet actually say. Using this work, some groups will becalled on to show their interpretation by the way they performthe scene.Keep in mind what we already know of the two characters:* the attitude of Juliet's family to her future* what Juliet says to her mother about the family plans for hermarriage* Romeo's affair with Rosaline* the tone and attitude towards love shown by his "gang" of friends.1 They both speak privately about their new love. Compare whatthey actually say as they muse aloud. What are their concerns?Hear my comments on the part naming plays in patriarchy.iR c, iv\ c 02 When they start to speak, compare the nature of Romeo'scomments with the nature of Juliet's. Is there a difference inthe way they speak? Is there a difference in the concerns theyexpress and the affirmations they make?3 **** Continue your chart through the whole scene ie to the endof act 2 scene 2114To Do 4F7-61( You NAVE 1/00kleEDOtV 7-114 13 A coNAPPENDIX F"k/V oR KIN 6-^Ti-14 TI-14MCRos^A1 - OF rHE F041,014)146-S Ec-TIDN5 Love, Friendship, Expectations, Tragedy, and the CriticsThese questions on Romeo and Juliet arc part of a new kind ofattention that is being paid to Shakespeare. This attention takes aspecial interest in the relationship between women and men. Shake-speare was particularly good at making these relationships comealive on the stage. Though the different parts of the individualquestions can be answered separately, they are grouped together toassist you in seeing the connections between the actions, charactersand ideas in the play.1. If Romeo and Juliet is a play about love, then this love is Playedout in almost all of its forms here. Each character in the playtalks'about love a little differently. It leaves us to question whatlove is about.a) To get a start on the sense of love in the play, examine theviews of Juliet's parents. Capulet (in the second scene) andLady Capulet (in the third scene) speak of Juliet and herfuture in love and marriage. 'What does their talk aboutand to Juliet suggest about their views and experiences oflove?b) The supporting actors provide a background of views onlove. These views are in strong contrast with what Juliet andRomeo try to prove with their love. Gather comments onlove and relationships from Mercutio, the Nurse, and FriarLaurence. For each of them, try to pinpoint one thing whichthey see as important about love.c) No one in the play makes more of love than Romeo. Examineclosely what he says about Rosaline in the first scene andabout Juliet in Act 2, Scene 2. Quote the most poetic linesabout love from each, for Romeo is the poet of love in thisplay. Working from these lines, summarize what Romeothinks of most in these women that he loves.d) Juliet in love can seem more sensible and cautious thanRomeo. By focusing on the balcony scene (Act 2, Scene 2),find the expressions of her different responses to love. Com-pare the attitudes of Juliet and Romeo to love as capturedin this important scene.* * *LJ APPEND / XThis play of love also has its great and deep friendships. Romeohas his friend Mercutio and Juliet has her nurse. They getplenty of advice and some teasing from these two friends. Yetas part of the tragedy, they lose these friendships.a) One way of comparing the friendships of Juliet and Romeois to consider the chances each of them had to make friends.How did this opportunity to make friends differ for youngmen and women in those times?b) The advice Romeo gets from Mercutio and Juliet from theNurse, especially the advice about love, changes during theplay. Pick one of the two friendships and find evidence ofthe change in advice. Consider what might lie behind thischange of heart on the part of Mercutio with Romeo or theNurse with Juliet.c) Describe how the love of Juliet and Romeo finally comes be-tween their friendships with the Nurse and Mercutio. Com-pare what separates Romeo from his friend with what sepa-rates Juliet from hers.* * *3. In this play, people are expected to live up to certain roles asdaughters or sons; they also have special demands made on themas Capulets and Montagues because of the feud.a) In order to capture Capulet's expectations of his daughterJuliet, examine the words he uses to refers to her when firstspeaking to her suitor Paris (Act 1, Scene 2), in his rageover her (Act 3, Scene 5), and, finally, in his grief over herapparent death (Act 4, Scene 5).b) Compare the parental control exercised over Juliet and Romeo.A good place to begin with this comparison is in the firstscene for the comments of Romeo's parents, the Montagues,and in the first and second scenes for Juliet and the Capulets.c) Women in those times often seem less free than the men.How does Shakespeare turn these differences to Juliet's credit-and make them become signs of her strength? That is, inwhat ways is she made more daring than other charactersin the play, whether her mot her or I lie Nurse? Compare herbravery with the courage of Runic°.* * *APPembrx E The expressions 'coming of age' and 'rites of passage' refer tothe steps that everyone takes in growing up. Romeo and Julietcan be said to be a play about coming of age, though not a veryhappy one.a) How do the young men of Verona in this play prove them-selves in public to be men? Where do the young womenprove themselves ready for adulthood? Consider the role ofthe feud and the feast as part of this growing up.b) Young men came of age in one way in those times and theyoung women in another way. How do the differences pre-pare them for their eventual roles as adult men and women,such as Capulet and Lady Capulet?c) In what ways do Juliet and Romeo break with the typicalpattern for coming of age in Verona? Why do they risk it?Does one of them have to make a bigger break than the otherbecause of life in Verona?* * *The feud between the Capulets and the Montagues is full ofsport and danger when it hits the streets. It sometimes providesa chance for fun; at other times, for death.a) If the cause has been forgotten for this "ancient grudge," forwhat reasons do they go on fighting? Consider what leads tothe drawing of swords in both the feud scenes (Act 1, Scene1; Act 3, Scene 1).b) What does the feud mean to the men of Verona? What doesit mean to the women? Describe how Romeo and Juliet eachdefy what the feud is supposed to mean to them as man andwoman.c) Shakespeare borrowed the story of two young lovers caughtin a feud from an earlier writer. Though he changed some ofthe story's features, he kept and made good use of the feud.Describe how he uses the feud at different points in the playto make these two lovers seem both braver and more tragic.d) The deaths of Juliet and Romeo end the feud. But was thefeud the only cause of their death; was it the only complica-tion to their love? Can you describe the ways in which thelove of Juliet and Romeo was a stand taken against morethan the feud?(11firrcp411 AThe force of this play depends on our feeling for Juliet andRomeo. In fact, we may feel that they have lost somethinggreater than their own lives. Their deaths make the play into atragedy because of who they are and what they tried for.a.) One way to discover what personal qualities Juliet and Romeohave is to examine what they say in important situations.Pick one or two crucial scenes for either Romeo or Juliet,and describe what Romeo or Juliet is like in a difficult sit-uation. Find examples of qualities the one shows, such ascourage, strength, cleverness, imagination, or others thatyou can find.b) To compare the characters of Juliet and Romeo, take a scenein which they arc together. Find in their lines how Shake-speare has made them different, in outlook. Why arc the dif-ferences important to feelings for them? How has he madethem alike in their thinking?c) In describing this tragedy, perhaps the best one can do is torealize what has been lost to Verona by their suicides. Whathad they to offer and to teach this town?* * *7. The questions in this unit have been guided by "feminist literarycriticism." The women 'and men who write this form of criticismhave a special interest in the place of women in the works ofShakespeare and other literature. The have found that womenhave not always been treated fairly in the plays or in the studyof them. The following quotations about Romeo and Juliet aretaken from the works of three of these writers. Theirs is notthe only way to read this play. It puts forward ideas that arechallenging and can be challenged. Find support or denial inthe play for one of the following statements:"Shakespeare saw men and women as equal in a world which0made them unequal" (Juliet Dusinberre, Shakespeare andthe Nature of Women, p. 308).b) "The play's uniqueness lies in its portrait of a young girlwho remains strong during her swift growth to womanhood"(Irene Dash, Wooing, Wedding, and Power: Women in Shake-ospeare's Plays, p. 93)."The feud i,oers in the sons fear and scorn of women, as-sociating women with effeminacy and emasculation, while itlinks sexuAl intercourse with aggression and violence againstwomen, rather than pleasure and love" (Coppclia Kahn,Man's Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare, p. 17).Yi,tka & 7'71or -7L.ed-0 (31 C.4ct,e(.E./Act optentt11?Pi)tN J> 1^F^ OtteA4lorkilcui:e^FAA464 Cachk ottio EvEK 4/9"4/cTh y,^kALE^Fe /-7144(41'r "Ulkt 64)" 1:49 2)4-e- ce0 rt.(^Xtiatsea iptuA4,6 fui4rezve mizzA.42 UNA/6 Oed^A.,A0(^‘te^I d t 4124 6C-JaMiel1.1/141/1"<6,14-t Or at=fr^"/itat r_ete/cee ?3. llamd 7M44 C-19-“4-4e.^ dip-e/4,4ogid-^rv,sdo0C7edota-me-v-te410 Ma% a 61/Lat`g^focu,r4.44^Wt.e ,?uiwke-tt a-be/-Azit,k4k 7114-64 --44)egivau6. 4) /viit^yo-ct hieix^saff eili-efut^409e ee-- coL2.4laqh ithoci/6 4,ot,14 sefrc-{ dog( A3 c ,yak -egaii,‘ a,4tad at,ta rov "Akd amp/ /4-atifdy„at do-u 49( Act etke .4,141 10v^/4-t- ‘0712gAiu,A1.-f,^7)691,,1 HA E /F-PIA^mg,ke_ ariv e6-rh-c_t2r-cc,t/ care culd/o-v a-I/v:64;r^,^S-6:441-611 7.42(ut itoyo^/ZuL^44xit&t^46AI?OUA WAtiE irmr-ft. or orwur I I critStr( i APPEAlb I^(7.•■■•••r-5^Al cy-Rou!AN1 iv ett I N &Com 1QP4 T OF PR 1-5 ENTNTioNt^4-Fr wrtv ENEss OF FR. g'S EN T/ T101¼1.Lt /1) EAS cuipt A RC-UK-M/5piku6ireet •mi•IANTEVALWITE^.1CVALLurfE^0C tuniTs +^Es17 DNS You Loiso "TO ASK THE 6-k0U.P•••alx2ezdtaiggar#24samtlaviszinavaaturekranagoztviauktedrakt.otrattittadlim•Likbek.446":4ete...oalo.,


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