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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shakespeare and feminism: a study of four plays Clegg, Susan Irene


Few authors of the Western stage have been as thoroughly investigated from a feminist perspective as Shakespeare. The ideological range of this debate is impressive indeed. It is a debate that has aroused emotions and that, up to the present day, continues to generate controversy. The first chapter of this thesis offers a critical survey of this discussion. Particular emphasis is given to the position taken by Juliet Dusinberre who ventures to claim that Shakespeare is close to being a kind of Elizabethan feminist. Chapters II and III investigate the role a n d fate of four Women entrapped in the societal conventions of a patriarchal system. Two paradigms of behavioural response to this system are developed. While Imogen and Rosalind are willing to stay within the boundaries of their socially acceptable roles, thus retaining life at the cost of freedom, Juliet and Cordelia attain only a glimpse of freedom at the cost of life. Dusinberre's claim of Shakespeare as a kind of Elizabethan feminist is thus disputed and ultimately disclaimed. A detailed bibliography on the issues raised by "Shakespeare and Feminism" concludes the thesis.

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