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Gender, Power, Authority & Violence in Shakespearean Drama

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According to the research findings, it can, therefore, be said that when we talk about a great playwright like Shakespeare, a wide range of his plays and productions, often have some challenging new things to say about them and lays bare some of the deeper meanings and theatrical potential of his works. Among his most interesting essays are those on gender-symbolism. We remind us of ways in which successful productions have managed to convey some of their social or political concerns to the present day audience.  Bruce R. Smith while examining gender and Shakespeare helps us travel across the scholarly terrain, building a complex understanding of Elizabethan male identity from a critical vantage point.

He outlines various ideas of masculinity and manliness and what it was to be a man in Shakespeare’s time, the values men shared, rejected, feared or strove towards. On the other hand, Carol Rutter beginning here and now in the late- twentieth-century Shakespearean stage, questions and analyses the inherited pattern of dramatic representations of Shakespeare’s female figures and the ways in which some recent productions, overlook, marginalize and reveal modern prejudices towards certain female characters. The gender examination of both these Shakespearean critics could not be more different. In Taming of the Shrew, the main character Katherina is a domineering, sharp-tongued and an opinionated woman. Throughout Padua, she was widely reputed as a foul-tempered girl who constantly insulted and degraded the men around her. She is prone to such a wild display of anger that she physically attacks anyone who enrages her. Like other plays of Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew lends a lot of interpretations, onstage and the literary criticism. Moreover, according to the modern interpretation, the play is further complicated by the central issues as to what role men and women can, and should play in the society and in relationship to each other.

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