The Representation of Women in Shakespearean Texts
Dr. Devender Singh
This paper examines the representation of women in selected plays of Shakespeare. It is seen that women play, or are made to play, roles ranging from the innocent to the complex and devious, to accommodate the needs of the text and of society. It shows that the naturalisation and the universalization of the woman‘s role in different societal positions cannot be seen in isolation from hidden patriarchal figurations. The Shakespearean text cannot avoid some of the socially acceptable practices in the presentation of women characters. However, the presentation of women in Shakespeare is neither a blatant exhibition of patriarchal ideology, nor an uncritical celebration of its collapse. At crucial moments in the Shakespearean text is ambivalent on the issue of patriarchy and even in the face of its apparent collapse. The ambivalence notwithstanding, what needs to be examined is why women in Shakespeare‘s plays appear to enjoy textual and ideological space, but are ultimately made to subscribe or submit to the patriarchal order. Recent scholarship on Shakespeare has been increasingly drawn to the representation of gender in Shakespeare‘s plays.