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Plays of William Shakespeare - Essay Example

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English December 17, 2011 Plays of William Shakespeare In most plays, the plays are shaped up by the time, place, culture, values and the audiences. This is illustrated through the plays of Shakespeare plays – Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, The Tempest, Richard III, and Othello…
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Plays of William Shakespeare
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Plays of William Shakespeare

Everything in life had its place and every individual was expected to respect the social hierarchy. The Elizabethan age had its own unique rules about the social structures in the society and people were bound by the social rules. The main objectives of these rules were to ensure that the society followed a certain social values and that the class structured is maintained in the society. In his plays – Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, The Tempest, Richard III, and Othello Shakespeare certainly addresses the idea of an ordered society as well. In all the plays these characters both uphold and break down assumptions about the ordered world in Shakespeare’s time by conforming to the society’s values and at the same time breaking the social order. In Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice is the slave of a pert tongue. She is extremely intellect, wild and strong. Unlike the other female characters in the play, she does not want to bow down to the patriarchal rule. In the patriarchal society of the play, the women are governed by values of the society imposed by the men. Men in turn are governed by their expectations in their women. Male superiority and the subordination of women are seen throughout the play. This is mainly because of the fact that during that period men were considered to be superior in the society. The character of Beatrice does not conform to the typical characterization of the Elizabethan time, but it must also be kept in mind that this may be done to portray the strong characters in a farcical way. Beatrice is portrayed as a strong character who speaks her mind. Her pert tongue and her quick thinking can be seen when with her sharp reply to Benedick, “It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuffed man, but for the stuffing - well, we are all mortal" (Shakespeare). She often uses her wit and play with words to win an argument. This type of attitude and wit in a woman is rarely portrayed in Elizabethan era where women were treated as second class citizens. By portraying Beatrice as a witty, clever and strong character, Shakespeare breaks the social order of the women’s role in a society. In the play The Tempest, Shakespeare dissolves the society and embraces a new social order. In the play, Caliban is portrayed as the offspring’s of the devil and a witch, but at the same time he represents the creature of the earth. Throughout the play, he is referred many times as "natural man”, this is in sharp contrast to the Elizabethan social order. Like the character portrayal of Beatrice in “Much Ado about nothing” Caliban is given a place in a society which breaks the rigid social stratification. Caliban does not follow the social hierarchy by refusing to be under anyone’s control. Caliban acts on his own instincts and cannot be suppressed by Prospero as he loves his freedom. He made it very clear that he is the rightful owner of the Island, “I must eat my dinner. This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother, which thou tak'st from me. When thou cam'st first” (Shakespeare). This breaks down the social hierarchy as any land belongs to the king and cannot be claimed by people of lower status. But, then again, we also see the obvious social implications regarding the hierarchy, with the representations of Caliban’s character. In Shakespearean time, the social classification was rigid and he illustrates this rigid social structure throughout the play. He exemplifies how men of a certain ... Read More
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