Date of Award

7-1-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Viktor Osinubi

Second Advisor

Dr. Alma Vinyard

Abstract

This study is a feminist-based reading of three of William Shakespeare’s works: Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet. The reading, although borrowing from the feminist perspective, is not a full-blown feminist reading of Shakespeare’s works. The focus of the study comprises the social circumstances and the misogynistic actions of the male characters and how these impact on the lives of the female characters. The relationships between the male and female characters are often characterized by physical and psychological victimization arid their feelings of misery and shame, and even total destruction of life (as in the case of Desdemona and Ophelia). The three Shakespearean plays portray male rivals who take part in significant roles that cause destruction of well established relationships. The men allow their egos to persuade their decisions, attack their internal emotions, and demolish virtuous women who are forced to become victims of political intrigues and machinations. Shakespeare shows two types of women throughout the plays: women who refuse to submit to men and demand equal rights, and submissive women who carry out the roles of an Elizabethan woman. Those who followed the roles of the Elizabethan woman, which is to be submissive to men, also demonstrate that bowing down to patriarchal rules does not guarantee happiness for women. In fact, it may actually lead to their domination and victimization. Furthermore, all female characters, whether submissive or not, suffered the consequences of male dominance and victimization. However, the females who lived up to the women roles of the patriarchal society suffered more than the women who fought against male dominance.

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