Women images in Shakespeare's comedies

Темы по английскому языку » Women images in Shakespeare's comedies

I. Introduction

 

1.1 General characteristics of the work

Before making the investigation in our qualification work we should give some notions on its organization structure.

1. Theme of qualification work.

The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: “Women images in Shakespeare’s comedies” I have chosen this theme as in my opinion the role of a Woman in society is difficult to overestimate and it was Shakespeare who first took the role of women in high rank among the writors of Middle Age literary Reneissanse in Great Britain. And in comedies it is most obviously showed all the opositions of a woman’s character.

2. Actuality of the theme.

The real actual character is based on the thesis that all Shakespeare’s works remain up-to-day even though they had been writen more than three centuries ago! They do not only teach us all the best features of a women’s character but also shows us the worst which we women have. All these both good and evil we still have. One more actual character lies in purely linguistic features:The Great Bard introduced more than 10000 new English words and not in the last degree it concerns the adjectives which Shakespeare used when characterizing women in his comedies.

3. The tasks and aims of the work.

Before the beginning of writing our qualification work we set the following tasks and aims before ourselves:

1. To analyze the moral values shown in the plays.

2. To investigate the peculiarities of feminine characterization in Shakespeare’s comedies.

3. To analyze the nature of authors approach to women characters in different stages of his life.

4. To show the ways how the heroes are related to each other by finding out oppositions and correspondences between men and women.

4. The novelty of the work.

We consider that the novelty of the work is revealed in new materials of the linguists which were published in the Internet.

5. Practical significance of the work.

In our opinion the practical significance of our work is hard to be overvalued. This work reflects modern trends in linguistics and we hope it would serve as a good manual for those who wants to master modern English language by classical language of William Shakespeare.

6. Ways of scientific investigation used within the work.

The main method for compiling our work is the method of comparative analysis translation method and the method of statistical research.

7. Fields of amplification.

The present work might find a good way of implying in the following spheres:

1. In High Schools and scientific circles of linguistic kind it can be successfully used by teachers and philologists as modern material for writing research works dealing with William Shakespeare

2. It can be used by teachers of schools lyceums and colleges by teachers of English as a practical manual for teaching english literature.

3. It can be useful for everyone who wants to enlarge his/her knowledge in English.

8. Linguists worked with the theme.

As the base for our qualification work we used the works of a distinguished Russian linguists Dmitry Urnov and the noted British philologist Alfred Bates[1].

9. Content of the work.

The present qualification work consists of four parts: introduction the main part conclusion and bibliography. It also includes the appendix where some interesting Internet materials tables schemes and illustrative thematic materials were gathered. Within the introduction part which includes two items we gave the brief description of our qualification work (the first item) and gave general notion of the life and creative heritage of William Shakespeare. The main part of our qualification work includes ten thematic items. There we discussed such problems as the role of women in Shakespeare’s tragedies the tratment om women in such significant tragedies as “Hamlet” “Othello” and “Antony and Cleopatra”. We also discussed the peculiar femine characters as Ophelia Gertruda and Juliet. Moreover some supporting women parts in Shakespeare’s tragedies which are not so well-known were taken into consideration in the main part. To this part we refered the images of Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet” Cornelia and Cymbeline. In conclusion to our qualification work we studied the problem of understanding texts of Shakespeare as the language of the latter is not always clear for modern readers. In the very end of the work we gave the bibliography list of authors the works of whom we used when compiling the present qualification work. In bibliography part we mentioned more than 20 sources of which were used while compiling the present work. It includes linguistic books and articles dealing with the theme a number of used dictionaries and encyclopedias and also some internet sources. Appendices to our work include some interesting information on Shakespeare and his works.

2.1 The Genius of Shakespeare

"He was not of an age but for all time." So wrote Ben Jonson in his dedicatory verses to the memory of William Shakespeare in 1623 and so we continue to affirm today. No other writer in English or in any other language can rival the appeal that Shakespeare has enjoyed. And no one else in any artistic endeavor has projected a cultural influence as broad or as deep.

Shakespeare's words and phrases have become so familiar to us that it is sometimes with a start that we realize we have been speaking Shakespeare when we utter a cliche such as "one fell swoop" or "not a mouse stirring." Never mind that many of the expressions we hear most often--"to the manner born " or (from the same speech in Hamlet) "more honored in the breach than the observance"--are misapplied at least as frequently as they are employed with any awareness of their original context and implication. The fact remains that Shakespeare's vocabulary and Shakespeare's cadences are even more pervasive in our ordinary discourse today than the idiom of the King James Bible which Bartlett lists as only the second most plentiful source of Familiar Quotations.

And much the same could be said of those mirrors of our nature Shakespeare's characters. From small delights like Juliet's Nurse or Bottom the Weaver or the Gravedigger to such incomparable creations as Falstaff King Lear and Lady Macbeth Shakespeare has enlarged our world by imitating it. It should not surprise us therefore that personalities as vivid as these have gone on as it were to lives of their own outside the dramatic settings in which they first thought and spoke and moved. In opera alone there are enough different renderings of characters and scenes from Shakespeare's plays to assure that the devotee of Charles-Francois Gounod or Giuseppe Verdi Richard Wagner or Benjamin Britten could attend a different performance every evening for six months and never see the same work twice. Which is not to suggest of course that the composers of other musical forms have been remiss: Franz Schubert Felix Mendelssohn Robert Schumann Franz Liszt Hector Berlioz Pyotr Tchaikovsky Claude Debussy Jean Sibelius Sergey Prokofiev and Aaron Copland are but a few of the major figures who have given us songs tone poems ballets symphonic scores or other compositions based on Shakespeare. Cole Porter might well have been addressing his fellow composers when he punctuated Kiss Me Kate with the advice to "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Certainly the painters have never needed such reminders. Artists of the stature of George Romney William Blake Henry Fuseli Eugene Delacroix John Constable J. M. W. Turner and Dante Gabriel Rossetti have drawn inspiration from Shakespeare's dramatis personae; and thanks to such impresarios as the eighteenth-century dealer John Boydell the rendering of scenes from Shakespeare has long been a significant subgenre of pictorial art. Illustrators of Shakespeare editions have often been notable figures in their own right: George Cruikshank Arthur Rackham Rockwell Kent and Salvador Dali. Meanwhile the decorative arts have had their Wedgwood platters with pictures from the plays their Shakespeare portraits carved on scrimshaw their Anne Hathaway's Cottage tea cozies their mulberry-wood jewelry boxes and their Superbard T-shirts.

Every nation that has a theatrical tradition is indebted to Shakespeare and in language after language Shakespeare remains the greatest living playwright. Not merely in terms of the hundreds of productions of Shakespeare's own plays to be blazoned on the marquees in any given year either: no one must also bear in mind the dozens of film and television versions of the plays and the countless adaptations parodies and spinoffs that accent the repertory--from musicals such as The Boys from Syracuse (based on The Comedy of Errors) and West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein's New York ghetto version of the gang wars in Romeo and Juliet) to political lampoons like Macbird (contra LBJ) and Dick Deterred (the doubly punning anti-Nixon polemic) not to mention more reflective dramatic treatments such as Edward Bond's Bingo (a "biographical drama" about Shakespeare the man) and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (an absurdist re-enactment of Hamlet from the perspective of two innocents as bewildered by the court of Renaissance Elsinore as their twentieth-century counterparts would be in a play such as Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot).

When we broaden our survey to include the hundreds of novels short stories poems critical appreciations and other works of serious literature that derive in one way or another from Shakespeare we partake of an even grander view of the playwright's literary and cultural primacy. Here in America for example we can recall Ralph Waldo Emerson's awestruck response to the Stratford seer his exclamation that Shakespeare was "inconcievably wise " all other great writers only "conceivably." On the other side of the coin we can indulge in the speculation that Shakespeare may have constituted an aspect of the behemoth that obsessed Herman Melville's imagination thus accounting for some of the echoes of Shakespearean tragedy in the form and rhetoric of Moby-Dick. In a lighter vein we can chuckle at the frontier Bardolatry so hilariously exploited by the Duke and the King in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Or moving to our own century we can contemplate William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury as an extended allusion to Macbeth's "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy. Should we be disposed to look elsewhere we can puzzle over "the riddle of Shakespeare" in the meditations of the Argentine novelist and essayist Jorge Luis Borges. Or smile (with perhaps but an incomplete suspension of disbelief) as the Nobel Prize-winning African poet and dramatist Wole Soyinka quips that "Sheikh Zpeir" must have had some Arabic blood in him so faithfully did he capture the local color of Egypt in Antony and Cleopatra .

Implicit in all of these manifestations of Shakespeare worship is a perception best summed up perhaps in James Joyce's rendering of the charismatic name: "Shapesphere." For in showing "the very age and body of the time his form and pressure" (as Hamlet would put it) Shakespeare proved himself to be both the "soul of the age" his works reflected and adorned and the consummate symbol of the artist whose poetic visions transcend their local habitation and become in some mysterious way contemporaneous with "all time" (to return once more to Jonson's eulogy). If Jan Kott a twentieth-century existentialist from eastern Europe can marvel that Shakespeare is "our contemporary " then his testimony is but one more instance of the tendency of every age to claim Shakespeare as its own. Whatever else we say about Shakespeare in other words we are impelled to acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that preeminent above all others he has long stood and will no doubt long remain atop a pedestal (to recall a recent New Yorker cartoon) as "a very very very very very very important writer."

So important indeed that some of his most zealous admirers have paid him the backhand compliment of doubting that works of such surpassing genius could have been written by the same William Shakespeare who lies buried and memorialized in Stratford-upon-Avon. Plays such as the English histories would suggest in the writer an easy familiarity with the ways of kings queens and courtiers; hence their author must have been a member of the nobility someone like Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford. Plays such as Julius Caesar with their impressive display of classical learning would indicate an author with more than the "small Latin and less Greek" that Ben Jonson attributes to Shakespeare; hence the need to seek for their true begetter in the form of a university-trained scholar such as Francis Bacon. Or so would urge those skeptics (whose numbers have included such redoubtable personages as Henry James and Sigmund Freud) who find themselves in sympathy with the "anti-Stratfordians." Their ranks have never been particularly numerous or disciplined since they have often quarreled among themselves about which of the various "claimants"--the Earl of Derby Christopher Marlowe even Queen Elizabeth herself--should be upheld as the "true Shakespeare." And because many of their arguments are methodologically unsophisticated they have never attracted adherents from scholars with academic credentials in the study of English Renaissance history and dramatic literature. But whatever their limitations the anti-Stratfordians have at least helped keep us mindful of how frustratingly little we can say for certain about the life of the man whose works have so enriched the lives of succeeding generations.


II. The Main Part

 

1.2 Some words on Shakespeare’s biography

 

One thing we do know is that if Shakespeare was a man for all time he was also very much a man of his own age. Christened at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon on 26 April 1564 he grew up as the eldest of five children reared by John Shakespeare a tradesman who played an increasingly active role in the town's civic affairs as his business prospered and Mary Arden Shakespeare the daughter of a gentleman farmer from nearby Wilmcote. Whether Shakespeare was born on 23 April as tradition holds is not known; but a birth date only a few days prior to the recorded baptism seems eminently probable particularly in view of the fear his parents must have had that William like two sisters who had preceded him and one who followed might die in infancy. By the time young William was old enough to begin attending school he had a younger brother (Gilbert born in 1566) and a baby sister (Joan born in 1569). As he attained his youth he found himself with two more brothers to help look after (Richard born in 1574 and Edmund born in 1580) the younger of whom eventually followed his by-then-prominent eldest brother to London and the theater where he had a brief career as an actor before his untimely death at twenty-seven.

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