As You Like It

Shakespeare's Heroines College

Throughout the span of the comedies, Shakespeare allows his female characters to establish a greater amount of independence and freedom than they would have actually been allowed for the time period. This freedom is not necessarily a feminist action on Shakespeare’s part, but mainly serves to disrupt the normal standards of society so as to create a comic situation. The very concept of a feminist action was unheard of in Shakespeare’s time period. While his tragic heroines are more limited in their roles, it is the very nature of the comic heroines breaking out of their prescribed roles that allows for the unpredictable scenarios of comedy to take place. The earlier comedies present a more subdued heroine than will be seen in later comedies; however, she is nonetheless the driving force behind the direction of her play. The act of masking or disguising allows the comic heroine to express herself in a way she would have been unable to had she not pretended to be someone other than herself. Underneath her mask, however, she retains her true identity. The comic heroine does not depend solely upon her male counterpart. In Shakespeare’s festive comedies, there is a great dependence of the female characters upon each other’s...

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