The Role of Women in The Merchant of Venice: Wives and Daughters Ahead of Their Time
AuthorBazzell, Jennifer Diane
Committee ChairDickey, Jerry
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis thesis explores the role of the female characters in Williams Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice. Through contextualizing the characters of Portia, Nerissa and Jessica within the world of early modern England, this study explores the ways in which these characters do not conform to traditional Renaissance values regarding the role of women as daughters and wives. By using historical documents such as behavioral manuals, sermons, and "defenses" of women from the late sixteenth and seventeenth century, this thesis explores the ways in which Shakespeare's female characters challenge traditional social norms. Through the comparison of the female characters with Queen Elizabeth and Patient Griselda, this study discusses the implications of the rebellious behavior of the women in The Merchant of Venice. This thesis concludes that Shakespeare purposely challenges strict social views put forward on women by creating female characters who challenge male authority and are celebrated for their behavior.
Degree ProgramTheatre Arts