Radical vs Conservative Women in Shakespeare

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English 220-33 02/26/14 The English believed whenever a female ruled England, she would always bring England to stability from disaster. In the Elizabethean Era, the English had wondrous success in not only political strife but also in women's recognition which came to mainly due to the success of forty long years under The Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth's rule. Yet, despite the prominent, female power Queen Elizabeth inspired for women, they were still considered as “second class citizens” and beneath men. Shakespeare, who was respected by the Queen herself, depicted women's successes throughout his career in literature. In the “Merchant of Venice”, Shakespeare introduces the contrast of radical, powerful woman versus the conservative filial woman while also suggesting a woman's restrain or liberation from their stereotype depends on their social class, acceptance for themselves, and ethnicity. Since social classes already separate groups based on fortune and assets, a woman's amount of wealth directly correlates with the amount of control she has not only over other social classes, but over herself as well. Within social classes, women near the top tier have flexible power to relinquish themselves from the woman stereotype because their established power and bountiful amount of money overwhelms even those over men less wealthy compared to her. For example, Portia’s abundance of wealth both attracts and overpowers Bassanio. As Bassanio describes Portia to Antonio for the first time he immediately includes the status of her wealth in “Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth, For the four winds blow from every coast” (Shakespeare 9). Although her “worth” could have referred to her personally, the statement after concludes that she receives money well since it comes from all four directions – north, south, east, and west. Bassanio’s reasoning for marrying
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