Shakespeare’s Advanced Views of Women in the Merchant of Venice

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Shakespeare’s Advanced Views of Women in The Merchant of Venice The way women are portrayed in society has evolved throughout the centuries. In the past, women were looked down upon and were not seen as strong, or equal; they were not trusted nor were they able to have a say in anything. In William Shakespeare’s, The Merchant of Venice however, Shakespeare demonstrates an advanced view of women for the time period he resided in. Throughout the play, the women express their high value and confidence through their courage and strong wills. Courageous acts from the women in Elizabethan times were very uncommon, as the women generally relied on men to protect them. The female characters display intelligence and cleverness through their acts and decisions. Often times, women were portrayed as light headed, and unintelligent in Shakespeare’s other works (JanTutor). The women in the play prove their assertiveness and independence as they take a stand for what is right. Independence for women in Elizabethan times was not important; they were known to be frail and weak. Shakespeare contradicts the perceived views of women in the 16th century through his portrayal of women in The Merchant of Venice. The female characters are courageous and strong willed; they display this through their thoughts and decisions during the difficult situations they are put in. It was common in the 16th century for fathers to choose who their precious daughters will marry. With that being said, the women generally would not have any say in who they may marry. In the play, Portia expresses that she has enough courage to not settle into a forced relationship. During her conversation with her good friend, Nerissa, she whines as she exclaims, “O, me, the word ‘choose’! I may neither / who I would nor refuse who I dislike; so is the / will of a living daughter curbed by the wall of a dead /

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