Examining Shakespeare’s Heroines In A Modern Context

Open Access
Smith, Natalie Joyce
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Susan B Russell, Thesis Supervisor
  • Susan B Russell, Honors Advisor
  • Annette Kay Mcgregor, Faculty Reader
  • Shakespeare
  • feminism
  • women
  • theatre
The purpose of my thesis is to examine Shakespeare’s heroines in a modern context so that actresses and directors have a more complete and balanced view of these characters. By evaluating Shakespeare’s text from the perspective of modern feminist writers, one is able to see more clearly the universal issues that both women of today and women of Shakespeare’s time have in common. In addition, one can better understand Shakespeare’s views on women, which in some ways could be considered “ahead of his time.” In this paper, I will look specifically at central female characters in four of Shakespeare’s well-known plays: Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Taming of the Shrew, and King Lear. By reevaluating these women in new ways, modern audiences can gain a better understanding of characters that are often written off as weak or flat by current standards. Finally, I want to help directors and actresses find ways to interpret and perform these women for the rich and fully human characters that they are.