Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shakespeare's Stereotypes

Shakespeare, though a master of wordplay and imagery, also incorporates many references to politics and social issues in his plays. In "Othello," the main character is of african descent, and in "The Taming of the Shrew," the protagonist is an ill-tempered woman...these qualities make for an interesting story. "Much Ado About Nothing" does not feature anything controversial or innovative. The characters are believable and relatable, however, stereotypes are present, and they are present in most of the leads.

The primary focus in this comedy is of the lives of the royalty and army, which after a long battle have changed relationships/perspectives and have returned to new opportunities. Immediately we see tension between Benedick and Beatrice, whom may or may not have had a relationship in the past and the argumentative chemistry inside them both. Then Claudio comes into play with the typical and stale affectionate male who is madly in love along with his counterpart, Hero, who also fits under the category of "damsel in distress." Of course, the villain, Don Pedro unleashes his wrath, and introduces conflict which dampens the situation and destroys Claudio's romance. Each one of these characters play the "norm" in the traditional sense of theater, but their interactions are what makes the story unique. In addition, I think that Shakespeare is also expressing that the stereotype of royalty being pretentious and solely capable of making legislative decisions, is inaccurate. Rather, they possess the same relationships and struggle as the middle class does, but come across as more significant.

Another brief example of stereotyping is in the characters of the watchmen. Dogberry, the leader, is clearly uneducated by his malapropism and missuse of words. He and the others are obviously less wealthy because of their dress and the sweat and grime of their faces. They provide comic relief simply due to their stupidity and lack of class, which gives a well deserved break from the main plot.

1 comment:

Teddy H. said...

Nice post, Chris! Your focus on the class and gender stereoytpes were obviously thought out, and really showed through your writing! One comment on the gender stereotypes, though: would you consider Beatrice a stereotype? In my opinion, I think she is an exception, especially for that time period, seeing as she is a strong, witty, self sufficient woman. This contrasts heavily with her cousin Hero who, as you mentioned, is a damsel in distress. But yea, good job...oh, and break a leg in "Midsummer's"! I'm coming on Saturday, I think...