Given that he wrote in an era of entrenched patriarchy, do Shakespeare’s plays reveal any pro-feminist sentiments? If so, did his representations of strong female characters change as his writing matured? And is there a relationship between Shakespeare’s choice of genre and the ways he gives power to his women? Although we will discuss Shakespeare’s willful female characters from a range of his works, our chief explorations will focus on four plays (two comedies, a romance, and a tragedy): Love’s Labour’s Lost (1597), Much Ado about Nothing (1599), Macbeth (1606), and The Winter’s Tale (1611).
The Folger Library editions by Simon and Schuster are recommended.