The Art of Loving: Female Subjectivity and Male Discursive Traditions in Shakespeare's Tragedies
University of Delaware Press, 1992 - 153 стор.
To be a subject is to be able to speak, to give meaning. The Art of Loving interrogates the phenomenon of "theatrical subjectivity"--female protagonists as both subjects and objects on the early modern English stage and within the illusion of Shakespeare's tragedies. The disparity between females as acting, speaking subjects onstage and male protagonists' objectifications of them constitutes the dominating gendered irony of the dramatic texts.
In Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra, Professor Gajowski argues, women are not portrayed as they are valued by men. Endowed with a self-estimation that is independent of masculine estimations of them, Juliet, Desdemona, and Cleopatra subvert Petrarchan, Ovidian, and Orientalist discursive traditions by which males construct females as gendered, colonized others. The independence of their self-evaluation from conflicting male desire and repugnance for them accounts for their "infinite variety." The uniqueness of Shakespeare's representation of heterosexual relations is his creation of female protagonists who are relational, yet independent, human beings.
The empowered female protagonists of Shakespeare's comedies are rightly celebrated by "compensatory" feminist critics; the disempowered--even victimized--female protagonists of his tragedies are rightly noted by "justificatory" feminist critics. To view the marriages of the comic females as nothing more than submissions to patriarchy, Professor Gajowski contends, is to ignore the crucial significance in Shakespeare's texts of affiliative capacities of both sexes of the human animal. Accordingly, to view the deaths of the tragic females as victimizations by patriarchy--and no more than that--is to ignore the commentary that Shakespeare's texts make upon masculine impulses of possession, politics, and power.
While feminist critics recognize the significance of dramatic representations of sexuality and affective relations, recent materialist/historicist studies consider representations of sexuality and affective relations significant only insofar as they are relevant to the manipulations of Elizabethan and Jacobean political power and mechanisms of economic exchange. The privileging of politics and power on the part of these critics constitutes a perpetuation and reinforcement of patriarchal values. It has the effect of putting woman in her customary place: marginalized, erased, subservient to the newly dominant male discursive traditions. It is antithetical, moreover, to a genuinely feminist discourse because it deprivileges relationships, denying the power that they play in cultures and in texts. It is the difference between proclaiming, Creon-like, that families are subservient to the state and comprehending the far more complex psychosocial truth that the state is constituted of families. To assume that structures of political and economic power have greater value than sexual and affective experience is to ignore the interpenetrating nature of public and private experience that Shakespeare's texts depict.
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Romeo and Juliet Female Subjectivity and the Petrarchan Discursive Tradition
Othello Female Subjectivity and the Ovidian Discursive Tradition
Antony and Cleopatra Female Subjectivity and Orientalism
Human Affiliation and the Wedge of Gender
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