• “Fright the ladies out of their wits”: Gendered passion and the English stage

    Author(s):
    Yan Brailowsky (see profile)
    Date:
    2023
    Subject(s):
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616, Sex role, Spectators, Theater audiences
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    spectatorship, gender, women, Shakespeare William, Midsummer Night’s Dream (A), Hamlet, King Lear
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/h55r-7864
    Abstract:
    This essay discusses female spectatorship from within Shakespeare’s plays as performed in his lifetime. Several plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet or King Lear address the issue of female spectatorship, providing comedic and tragic illustrations of how women reacted to theatrical performances, and how playwrights seemed to address the needs of female spectators. Interpretation of female spectatorship is rendered difficult by the scant evidence pertaining to actual women spectators at the time, pointing to the problem of interpreting how such spectatorship and gendered emotions could be performed and received by Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences. The essay shows that gendered constructs of spectatorship rarely followed accepted norms, and that men were as likely as women to be frightened “out of their wits”. The plays are as fictional as the gendered differences between female and male spectators.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    4 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

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