“The Taming of the Shrew”

Although Shakespeare often shows women with power, it’s typically in a very unflattering and misogynistic light. For example, in the Tragedy of King Lear, Goneril and Regan get their power from deception and ambition. The exact opposite values that men of power are supposed to show. Cordelia, the only honorable woman, ended up without a home and essentially forgotten about by her sisters and her father. 

Likewise, in the movie Ran by Akira Kurosawa, the women control the sons and get them to fight against their father. In one particular scene in the movie, Taro’s wife (Lady Kaede) is able to successfully convince him to take over the entire Ichimonji clan. Lady Kaede is the most prominent female character and while she has wonderful characteristics, like intelligence, her most powerful attributes seem to be the ones that allow her to fully run the kingdom down and create utter chaos. 

In both stories, the most powerful man, Hidetora and Lear, are treated sympathetically despite their actions and madness, while the women, with the exception of Cordelia, have few redeeming qualities. Also, both stories show the downfall of the kingdom when the women are given their first glance at power. In King Lear, it occurred when his daughter obtained their land, and in Ran, it happened when the sons got married and their wives started demanding things. 

Shakespeare often explores power and ambition in women in his works, such as: Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear, however, like “The Taming of the Shrew”, the depiction is often of a small, disagreeably, aggressive, sneaky character like a shrew.

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