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Can a Female Shakespearean Character be a Wooer?Though "wooing" seems associated mainly...

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mwhoopee | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 1, 2009 at 10:12 AM via web

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Can a Female Shakespearean Character be a Wooer?

Though "wooing" seems associated mainly with male subjects and female objects, could a woman be a wooer?

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 3, 2009 at 2:23 PM (Answer #2)

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Good question. It's actually a reasonably ambivalent verb, and one that can be ascribed either to a male or female wooer. More usually in Shakespeare you'll find it given to a male but that's simply because it's socially more usual for the man to be the one doing the wooing. "Woo" just means "to persuade someone to something", and so doesn't always have to be romantic. But here are some Shakespeare female wooers, anyway:

He'll go along o'er the wide world with me;
As You Like It, 1.3)

And when a woman woos, what woman's son
Sonnet 41)

Do not extort thy reasons from this clause,
Twelfth Night, 3.1)

Hope it helps!

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 4, 2009 at 3:03 AM (Answer #3)

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To woo. A strange word in our ears. What is the modern equivalent? 'Flirt?' or 'Seduce?' or 'Hit on?' or 'Make out'. (I don't know the latest teenage phrases!)

Probably 'woo' means sending flowers and flirty conversations, poems and songs, long looks and blushing cheeks. Romance. I don't think wooing means persuading your target into bed. I think you woo someone, then, if your wooing is successful, you try to seduce them into 'making whoopee' (as your name suggests!)

In Shakespeare's day, women characters were played by young boys (females were not allowed to act on stage becaue it was 'indecent'.) In our modern movies, beautiful women and men can flirt and it is very sexy and the audience enjoys it. On Shakespeare's stage, Romeo would actually be flirting with a boy in a dress and the audience would know this. So watching Romeo actually kiss Juliet in Elizabethean times would be, well, not most peoples' idea of sexy.

Do Women woo in Shakespeare? It takes two to tango. There are lots of flirty women in Shakespeare.

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 3:10 PM (Answer #4)

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Woo is to seduce, to persuade, to invite, and to get them to like you.

Here's the OED:

1. To solicit or sue a woman in love; to court, make love.
2. To make solicitation or entreaty; to sue for; to ‘invite’, ‘call’. Also const. clause.
3. To sue to or solicit (a woman) in love, esp. with a view to marriage; to pay court to, court.
4. To move or invite by alluring means; to entreat or solicit alluringly. (Said properly of persons, fig. of things.)    a. const. obj. and inf.
5. To sue for or solicit the possession or achievement of; hence fig. to ‘court’, ‘invite’, ‘tempt’.

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rmrose | Honors

Posted February 7, 2009 at 6:26 AM (Answer #5)

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To woo. A strange word in our ears. What is the modern equivalent? 'Flirt?' or 'Seduce?' or 'Hit on?' or 'Make out'. (I don't know the latest teenage phrases!)

Probably 'woo' means sending flowers and flirty conversations, poems and songs, long looks and blushing cheeks. Romance. I don't think wooing means persuading your target into bed. I think you woo someone, then, if your wooing is successful, you try to seduce them into 'making whoopee' (as your name suggests!)

In Shakespeare's day, women characters were played by young boys (females were not allowed to act on stage becaue it was 'indecent'.) In our modern movies, beautiful women and men can flirt and it is very sexy and the audience enjoys it. On Shakespeare's stage, Romeo would actually be flirting with a boy in a dress and the audience would know this. So watching Romeo actually kiss Juliet in Elizabethean times would be, well, not most peoples' idea of sexy.

Do Women woo in Shakespeare? It takes two to tango. There are lots of flirty women in Shakespeare.

Actually, in Elizabethan times, cross-dressing, sexual ambivalence, and sexual reversal was considered very sexy. Why did Shakespeare so frequently make use of the convention of boys, playing women, who disguise themselves (to woo, hide from, spy on, etc.) as boys?

His audiences found that sexy, and he fills those scenes with sexual puns and innuendo, too, capitalizing on this.

You are correct, however in your assertion that women in Shakespeare flirt (or woo). In fact, most of the time, Shakespeare makes them better at it than the men. Consider Rosalind in As You Like It, for perhaps the most obvious example of both of my points. I am happy to provide more specific examples if anyone is interested.

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rmrose | Honors

Posted February 7, 2009 at 6:29 AM (Answer #6)

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Can a Female Shakespearean Character be a Wooer?

Though "wooing" seems associated mainly with male subjects and female objects, could a woman be a wooer?

Absolutely, women could be wooers! Shakespeare's women woo as much as the men do, and in fact, most times, do it better! If you need specific examples let me know, and, I can provide some.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 23, 2010 at 4:36 PM (Answer #7)

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Of course women can be the wooers.  Think of Katherine (Kate) in The Taming of the Shrew.  She is being clumsily and deliberately wooed (tamed?) by a persistent and not always kind Petruchio; once she figures out the lay of the land, so to speak, she turns the tales on him.  Her very last speech in the play is nothing short of a serenade under his window, figuratively speaking.  Wooing generally has the implication of being a pursuer, and Shakespeare loves to have his women (at least in the comedies) pursue.

Lori Steinbach

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 15, 2011 at 3:57 PM (Answer #8)

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Yes, some of Shakespeare's female characters are wooers.  They have thier own power, even though they are women and women did not have much control in that society.  In some cases, wooing was the only power a woman or girl had.

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