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How you categorize Lysistrata as a play primarily concerned with gender issues, or one...
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Modern audiences would probably consider Lysistrata to be a play primarily concerned with gender issues, but such a judgment fails to take Aristophanes' historical context/society into account. Aristophanes lived in a society that viewed women to be inferior. Men were naturally wiser, more logical, more level-headed, and the gender best suited to governing a society. So, then, if Aristophanes portrays these women as getting the best of men, he is not writing a radical play-- his audience would have recognized this. He does not try to show that women are equal to men, or wiser, or better suited to making decisions. His females characters (save Lysistrata) ultimately reaffirm the gender assumptions/expectations of Aristophanes' society. They are silly, distracted, weak-willed, etc. The only exception is Lysistrata herself, who acts much more like a man. She has no on-stage husband, no children, no female responsibilities -- indeed, she seems to have male qualities (logic, reason, etc.). She becomes a mouthpiece for Aristophanes, and ultimately send his true message: that if even WOMEN can recognize that the war is unfruitful and should end, then surely logical men should as well. That is the underlying message he is sending to his audience, and they certainly would have gotten the message. The comedic delivery may create an impression that gender is the foremost issue here, but the play is ultimately political.
Posted by lnorton on July 15, 2010 at 5:01 AM (Answer #1)
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