In 500 words or more, suggest a new title for Lysistrata that best reflects its theme, then make an argument for your title based on what you take to be the play’s major idea(s). How does the...

In 500 words or more, suggest a new title for Lysistrata that best reflects its theme, then make an argument for your title based on what you take to be the play’s major idea(s). How does the theme relate to contemporary issues and life? What is your personal response to the theme?

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litgeek2015 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting prompt and while you need to write 500 words for this, my response is a bit shorter, but should provide you with a good start.

In the 1960s in America there was a popular anti-war saying that might make a strong alternative title for Lysistrata: Make Love, Not War.

One of the most significant themes of the play is sex. The women in Lysistrata use sex as a means of controlling the men in their lives. The women withhold sex from them so long as the men are at war. The title character, Lysistrata, uses this late in the play as a means of trying to negotiate peace. When that doesn't work, she gets the men drunk and it is then that they are seduced into calling a truce. If we think about the new title, Make Love, Not War, one could see how the women are enticing the men to do just that. The message they are sending to the men is that if they stop the war, they will again be allowed to make love.

So how does this theme or main idea connect to our world today? The argument could be made that sex can and is still used by women as a bargaining chip, whether it be to convince men not to go to war or simply to do something else the woman wants or needs. One other theme of the play is that men viewed women of the time as powerless, yet the one thing that men did value women for (sex) was so powerful that without it, the men were powerless. That carnal need has not changed. Men still desire sex and women can still withhold it from them in order to get their way.

In terms of your personal response to the theme or main idea, you should probably think about the motivations of Lysistrata and the other women in the play. Why is it they are withholding sex? Is their cause noble? Is it justified? Keep in mind that the women in this play are the ones left behind during this war. They are raising the children, they are abandoned for the most part by their husbands and fathers, and the young women have no young men left to even marry because they are off at war dying. As a result of their extreme solution to ending the war, critics have often described the women in this play as strong and brave. You might think about whether or not you agree with this. Consider how the men in the story are portrayed as you craft your own response to the theme. If you must connect your response to the world today, the reasons why the women in the play withhold sex will probably be very different than real-world examples you may find in 2016, so your opinion might be based on the theme of the play, where you see these connections in the real world, or both. Ultimately, you will need to consider the motivations of the women in the play (and they were responding to extreme circumstances) as you think about how women might use this same tactic today.

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Lysistrata

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