Does Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare have a degree of feminism?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare cannot be legitimately described as having any degree of feminism as feminism was a social and philosophical movement invented several centuries after Shakespeare died. While feminists critics can discuss Shakespeare's plays from a point of view of feminist theory, any such discussion is by its nature anachronistic.

 What we can say is that in Measure for Measure Shakespeare explores gender roles in relatioship to Christian theories of morality, and in particular how women's sexuality can be viewed as re-enacting the temptation of Adam by Eve, but portraying the cause of temptation not as the attractiveness of woman's sinfulness but of her virtue:


 Most dangerous
Is that temptation that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue; never could the strumpet ...
Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid
Subdues me quite. (2.2.178)

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Measure for Measure

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