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besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In reality, we can't really call William Shakespeare a true feminist because the concept of feminism didn't exist during his time. He did however, understand the plight of women and their general overall expected servitude towards men. A lot of his writing suggested the idea that women were the weaker of the two sexes while some of his other works suggested that women were independent, often coniving, and willing to extreme lengths to get what they wanted. He wrote roles of women being both strong and weak. 

During William Shakespeare's time it was common for a woman's father to choose who she would marry. If a woman wanted to choose her mate she was often considered rebellious. We often see this "rebellion" in his writing. For example, In Romeo and Juliet it was obvious that he supported the idea that women should be allowed to choose their own mates. Juliet went as far as to kill herself over the true love she felt for Romeo. In The Taming of the Shrew we see a different side of Shakespeare's portrayal of women. Katharina was portrayed as somewhat of a child and in need of man to control her. 

In conclusion, William Shakespeare wanted us to see his characters for who they were, whether it be male or female. He wanted us to see that each individual has his or her own unique characteristics and motives for doing what they do and living life as they do. In this way I suppose we could see Shakespeare as purely being a humanist. 

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