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Poetical Women in Shakespeare: A Response to Alison Findlay
by David P. Gontar (July 2017)
Margaret of Anjou, Jane Telford, 2013.
Come, wait upon him, lead him to my bower.
The moon, methinks, looks with a wat’ry eye,
And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
Lamenting some enforcèd chastity.
Tie up my love’s tongue; bring him silently.
“Do you not know I am a woman? When I think,
I must speak.”
In a paper subtitled ‘The Poetry of Women in Shakespeare’s Dramatic Verse’,1 one might expect to find stanzas from his most lyrical ladies, among whom we would surely number Isabella, Titania, Tamora, Rosalind, the Weird Sisters, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Juliet, Paulina and Hermione. Instead, we are presented with subalterns Margaret of Anjou, Princess Catherine of France in King Henry V, the Jailer’s Daughter, Ophelia, Lady Macbeth and other roles not customarily associated with Mt. Parnassus. The explanation lies in writer Alison Findlay’s conception of the poetical as a species of the political, e.g., “women in Shakespeare negotiate a space to speak within a poetic discourse that repeatedly defines them as objects.” more>>>