“Shakespeare’s Sister”

Thenovel”Shakespeare’s Sister” by Virginia Woolf gives acomprehensiveanalysis of a woman’spositionin the society in the 16th century. Womenwere confinedto anonymity and with no right to a formal education. Consequently, any talent or skill possessed by a womanwas never appreciated, let alonebeing allowedtodevelop. In a nut shell, womenwere destinedto live under the intimidatingshadowof men. Presumably, men were the only ones who could engage in acting, writing and developing their gifts.Any woman who had the rare courage to utilize their talents had to contend with hiding behind a male name if it was to gain acceptance in the public.As such, a woman with a passion for writing and poetry was always in collision course both with herself and themalegender.

This presented arecipeforstrifeandunhappinessfor any ambitious woman seeking todevelopher gift of poetry. For such awoman, lifewas reducedto a battle field wheresuperiorityand relevance battleswere foughtbetween them and the masculine gender. In essence, agiftedwomanwas always under pressure to pursue hergiftand at the same timecautiousnot to go against the norm. Yes, it will feelrighttofollowtheheartandrespectits whims. Unfortunately, the sameheartisnaturallysensitiveto what people say about it. The remotest negativecomplimentcauses a more than proportionate emotional damage and kills the spirit. It elicits strong feelings of rejection andmockeryfrom theverypeople that shouldappreciateher efforts toentertainthem.

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These forces utterly deprive agiftedwomanof joy andsatisfactionshe ought to be getting from her work. Virginia Woolf quotes “…ahighlygiftedgirl who had tried to useher giftofpoetry wouldhave been sothwartedand hindered by other people, so torturedand pulled asunder by her owncontraryinstincts,that she must have lost herhealthandsanity to a certainty”. This gives ahintof the characteristics ofstrifethat faces agiftedwoman in the 16th century.The implication of this strife to agiftedwoman is alifepunctuated by struggles tocutanicheand earn respect from other people, especially men.Thisinnerstrifecannot be hidden as it becomesevidentthrough the actions and living conditions of a gifted life.For instance, living a free andnormallife in London wasstressfulenough to kill agiftedwoman in the 16th century. This is because of constant rejection of the woman’s role in writing and acting leading to personal dissatisfaction and stress. (Virginia).


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