Dr. Melanie Lo re-taught me Shakespeare and I remembered why I adored him as a playwright all over again. She didn't just teach him as an historical relic, she taught him as living and breathing and present. When I left her class I realized why everyone in high school hated this writer, and it is because he isn't taught appropriately.
Many educators teach him the same way they teach novels, which is inherently wrong. His work was never meant to be read. It was meant to be watched. Finally, as an adult, I realized why this author resonated so much with me, it was because he bridged the gap between my two first loves; literature and theatre. Shakespeare is no Webster or Jonson, he writes his characters off the page. My senior honors thesis argues that Shakespeare invented the universal female character.
It is a bold concept and I had many professors ask me to re-word my argument since universal is hard to prove. I was, and still am. convinced that Shakespeare did not write constrained characters; he wrote his female characters differently from his male characters. He gave them life, thought, and choice.
This was the biggest project I had ever decided to bite off, and more than once I thought I had no argument to argue. I couldn't give up, I couldn't let Shakespeare's women go on unnoticed, agency-less. It was, and remains to be, very close to my heart. I had to speak up and tell someone. So, I did the one thing I could think of: I wrote.
This process, too, was a little unorthodox but paid off in the end. Fortunately, since I had my argument solidified in my head, I started writing early. I cannot stress this enough, to anyone who may read this and contemplates a thesis, start early! It gives you so much more time to edit and revise and you don't feel the pressure to hurry to the finish line. Since I work in a theatre, it was easy to remind myself why I was writing my paper, why it was important not to dismiss Ophelia or Katherina or Lady Anne, and why it was important to read them as more than extensions of men and sexual foils.
I was tired of narratives and nay-sayers who claimed that there was nothing important in Shakespeare anymore because his work was dated. It was time to remind people that Shakespeare surrounds us and there is a reason.
My inspiration arose from reading my favorite of his plays, Taming of the Shrew and watching my favorite movie 10 Things I Hate About You. The adaptation is brilliant, so I decided to look into other adaptations and found my new favorite musical Six, an adaptation of Henry VIII. I began writing and researching. In order to stay focused and present, I would take enormous breaks in between chapters or sections because I didn't want to lose perspective. I had to constantly remind myself of what I was arguing and why it mattered. When I finished, it was the most terrifying yet gratifying piece I have ever written. 
The paper to the left is only an excerpt of the whole work.
Back to Top