There is no consensus regarding Shakespeare’s attitudes towards women. Some, like James Shapiro, deem him “the most noble feminist of them all” [sic] (270), whereas others like David Mann argue that he had a “scant concern” for the feelings of women (22). Whichever might be the case, it is often argued that Shakespeare’s rendering of women in his tragedies differs drastically from the way he has portrayed the heroines of his comedies. The reason for this double standard could be analyzed in the context of Shakespearean drama and the attitudes of the Renaissance society towards women. This paper intends to argue that the reason for this incongruity stems from the way that women were socially constructed in the era and as much culturally conditioned. To find out the underlying base of this construction, this study endeavors to examine the subjectivity of women in Shakespeare’s tragedies through the Lacanian- Althusserian dialectic of identity formation. What this paper seeks to accomplish is to demonstrate that the Lacanian-Althusserian dialectic provides a more comprehensive and lucrative explanation for the process of subject formation than just a psychoanalytical or structuralist Marxist approach. The Lacanian-Althusserian dialectic focuses on the close affinity between the Lacanian notion of linguistic alienation and the misperceived identity of the infantile period, and the Althusserian concept of ideological interpellation and the claim regarding individuals’ being “always already subjects” in society. After applying these notions to the women who populate his tragedies, this study aims at positing that these women are the pure embodiment of the ideological values of their epoch, ideologies that deprive of them of any autonomy and individuality.
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