Part Three

Living Underground or Dying to Tell the Truth

Part Three wrestles with the middle period of Shakespeare’s writing life. Through the women in these plays, Shakespeare gives us a clearer picture of the constraints put upon them. Increasingly, Shakespeare’s female characters articulate the truth about what they are seeing and feeling. If these women stay dressed as women, they go mad or die (either by murder or suicide). If, however, they disguise themselves as men, they’re able to find their voices, organize those around them, and enact a play that ends happily.
We begin with Isabella in Measure for Measure, go to Twelfth Night, look at Hamlet, and finally switch backwards and forwards between As You Like It and Othello.