Yooperprof's Reviews > Shakespeare's Wife

Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer
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's review
Jan 20, 09

bookshelves: biography, britain
Read in January, 2009

"Shakespeare's Wife" by Australian feminist Germaine Greer is a valuable addition to the groaning corpus of Shakespearian. It's assertive, well-researched, and bracing. Greer argues that Ann Hathaway Shakespeare badly needs to be rescued from the neglect and condescension of the Shakespearians, who have refused to give her her due. They've subscribed too easily to the myth that Mrs. Shakespeare was a kind of harpy whom Will was only too glad to escape by making a career for himself on and through the London stage. Ann is generally portrayed as a cypher - a nothing - or worse, as a Shrew who badly needed to be Tamed. Greer alters that perception by painting her as competent, devoted, and assured. I recommend the book to those seeking a better understanding of Shakespeare and his time.

"Ann Shakespeare cannot sensibly be written out of her husband's life if only because he himself was so aware of marriage as a challenging way of life, a 'world-without-end bargain.' The Shakespeare wallahs have succeeded in creating a Bard in their own likeness, that is to say, incapable of relating to women, and have then vilified the one woman who remained true to him all his life, in order to exonerate him. There can be no doubt that Shakespeare neglected his wife, embarrassed her and even humiliated her, but attempting to justify his behavior by vilifying her is puerile. The defenders of Ann Hathaway are usually derided as sentimental when they are simply trying to be fair. It is a more insiduous variety of sentimentality that wants to believe that women who are ill-treated must have brought it upon themselves."


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