Shakespeare's Women

Ref: C2226658

An exploration of some of the extraordinary and powerful female characters Shakespeare invented for boys and men to act: companions, lovers, mothers, daughters, viragos at war, victims of jealousy, agents of destruction and angels of redemption! We speculate about Shakespeare’s life, including political and religious factors as well as his marital and other relationships, in so far as light may be cast on the way he presents his female roles, and consider how the all-male world of the theatre companies affected their construction and presentation. We shall discuss some of the non-dramatic poetry to see if these too shed illumination, and proceed to study some roles fairly briefly, others in more depth, covering the most significant from the Comedies, Histories, Tragedies and Romances, discussing Shakespeare’s “empowerment” of his women. How much justification is there for the suggestion that Shakespeare’s women, at least, are the deadlier of the species?

Course aim

Shakespeare “invented the human as we continue to know it” (Professor Harold Bloom).This course aims to examine some of the female roles Shakespeare invented for boys and men to act.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Choose and approach any Shakespeare play on stage or screen and in print with greater confidence and enjoyment
  • Analyse Shakespeare’s skills and techniques in crafting female characters and presenting their emotions and relationships convincingly even though he was working with an all-male cast
  • Discuss the roles of these female characters in the development of plot and ideas in the various plays
  • Evaluate the proposition that more often than not the women hold the balance of power in the plays, despite being greatly outnumbered by the men
  • Compare the rôles of the women in the genres of Comedy, History, Tragedy and Romance.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member

Download full course information sheet

Shakespeare's Women

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This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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