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Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle$
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Sophie Duncan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790846

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790846.001.0001

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‘The Eternal Suffragette’

‘The Eternal Suffragette’

New Women and a New Century

(p.168) 5 ‘The Eternal Suffragette’
Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle

Sophie Duncan

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines performances of Shakespeare’s ‘difficult’ or rebarbative heroines through the fin de siècle and beyond, reorienting mainstream critical histories of All’s Well That Ends Well and examining commodity culture and fin-de-siècle sexuality in 1890s performances of Antony and Cleopatra by actresses including Lillie Langtry. The chapter also highlights performances of Shakespeare’s heroines associated with the theatrical and political networks of the suffrage movement. Shakespeare’s co-option as a suffrage playwright is evident from Harley Granville-Barker’s Savoy productions, starring Lillah McCarthy and Esmé Beringer, and criticism by suffrage newspapers. Paulina in The Winter’s Tale became an ideal model of solidarity and support for abused women. Individual fin-de-siècle actresses, as well as influencing their colleagues, inspired other public women as emerging writers and activists.

Keywords:   Cleopatra, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Winter’s Tale, suffragette, Paulina, commodity culture, Lillah McCarthy, sexuality, Lillie Langtry

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