Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




The nineteenth century critics appraised Shakespeare's heroines by standards different from those of the twentieth; consequently the two ages reached different conclusions. The purpose of this paper is to point out just what these differences are.

A paper of this scope had to be narrowed in some ways. Otherwise a formidable array of heroines would have been enumerated, but little depth of research could have been shown. In the general conclusion the result would have been the same, as I have discovered through wide reading. To limit the subject only the most famous heroines could be included. The process of assembling a bibliography on the field of criticism of Shakespeare's heroines showed that some heroines bad been fully discussed, while others had been given little in the way of criticism. A great mass of material on a certain heroine, for example, would show that, since she was considered important by many writers of a certain period, she should be given consideration in this discussion. In this way the number of heroines discussed in this paper was limited to seven: Portia (in Merchant of Venice), Rosalind, Juliet, Ophelia, Desdemona, Cleopatra, and Lady Macbeth.