April 22nd, 2016

shakespeare

30 days of Shakespeare: Day 4 - your favourite heroine

This is a close run for me between Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Helena in All's Well That Ends Well. The latter is less well known - basically the modestly born but intelligent Helena - a qualified doctor, no less - fulfills the conditions set by her reluctant husband, by tricking him into having sex with her while under the impression that she is someone else. However it's a gifted director who can leave the audience feeling that Helena has actually made the right life choice here.

So I think you have to give the prize to Portia in The Merchant of Venice, who gets much better lines than Helena. (Also she's a lawyer rather than a doctor. I dated a lawyer once, but that's another story.) She's one of the most active of Shakespeare's heroines, certainly the one who comes off best out of her intervention in the male-dominated sphere. One wonders which Elizabethan women lawyers Shakespeare knew?

Here's Lynn Collins, saving Jeremy Irons from Al Pacino in 2004:



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