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Home / Yearbook nr. XVIII/2017 / Ramona CHIRIBUȚĂ, Woman’s Reflection in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Ramona CHIRIBUȚĂ, Woman’s Reflection in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Lecturer, PhD., University of Craiova, Faculty of Letters, The Department of British, American and German Studies, Romania;

Published on October 31, 2017

Shakespeare’s paired portraits of a beautiful, unattainable young man and a dark, promiscuous woman can easily be read as expressions of the deepest misogyny. But it is worth remembering that the Petrarchan tradition he challenged was also consistent with misogyny. Petrarch himself had written misogynist satires on women, and the objectified, ideal lady of the Petrarchan sonnet tradition stood as an implicit rebuke to the human imperfection of women as they actually were. The Petrarchan lady modelled the features that constituted a beautiful woman – in life as well as in art. Petrarch’s figuration of Laura’ played a crucial role in the development of a code of beauty… that causes us to view the fetish zed body as a norm and encourages us to seek, or to seek to be, ideal types, beautiful monsters composed of every individual perfection.

misogyny, effeminate men, protofeminist, lust, fetishism


  1. Morris Bishop, Petrarch and His World, Indiana University Press, 1963.
  2. Elizabeth Cropper, On Beautiful Women, Parmigianino, Petrarchismo and the Vernacular Style, Art Bulletin, 58, 1976.
  3. Nancy J. Vickers, Writing and Sexual Difference, University of Chicago Press, 1982.
  4. A Casebook on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, edited by Gerald Willen and Victor B. Reed, 1996.
  5. Judith P. Zinsser, A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present, vol. I, 1999.
  6. Rosalie Osmond, Mutual Accusations: Seventeenth – Century Body and Soul dialogues in Their Literary and Theological Context, Toronto University Press, 1990.
  7. Gerrard Winstanley, The New law of Righteousness, edited by George H. Sabine, Cornell University Press, 1941.
  8. Margareta de Grazia, The Scandal of Shakespeare Sonnet’s, Shakespeare Survey, 1994.
  9. Anti-hermeneutics: The Case of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129, in “Poetic Traditions of the English Renaissance”, Yale University Press, 1982.
  10. Alan Sinfield, The Wilde Century: Effeminacy, Oscar Wilde and the Queer Moment, London, Cassel, 1994.
  11. Shakespeare’s Sonnets, edited by Stephen Booth, Yale University Press, 1977.
  12. A Window to Criticism: Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Modern Poetics, Princeton University Press, 1964.
  13. Philip C. Kolin, Venus and Adonis: Critical Essays, New York and London, 1997.

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