Chiron: She is woman, so she must be wooed. She is woman, so she must be won.
– Titus Andronicus
Okay, so I’ve been tossing around on this idea of the poor helpless Shakespearean female, and I think it is better to see it as Shakespeare does. Yes, his love ends a woman as a bride, but for him love is pure, and redeeming, and forgiving. It is Miranda’s love for Ferdinand that ends Prospero’s injust exile, it is Romeo and Juliet’s love that, eventually, through tragic exhaust, ends the quarrel of their parents, it is Cordelia’s true and noble love for her father that leads to all the tragedies of Lear yet it IS that love that is most noble – as is the purity of Othello’s Desdemona, it is the only shining light in a cornucopia of horrors. So: false love, bound love, forced love, unequal love, bought love, cuckolded love, jealous love – these are the things of beasts, brutes and tyrants, and produce nothing good.
So no, let’s begin then with daughters, bound by fathers, cast around by brutes and tyrants, but let them seek love, and with it peace, and truth and betterment, a freedom from the vagaries of the gods and the foolish pride of families and steadfast Romans. Love, simple love – it conquers all because it is above all. So for a world of joy, then call forth for Queen Hymen now – let all be married here!
So I’m thinking thus: there shall be within a tale of daughters, daughters who, though owing much to their noble fathers come to the forest, or wilds, and are, if they arst lucky and skillful, not drowned, nor eaten by bears, nor their heads bashed in, nor raped, nor marred, nor driven to madness, nor do they their father’s plots and poisons keep within their breast or upon their fate, but through the forest rather find the clearer path, to love, and twixt it, liberty, peace, happiness, a brighter day. They may not find it, but in seeking, they shall be made great and all shall be remembered of their passage.
So, there shall be only daughters. No menfolk in this play. Look to it – no cocks in the henhouse, not a one.
Now then, my fancy falls upon the stars. There is, in the shade of Saturn and Jupiter, a planet so Forbidden yet so well known, for it is but the passing shade of our earth and tales within it. There, though there be nothing but the ether and the stars themselves, there too may you find your Prospero, and your Miranda, and your Caliban. The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves; the story of the star-crossed lovers can adorn the heavens, just as did the tales of Miranda and Caliban. Yes, and there shall be the space of Arden, dark and treacherous, but made well by the Gods for hiding, and for deeds most hidden. And safe within the Arden Space, the Daughters of Exile sail ships of gold and silver, and leave their doting fathers far behind, to wring their hands and beat their chests that ever the Gods did give them such a curse as a willful daughter.
But e’en in their rebellion, perhaps, a peace they may find, for their betrayal and for their father’s pain in twin, and build anew that same brave new world of Prospero’s dreams, whence they have found their love and fortune, where’er it lies in that dense wild space. Yes. To the forest then – with chariots of fire!