||The main concern of this thesis is the interaction between the patriarchal scheme and the behaviors of female characters in these two plays of Shakespeare, Measure for Measure and Titus Andronicus. Instead of taking female silence as a mechanism that sustains the imbalance of power between male and female characters and as the symptom of their deficiency under the patriarchal scheme, I look at female characters from their behaviors in the plays, not merely from their lines. By means of Linda Woodbridge’s idea about the decategorized women and Peter Stallybrass’s division of women into two groups, the classical body and the grotesque body, I will illustrate the liminal statuses of Isabella and Lavinia and their crucial roles in the patriarchal scheme.
Chapter one reviews the accounts of Woodbridge and Stallybrass. Based on Mary Douglas’s observation concerning unclassifiable elements, Woodbridge maintains that the women living in the interstices are dangerous but powerful. For Stallybrass, he adapts M. M. Bakhtin’s idea of the classical body and the grotesque one and suggests that women are divided into these two categories by the three signs, the enclosed body, the closed mouth and the locked house. In addition, he also comments on the way woman is produced as man’s property.
Chapter two argues that Isabella bears these characteristics of these two bodies. Instead of being subject to male supremacy, she blurs the boundaries that separate different places and remains the only maid possessed by no men at the end of the play. Chapter three demonstrates the transformation of Lavinia from Titus’ virtuous daughter to a raped widow and how the two statuses of Titus, both in the family and in the state, are affected by her. I argue that compared to her father whose power is on the wane, she plays a crucial role in the revenge plot.
Chapter four is the concluding chapter that discusses the tense relation between female sexual transgression and the patriarchal order. Although men may use marriage to reclassify the unmarried non-virgins and use death to purify the stain of the raped wife, they face the more ambivalent situation when they deal with the transgression of their own mothers.