Someone summed up why girls probably shouldn't model themselves on Shakespeare characters

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Sunday 09 October 2016 08:00
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Actress Elizabeth Taylor filming the 1963 film 'Cleopatra' directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz(Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

It's become somewhat passé to ask why young girls are inspired by - and want to be - a Kardashian, but last week a head teacher decided to express her concerns.

Launching a project to encourage pupils to imagine Shakespeare's heroines in contemporary surroundings, Jane Lunnon of Wimbledon High School told the BBC that characters like Cleopatra show that you can be "both flawed and brilliant".

“As an English teacher I'm very used to using Shakespeare as a great source for intellectual stimulation and exploration - but really probing and using Shakespeare as a pastoral educational tool I thought was really interesting and, in particular, Shakespeare's characters as role models.”

In particular, she mentioned:

Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, who rails against the unequal status of women

Rosalind in As You Like It, admired for her intelligence and quick wit as well as her beauty

Viola in Twelfth Night who survives a shipwreck and disguises herself as a man to find work.

"Look at Rosalind, look at Beatrice, look at Viola, the capacity in challenge and dilemma and pain, to love, to be vivacious, to be resourceful, to be resilient - they embody it so vividly, and that is a really powerful message," Ms Lunnon said. "It's not that terrible things happen to them, it's how they respond."

Despite this, a few people have pointed out that there are some flaws in asking girls to try and identify with Shakespeare's characters.

Yeah, so... maybe not the best role models after all.

Of course, many will argue that Ms Lunnon is making a very legitimate point in identifying positive qualities in several of Shakespeare's female heroines. But it might be worth finding some more modern characters to add that list. And some that are less incestuous.

Can you think of any that might fit the bill?

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