Men vs. Women: Examining the Relationship Between Genre and Gender in Shakespeare

byKristen Kurzawski

This unit is designed for a twelfth grade English class in an inner city high school, but can be easily adapted for anyone teaching a Shakespeare comedy or tragedy at the high school level. The unit centers on two plays by William Shakespeare, first the tragedy, Macbeth, and then a comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. The use of two Shakespeare plays from different genres is to add a depth of learning which I crave for my students. It will allow my students to study the conventions of two Shakespearean genres, and examine the effect of those conventions on the characters. Specifically we will look at how the genre influences the gender roles in the play. While learning the conventions of Shakespearean tragedy and comedy, the students will examine how those conventions force characters of a specific gender to behave in certain ways. It is my belief that in most cases the way men and women think and behave in Shakespearean comedy and tragedy is decided by the conventions of the genre.

(Developed for English IV, grade 12; recommended for English IV, grade 12)

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