Feminism and Shakespeare's Tragedies Collide


Quote #1

“I’ve slaved for years to get my doctorate, but in a field like mine that’s so well trod, you run the risk of contradicting men who’ve risen to the rank of scared cow, and dying on the horns of those who rule the pasture with an iron cud. Not that I’m some kind of feminist. I shave my legs and I get nervous in a crowd — it’s just that … I was labelled as a crackpot, by the sacred herd if Academe; and after years spent as a laughingstock, I finally came to think that it was true. But, Desdemona, now that I’ve met you, I want to stand out in that field and cry, “Bullshit!”” (37).

Feminism in the book starts off by Constance being able to work as an assistant professor. The fact that she is able to work displays the improvement in women’s rights in modern society. Although she is able to work as an assistant professor, Constance is still overpowered and taken advantage of by Professor Claude Night. He abuses Constance’s loyal and gullible personality by making her do all his work. After meeting Desdemona she realizes that the importance of standing up to Claude and no longer degrading herself.

Quote #2

“For safety did I first secrete my sex. I mean! — I’ll have to trust you with the truth. My name is Constance. I’m a woman." (77)

Gender identity takes a big part in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). Constance is seen crossing gender roles for her safety. This eventually adds a plot twist to the story as the switch of genders results in exposure of hidden love. As Romeo and Juliet both end up falling for Constance as she struggles to escape the trap of love. The fact that Constance feels she needed to change her gender to feel safe displays that she felt unsafe as a woman. Acting as a man gave her more protection than she would've gotten if she was a woman, which indicates the inequality present between gender roles.

Quote #3

"Love. Love! I love that shit, Claude Night! Amour - at-first-sight, in plain view, a coup de foudre, la vie en soir, amo, amas, amat!!!" (71)

Constance fights the stereotype that men should be the one expressing their love and feelings for the women. Juliet helps constance realize that she doesn’t need to hide her feelings just because they aren’t mutual or directed from Professor Claude Night. Constance realizes she is allowed to have and express her own feelings, and by stating that she loved Claude Night, Constance is able to understand how she feels and in a way move on from her heartbreak.


Desdemona, Juliet, and Constance Meet Third-Feminism

In this essay written by Shelly Scott, she conveys the meaning of feminism and its stages: particularly the second-wave and the third-wave. She states how Ann-Marie Macdonald broke boundaries in William Shakespeare's work by including third-wave feminism aspects such as the empowerment of women, gender bending, and sexual fluidity in her play. The social construct in both Romeo and Juliet and Othello dictated that women were not strong, and that they are easily manipulated. But in Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet), Constance defies such expectation. From being an introverted pushover, Constance is able to gain confidence in herself. She is able to prove that women do not have to be weak in the world of Shakespeare. Macdonald's use of gender bending and sexual fluidity broke the boundary of heteronormativity in Shakespeare's work. Romeo's wardrobe change and attraction to 'Constantine' agrees with the beliefs of third-wave feminism, by defying the universal assumption that a man should only like a woman. Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet) is a refreshing work of art with a twist of feministic beliefs that succeeds in both being comedic and educational.

Text to Text Connection

The aspect that shows correlation between the plays Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) and Eve: A Balancing Act is that they both have a particular feature within the play. The feature that tie these two plays together is the idea of traits between two individuals. intertwine as one whole. In Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), the characteristics within Desdemona and Juliet both rise above as they reflect Constance's renewed being. Similar occasion occurs in Eve: A Balancing Act when two individuals essentially realize their differences (using light and dark to compare themselves) which then leads to them to embrace each other as a whole.


  • MacDonald, Ann-Marie. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). , 1998. Print.