The women in Shakespeare’s plays are vivid creations, each differing from the others. It is important to remember that in Shakespeare’s time boy actors played the female parts. Actresses did not appear in a Shakespeare play until after the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660 and the introduction of French practices such as women actors.Read More about William Shakespeare It says much about the talent of the boy actors of his own day that Shakespeare could create such a rich array of fascinating women characters. Shakespeare was fond of portraying aggressive, witty heroines, such as Kate of The Taming of the Shrew, Rosaline of Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing. However, he was equally adept at creating gentle and innocent women, such as Ophelia in Hamlet, Desdemona in Othello, and Cordelia in King Lear. His female characters also include the treacherous Goneril and Regan in King Lear, the iron-willed Lady Macbeth, the witty and resourceful Portia in Merchant of Venice, the tender and loyal Juliet, and the alluring Cleopatra.
Shakespeare is no theorist propounding general laws of drama and his women also are not just wit and courage. Their courage also fails and even a lady Macbeth dared not murder a Duncan because the king very much looked like her father. The child-like affections are not dead in the bosom of even that imperious lady. That Shakespeare is not always creating types is most abundantly shown in the creation of his Cleopatra. Shakespeare even departs from his source, Plutarch, to endow his Cleopatra with a peculiar individuality, all her own-after all she is Shakespeare’s “unparalleled lass”.
Ref: Timeline of Shakespeare criticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia