Shakespeare, Children, Adolescents, Sonnets, Plays


An dive into how children are used in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. While there has been some extensive research on numerous of Shakespeare’s minor characters, some of his other characters, the minors, have been focused on less. Because they fly under the radar, Shakespeare uses these “minor” characters in order to subtly manipulate his audience, using them as a source of pathos in much the same way adults use children to manipulate audiences while silencing the actual opinions of the children they claim to represent. However, though he may often use children for this effect due to their fragility, Shakespeare also presents evidence why it is important to listen to children’s voices, lending support to using Shakespeare as a way to empower young voices so they can be heard. By using his child characters as sources of pathos and plot devices to enhance adult narratives, he presents some evidence that if children are not heard, they will be seen—and not in a good way. This speaks to the importance of empowering children with Shakespeare—though not every character within their immediate age group will be an ideal role model, there are plenty of Shakespeare’s characters that demonstrate the leadership that today’s youth are seeking after. With this, adults may still try to use children’s innocence, dependence, and fragility as manipulative tactics to gain power in their arguments, but children will be ready to defend themselves—both despite and because of how Shakespeare has portrayed them.

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Class Project or Paper

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English 382