An Ethical Literary Analysis of The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines

  • Ji Rangping Foreign Language School of Northeast Normal University, 5268 Renmin Street, Changchun City, Jilin Province 13004, P.R.CHINA
Keywords: Ethical Literary Criticism, The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines, Mary Cowden Clarke, animal factor, sex ethics, double standards


The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines, a classic Shakespeare drama adaptation by Mary Cowden Clarke, tells the girlhood stories of Shakespeare’s heroines in a series of fifteen tales. Analysing the tales from the perspective of ethica l literary criticism and the theory of the Sphinx factor (an original c ritical theory formulated by the Chinese scholar Nie Zhenzhao), this paper explores such ethical and social problems as the double standards of sex ethics and the inequalities between man and woman by means of the Animal factor analysis and argues that by disclosing these problems in a deliberately abhorrent way, the tales fulfil the task of ethically educating Victorian readers, and female readers in particular, in an enlightening and entertaining way while leading Victorian women to the appreciation of Shakespeare’s plays.


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