Essay, Research Paper: Mozart And Women


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In Mozart's time (the late 1700s), women were viewed much differently than they
are viewed today. Women were perceived as being inferior (intellectually and
physically) to men. As we all know, the women were supposed to spend their time
in the house cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children. Although, we
must take into account that this was mostly the biased perspective of the men of
the time. As time progressed, the submissive female role changed. Their presence
became much more prevalent as time went on. Mozart's apparent personal
perspective of women, which was demonstrated in his many operas, did not seem to
correlate with the universal perspective of woman at the time. His perspective
of women portrayed in The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni is much more like
today's perspective than the perspective of his time. In The Marriage of Figaro,
the women are portrayed as intelligent, cunning, wise, and faithful. In The
Marriage of Figaro, the women are presented with the problem of dealing with
their jealous and lustful husbands. Ironically, it is the "lower
class" woman, Susanna, who provides the needed leadership and wisdom when
it comes to solving the problem. She is the one that comes up with the idea to
change clothes with the Countess to test the fidelity and loyalty of the Count.
It might have been expected for a man to come up with a plan so clever, or at
least for the upper class and supposedly more intelligent Countess to come up
with the idea, but low and behold, the "lowly" servant comes through
with the great idea. In comparison with the males in the opera, the women are
portrayed with much more fidelity and loyalty especially towards their spouses.
The men are portrayed as foolish, lustful, and jealous when it comes to love.
The Count is the worst - he displays lustfulness, jealousy and above all,
hypocrisy. He lusts after Susanna and expects her to break her promise of
fidelity to her fiancé Figaro. He also gets jealous when Cherubino tries to
court the Countess. By doing this, he creates a double standard for him and the
Countess. He feels that he should be allowed to act unfaithfully, while his wife
is to remain completely faithful. The Count also portrays a very deceitful side
when tries to entice Susanna. He puts on a façade just to convince her to sleep
with him. Susanna's also portrays a somewhat deceitful side, although hers is
there to expose the deceitfulness of the Count. In Don Giovanni, the women in
the opera are portrayed somewhat, although not entirely different than they are
in The Marriage of Figaro. They do not seem to be on the same level of wisdom
and intelligence as they were in Don Giovanni. On the other hand, the men are
also portrayed as much more evil and deceptive as well. The women were portrayed
as being very emotional in Don Giovanni. Donna Anna is the most emotional
character in the opera. She is very vengeful (rightly so) when it comes to her
father's death and very vengeful toward the murderer himself. This
distressfulness is most evident in the scene when she gives the account of the
night of the murder to her husband Don Ottavio. We don't see any of the male
characters display this kind of free emotion. Donna Elvira, the ex-fiancé, is
another one of the main female characters in the opera. She is also a very
emotional character. When she meets Don Giovanni in the opera, she exhibits a
great amount of sadness and despair towards her former lover. She is also
portrayed as being very naïve when it comes to the reputation and intentions of
Don Giovanni. She is easily deceived by Don Giovanni's false promises and empty
flattery. Even though he had already left her once, she is foolish enough to
believe him again. And in the end, it turns out (as expected) that Don
Giovanni's promises and words of flattery were all just a total sham. The
audience watches as Donna Elvira is yet again duped by her former lover.
Zerlina's situation is very similar to that of Donna Elvira. She is wooed by Don
Giovanni and convinced by his false promises. She is also naïve as to his
intentions towards the opposite sex. She is unaware that Don Giovanni has a
reputation of being deceitful, shrewd, and very persuasive when it comes to
convincing women that he loves them. Mozart's perspective of women is displayed
in the characters of the women in his operas. He therefore perceives women the
way the audience would have perceived the women in his operas. For that reason,
he perceived women as very intelligent, wise, and emotional people. One has to
wonder just how different Mozart's perspective of women was compared to that of
the current time. If the two varied greatly, what kind of response did Mozart's
numerous operas (especially the two in question: The Marriage of Figaro and Don
Giovanni) receive from the audience? Did they appreciate the unusual female
perspective or did they frown upon it? Did they welcome the change as comedic or
consider it appalling because it was different?
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