Okay, don’t stone me for being sacrilegious. But let’s be honest – if we’re looking for totally tough girls to look up to, Shakespeare isn’t exactly producing cream of the crop type stuff. If he did, things might look more like this:
Ophelia: Forget going crazy and killing yourself after your boyfriend – also a few eggs short of a dozen – kills your conspiring father. No. Kick butt Ophelia would have stepped in when her friend Hamlet (because tough girls know better than to date those moody bad boys) started heading to the funny farm, hooked him up with an awesome mentoring older dude, showed her daddy a little forgiveness for being a putz, then gotten herself out of that miserable Denmark and headed somewhere tropical.
Katherine: Okay, first off, no girl should be referred to as a shrew in need of taming. That being said, kick butt Katherine would keep her independent spirit while getting rid of that man hating spirit. She’d be just as smart and sassy with a little more gentleness and a lot more kindness.
Portia: There isn’t much to fault Portia with. She’s obviously very pretty, smart, crafty, and resourceful. She’s submissive to her father even when he has a rather unorthodox way of finding her a husband (Step right up, gentlemen! You’ve a one in three shot here!). She’s thoughtful and kind, saving that merchant of Venice, yet also administers judgment and justice. Sounds like a stand out tough girl, right? Ladies, do me a favor – don’t dress like a man. No mission, friendship, or relationship is worth it! Don’t dress like a man.
Juliet: But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? Not Juliet! Kick butt Juliet wouldn’t be up late thinking about how she wants to throw away her life in order to run off with some guy she just met. No, tough girl Juliet would go on a couple of group dates with Romeo, let him woo her parents before he tried to woo her, and there would be no poisons, swords, or suicide whatsoever.
All that being said, there’s one Shakespeare girl that seems to rise above the rest:
Beatrice: Who doesn’t want to be known as strong, fiery, fiercely loyal in the friend department, a loving daughter, and totally content with being single? Top it all off with ending up with that guy she always pretended to hate but secretly loved, just biding her time till he came to his senses. She wasn’t much ado about nothing. She just knew what to be ado about.