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Dmytro Buianskyi

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Shakespeare’s Cleopatra embodies energy because the Queen of Egypt, argues Mrs Lunnon

Younger ladies ought to mannequin themselves on Shakespeare’s heroines as a substitute of actuality stars like Kim Kardashian West, says a number one head trainer.

Jane Lunnon, head of Wimbledon Excessive Faculty, needs women to give attention to characters like Cleopatra, “who wield energy and affect in a person’s world”.

She has launched a challenge to encourage pupils to think about Shakespeare’s heroines in up to date environment.

“Cleopatra exhibits which you could be each flawed and good,” mentioned Mrs Lunnon.


The challenge stemmed from a ballot of pupils on the women’ college in south-west London which confirmed important quantity regarded Kim Kardashian West and pop star Taylor Swift as position fashions.

“I simply thought there’s something regarding about this,” mentioned Mrs Lunnon, talking on the annual assembly of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Convention which represents high personal college leaders.

Kardashian West, who’s married to rapper Kanye West and was robbed at gunpoint in Paris this week, rose to prominence within the TV present Preserving Up With The Kardashians.

Mrs Lunnon identified parallels between the fact star and Cleopatra, the ruler of Egypt and lover of Julius Caesar and, later, of Mark Antony.

“The factor about Cleopatra is it is… about picture and the way she sells the parable of Cleopatra. Kim Kardashian is promoting the parable about Kim Kardashian.”

However the essential distinction is in Cleopatra’s further capability to embody energy because the Queen of Egypt, added Mrs Lunnon.

“She stays this unbelievable, robust icon, past her love for a person.”

Mrs Lunnon acknowledged that followers of Kim Kardashian West argue that she is a “unbelievable businesswoman” who has made essentially the most of her belongings.

“It isn’t a lot that she’s a task mannequin however I fear if she is the dominant position mannequin on the market,” she mentioned.

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Mrs Lunnon says actuality stars corresponding to Kim Kardashian West shouldn’t be the one position fashions for younger ladies

She mentioned she was additionally involved that the TV character trades on a picture of airbrushed perfection.

In contrast, Shakespeare’s description of Cleopatra is of somebody whose magnificence is flawed, Mrs Lunnon identified.

The younger ladies in Shakespeare’s comedies, “who face adversity with vim and vigour”, must be one other supply of inspiration, she added.

Specifically, she talked about:

  • the robust and cynical Beatrice in A lot Ado About Nothing, who rails in opposition to the unequal standing of girls
  • the exiled Rosalind in As You Like It, admired for her intelligence and fast wit in addition to her magnificence
  • and the resourceful Viola in Twelfth Night time who survives a shipwreck and disguises herself as a person to search out work.

Mrs Lunnon mentioned: “Take a look at Rosalind, have a look at Beatrice, have a look at Viola, the capability in problem and dilemma and ache, to like, to be vivacious, to be resourceful, to be resilient – they embody it so vividly, and that may be a actually highly effective message.

“It isn’t that horrible issues occur to them, it is how they reply.”

Pilot scheme

Mrs Lunnon mentioned the pilot scheme was “nonetheless within the foothills” – however in the end she want to lengthen it in partnership with state colleges.

“As an English trainer I am very used to utilizing Shakespeare as an important supply for mental stimulation and exploration – however actually probing and utilizing Shakespeare as a pastoral instructional software I assumed was actually attention-grabbing and, specifically, Shakespeare’s characters as position fashions.”

Jacqui O’Hanlon, director of training on the Royal Shakespeare Firm, advised the convention: “You do not have to work very arduous to get younger individuals to interact with the up to date relevance of Shakespeare’s work.

“As quickly as you begin placing them within the sneakers of the characters and getting them to talk the textual content and take into consideration the dilemmas these characters are in, they’re mechanically making reference to their very own lives.”