Nature 's own sweet and cunning hand laid on.
Lady, you are the cruell 'st she alive
If you will lead these graces to the grave
And leave the world no copy.
Shakespeare compares Olivia 's beauty created by nature to that of a perfect painting. Through the use of this metaphor, …show more content…
Viola says, " Lady, you are the cruell 'st she alive if you will lead these graces to the grave and leave the world no copy."(1.5, 211-213). Olivia is so beautiful that it would be cruel of her to not reproduce before she dies in order to carry on such beauty. Using the term cruel implies that her beauty is shared among the world as people can see her and admire her looks. Just like a piece of art sitting in a museum, Olivia is cherished among her peers. Leaving no copy would mean that the world would no longer be able to enjoy her beauty together and that art would be lost. Therefore Shakespeare believes it would be cruel for her to not marry and reproduce since people wouldn 't be able to see such splendor after she passes. Along with this, the term cruel also implies that creating a copy of her beauty is her responsibility. Though Shakespeare isn 't saying she must go out and find someone to share love and a marriage with, she still must make a decision as a beautiful woman regarding the many possible men who chase her. This still entertains the notion that men must pursue the woman they desire in order to have them, but maintains the idea that the choice ultimately lies within the woman who is being sought after. This dynamic empowers women, giving them the executive power to make this decision. This is why it is her duty to the world to pass on her attractiveness, and if she doesn 't, she is considered cruel as she wastes away beauty gifted to her by nature. This shifting of power from men to women was perhaps very controversial in the time he wrote this as it was the general consensus that men were those in power. Shakespeare 's belief shown through this quote is that women are those that decide on the continuation of beauty and are therefore equally important to men in the world since nature 's art is better maintained than