Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Lady Macbeth and Her Gender Essay

In Shakespeare’s time women were considered to stay ay home, do the housework and to look after the children after they were married. The role of women was just to please men. Women had no right and no choices because men defined women. A young women’s future was defined by their father and they had no choice to refuse. In Shakespeare’s time, which was the Elizabethan period, there were no actresses and men played women in plays. To women in those times the play ‘Macbeth’ would seem very strange as Lady Macbeths character is nothing like women in then, even to men the character would seem strange. Lady Macbeth is an ambiguous character as she has two sides to her, one side is that she is fiendlike and the other is that she is not fiendlike. The first time we meet lady Macbeth, is when she was reading a letter that Macbeth had written to her telling her about the witches prophecy. She reads the letter and says ‘yet I do fear thy nature, it is too full o’th’ milk of human kindness’. She thinks that Macbeths is too kind to do anything to become king, she says that he is ‘too’ kind, but no one can be too kind to kill anyone. She then says a spell, ‘pour my sprits in their ear’ and she wants to give her evil sprits to him and she has to take away the human kindness and fill it up with evil. This was the very first encounter with Lady Macbeth and this will make the audience think that she is evil, which would shock the audience. Lady Macbeth’s understanding of ambition is evil. ‘Without illness should attend it’. The word illness actually means evil so she is saying without evil you can’t be ambitious. The verb ‘should’ indicate that Lady Macbeth feels that evil must always accompany ambition. Lady Macbeth has just heard that the king, Duncan is coming to stay at their castle. Lady Macbeth say’s a soliloquy and calls on evil sprits to assist her murderous plans. ‘The raven himself is hoarse†¦Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Lady Macbeths knows that she’s a woman and can’t commit the crime so she says ‘unsex me here’. If she is unsexed then she would not be a woman but a man and her feminine side would be taken away. Lady Macbeth wants to be filled with ‘direst cruelty’ so that she can kill the king with hesitating. This soliloquy is actually a spell. We know this is a spell because she is calling on sprits to unsex her. To an Elizabethan audience and to our modern audience it is still odd for some one casting a spell. In the scene there are many mood changes from excitement to fury. This has a dramatic effect on the audience as the scene started off with a lot of excitement from lady Macbeth and then changed to a furious state towards Macbeth. ‘Look like th’innocent flower, but be serpent under it’. Here lady Macbeth is telling Macbeth to look innocent but be evil inside. This is like Adam and Eve where Adam is Macbeth and eve is Lady Macbeth and the serpent tempted them. This also spoiled their stay in paradise and to Macbeth and lady Macbeth it will spoil the whole existence of the world, as they will be breaking the chain of being. This shows us that lady Macbeth is fiendlike and doesn’t care about the rest of the world. Two scenes later lady Macbeth says something very shocking, which may have just changed Macbeth’s mind. ‘Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I sworn as you have done this’, here lady Macbeth is telling Macbeth that she would kill her own child and throw it on the floor and let it die than break a promise she had made. This is pure evil and again to an Elizabethan audience and to our modern audience this is odd, as no one would say that. After Macbeth kills the king and two guards are saying their prayers and he couldn’t say ‘amen’. This worried Macbeth and all Lady Macbeth could say was ‘consider it not so deeply’. She didn’t care about his feelings and what he was going through and just simply forgot about it. Lady Macbeth is meant to look out for Macbeth, but she really has more control over Macbeth and he does not say anything to her as men in those days would. Lady Macbeth orders him to put the dagger back but he still in shock so she does it her self. In the play lady Macbeth is also not fiendlike towards Macbeth, and tries to support and help him. The first place where lady Macbeth is not fiendlike is when she was calling Macbeth a coward, which was in act 1 scene 7, just before Duncan is murdered. Lady Macbeth may have looked like she was being fiendlike towards Macbeth, when she was calling him a coward. ‘ And live a cowed in thane own esteem’, Macbeth could be saying this to him so that his dream of being king would come true and not for her to be queen. She called him all these names like a ‘coward’, ‘spineless’ and ‘lack of manliness’ to make him say no he’s not and so he would prove her wrong. Lady Macbeth also said ‘but screw your courage to the sticking-place’, and this means be a man and this finally got him and he gave in. I think that it actually worked and it was the turning point and then murdered Duncan. In the second scene of act two lady Macbeth shows a week side in her as she say’s ‘had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done’t. This shows us that she has some compassion in her and is not all evil. This has a bit of a effect on the audience as they now know she isn’t all evil. After the deed is done Macbeth says this is a ‘sorry sight’ and lady Macbeth replies with ‘a foolish thought, to say a sorry sight’, she is saying its too late now you’ve done it and your dreams will come true. She is keeping his hopes up and is also trying to forget about it. When Macduff tells Duncan’s son of their father’s murder, Macbeth has to depend himself and to help him out lady Macbeth faints in order to bring the attention away from Macbeth so that he would not be questioned. If she did not care about Macbeth she would have not done this. So this shows that she does love Macbeth. Lady Macbeth has her times when she is pure evil but she also cares about Macbeth and about his well-being. She was very strong and kept her emotions inside her until the end and it drove her to sleep walk and then at the end to suicide. She kept it all inside for Macbeth so he would not get worried and so therefore I can’t say she is fiendlike or not.

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