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Explore Shakespeares presentation of Lady Macbeth and the witches. How might the presentation of female characters in Macbeth appeal to an Elizabethan audience?

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Rio Poulton Explore Shakespeare's presentation of Lady Macbeth and the witches. How might the presentation of female characters in 'Macbeth' appeal to an Elizabethan audience? Macbeth is a tragic play written by Shakespeare to entertain King James. As the play is a tragedy the play must have a down fall. There are different themes which are shown through-out the play such as murder, ambition and events that involve supernatural. Supernatural in presented in the play, because in 1606 when it was preformed people of those days believed in a lot of supernatural, witches and ghosts. These themes play a big part in the play. The play involved king James' ancestors but King James didn't not know this as it is based on a true story but Shakespeare changed all the things about the play that would give it away that it involved King James and his family. In act 1 Scene 1 Shakespeare begins with the three witches as it brings the theme of supernatural which people where interested in back then and drags the audience in as they now know that anything could happen. Pathetic fallacy is used to create tension at the start of the play. The thunder and lightening which connects to the witches and this is the sort of pathetic fallacy that you would expect to see if anything like witches are involved as witches are known to be evil and nasty ...read more.


and her reply 'We fail?' she is persuading him through that rhetorical question that they will not fail and that she is very determined for him to do it. It shows Lady Macbeth being in control of the situation also very manipulating. In act 2 ii, this is the scene where the theme of murder is brought into it. Lady Macbeth is presented as big, bold and brave as she has been drinking alcohol it have given her the thought that she is invincible. Lady Macbeth is not in a good state of mind. 'Hark, peace!' She then sees an owl which used to represent death. So far in the play you have been made to think Lady Macbeth is a strong character, so the fact she was frightened showed that she must be stressing about Macbeth. Once Lady Macbeth realises what Macbeth has done she calms down and goes back to her normal self. After what he has done, Macbeth starts to show feelings of guilt and regret and that he is starting to feel afraid, 'I am afraid to think what I have done.' In comparison to Lady Macbeth, she does not feel any of the feelings Macbeth feels, 'A little water clears us off this deed.' Lady Macbeth shows feelings that she is very sure that she is going to get away with what her husband has just done, as she is saying washing the blood of his hands will no longer show what he has done. ...read more.


Back then the way the female characters have been playing with the male characters head by being controlling and malicious would have been a huge shock for the audience because the women role was not to get involved or tell the male figures what to do. Act 5, scene I, Lady Macbeth is starting to become stressed and panicky again about King Duncan's murder, she has started to have nightmares about it. The doctor is rushed to see her, as she is weakening in strength. The audience would have agreed with this change in her character as she shouldn't have come up with the plan to kill the King in the first place, she had done it out of greed. In Scene V, Macbeth realises what Lady Macbeth has actually done, committed suicide, his reaction to this is negative as he starts to speak of the most delusional words and is no fit state. 'Liar and slave!' He mocks him as he calls the messenger a 'slave,' he has become upset and is now taking it out on someone else. Lady Macbeth's character shows that she was an act. She brought out a character that wasn't really herself and tried to make herself look big and powerful and in control, which she couldn't have been because she wouldn't have committed suicide which just goes to show that she wasn't a true character, she manipulated people, when really she wasn't as tough as she thought she was. ...read more.

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Response to the question

The introduction and lack of conclusion in this essay are areas to look at. The introduction offers nothing to the task, bolting on irrelevant context, not even mentioning Elizabethan audiences or women in the play. Yes, this essay does comment ...

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Response to the question

The introduction and lack of conclusion in this essay are areas to look at. The introduction offers nothing to the task, bolting on irrelevant context, not even mentioning Elizabethan audiences or women in the play. Yes, this essay does comment on the audience response, but it is key to mention how contemporary audiences may differ. This can be easily achieved by making a link between the fear of supernatural, and its presentation through the women in the play - an Elizabethan audience wouldn't have seen the appeal. It is okay to disagree with the question, and often it is easier to write a higher-level answer in doing so.

Level of analysis

This essay analyses quotes well, embedding them when appropriate. The style is sometimes a bit colloquial: "back in those days" but shouldn't detract from the sound use of technical terms throughout. It would've been nice to see some appreciation that Macbeth is a play - this is a common downfall of many GCSE essays, and can be easy way to access higher marks. To build upon the analysis, the question needs to be directly answered. Unfortunately, that last step is missed throughout this essay - an Elizabethan audience, or the extent to which women are presented as appealing is not answered whatsoever. This is quite obvious through the lack of a conclusion.

Quality of writing

This essay is structured well, with a chronological development. An area of improvement would be consistency: sometimes they refer to positions in the play as "Act 1 Scene 3" and then "act 2 ii" or "act 1 scene Vii". A common marking area for GCSE is the ability to write a quality essay, and inconsistencies such as these don't give the message that the essay is strong. It would be useful to note that varying the first sentence of each paragraph would contribute to this area. This essay starts a paragraph with a reference to the scene too often.

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Reviewed by groat 04/02/2012

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