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How does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 1 Scene 7?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 5 and Act 1 Scene 7? Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies and was first performed in 1611, however it was written in 1603. This was in the Elizabethan period, which despite the country being ruled by a woman; women had to be obedient towards their masters. Women of the time had to be the housewives who did the cooking and looked after the children, and the men were the breadwinners. From the aspect of theatre, all women roles were played by young boys, this proved difficult especially in Macbeth, where a woman is acting as though she is a man. This is both ironic and complex as she is subject to a hyper masculine world. Lady Macbeth is a very intricate character in that she has both masculine and feminine qualities that intertwine throughout the play. While being very authoritative when talking to Macbeth in the early scenes of the play, she is also quite easily distressed. This is apparent when she faints at the sight of the dead bodies of the guards and exclaims 'help me hence, ho!' Fainting in Shakespearean times was seen to be a very womanly attribute. Shakespeare has used Lady Macbeth to show what it is like for a woman as she was frustrated with the restrictions put upon her gender. ...read more.

Middle

The other chief paradox in the play is the theme of being maternal, Lady Macbeth expresses her feelings about the sweetness of babies, explaining that she knows 'how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me' This shows Lady Macbeth's conventional side, showing that she can be loving and caring, it also tells the audience and readers that Lady Macbeth have some kind of a child and that she has lost that child because there is no mention of it thereafter this section. The contrast to the conventional side is that she would 'dash the brains out' of the baby. This is very shocking and unconventional language that stirs up mixed emotions inside the readers and listeners of the play. Shakespeare has complicated the role of Lady Macbeth by making her seem more masculine in both her language and her actions. Lady Macbeth rejects femininity yet again when saying 'make thick my blood'. This shows her need for strength, it could also be interpreted as her saying that she wants menstruation to stop, as it is a reminder of being a female. Another metaphor for the menstruation is 'that no compunctions visitings of nature'. This also shows that she is rejecting femininity and wanting menstruation to stop. Also the extended metaphor of milk is used again in this section when she begs 'take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore a woman partaking in manly activities is not frowned upon, many women nowadays are choosing occupations instead of settling down with a family, and they are certainly allowed to have a say in any relationship they are in. Consequently an audience of today would see Lady Macbeth as a normal woman in that she is intelligent and independent in her own right, however they would be disapproving of her plotting murder against the monarchy but the reaction would not necessarily be so intense. Shakespeare has presented Lady Macbeth as a clever and controlling woman that is confused by the hyper masculine world she is subject to. However from the audience's point of view it could be seen as misogynistic, as it is showing a woman to be like a man, it shows that it does not work, as Lady Macbeth eventually breaks down. Therefore it could reveal what Shakespeare thinks would happen if a female acted like a male. Throughout this tragedy Shakespeare builds up the character of Lady Macbeth from the first word she says to the last few words before her suicide. Shakespeare has created a domineering and intellectual character which is ready to face the prejudices of the Elizabethan era. To a tee she overcomes these chauvinisms and cleverly reverses the convention that a woman should do as a man says the basis for the entire play. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alex Russell X10 ...read more.

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