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Macbeth - Women In The Play

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Introduction

In this essay, I will discuss how Shakespeare has represented woman in his shortest tragedy, Macbeth. Macbeth, a play written in 1603, tells the tale of the dangers of lust for power and betrayal of friends. In this play, we follow Macbeth as he starts of as a noble warrior who is controlled by his wife and his rise to power. By Act 3 Scene 1, he has assumed the kingship. The rest of the play follows the disintegration of all that he has achieved, a process which ends in his death and his throne being overtaken with a new king. In the Shakespearean era, there was an order in society, similarly to how there is in India today. People stuck to their role in the social order and believed that anybody who stepped out of their right was chastised. In the early 1600's, people were very religious. Nearly the whole of Great Britain were strict followers of the Christian religion and the Bible. This meant that they believed God was at the top of this order. People also believed that God had a representative on Earth, in the form of the Monarch. If some one threatened the sovereign's rule, that person was considered an enemy of God, and usually was excommunicated, killed, or exiled. It was a way in which to keep all the citizens in line and punish them in the name of God. The King of England at the time was basically the closest person to God. As many people believed in God, they also believed that the King was omnipotent as well. When Macbeth tries to take kingship later on in the novel, we see that he fails and that maybe, Shakespeare is showing that anyone who refuses to stay in their rightful place will suffer. Below the King, came his noble men known as thanes. They were part of the aristocratic class of men and were very well respected. ...read more.

Middle

A soliloquy makes the audience feel more involved in the play and this will make them not lose interest as it grabs their attention as they reveal their thoughts to solely the audience. Soliloquies are used many times in this play and are a fundamental part for the audience to understand what is really going on. It helps the audience understand things that the actors on stage do not know, adding dramatic irony as the audience are more informed than the other characters. Macbeths writes the letter in prose but the switch from prose to verse by Lady Macbeth shows that she is also similar to the witches as they often speak in verse when planning a spiteful act. Shakespeare has used this quick switch to show the difference between good and bad, with Macbeth representing the innocent and Lady Macbeth representing the malevolent. The first soliloquy that Lady Macbeth uses is the word after she receives this letter from Macbeth. She says that Macbeth is too full of human kindness and saying that because of this, he won't achieve what he strives for. Shakespeare uses a type of dehumanisation to portray Macbeth as this sort of character. To say that he is 'too full of milk' also links in when Lady Macbeth later says to the spirits that she wants to get rid of her milk in place of poison. Here we see a role reversal and that Macbeth is the one carrying the milk or kindness and caring that a mother should ideally have. During all his life, Macbeth has kept his ambition to be the King under ethical control. When the witches come to him and say that he will be King, he is startled and his fantasies come to light. Lady Macbeth is saying that he does have ambition but not enough malevolence in him to take advantage of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

From the first scene until the witches gradually disappear, a supernatural feeling remains in all the acts. The witches, later joined by Lady Macbeth both emit feelings of supernatural powers. During this play, the witches are never referred to as witches by any of the characters but only as 'Weird Sisters.' Shakespeare has probably used this to leave the meaning ambiguous. The name 'Weird Sisters' is vague and Shakespeare implies that they can obviously be witches, or more uncommonly just women, who use their humanly powers such as listening and seeing to their advantage to scare people into believing they have supernatural powers. Fate and destiny is another theme present in the play. At the beginning we see that Macbeth marks his own fate and destiny, but when he meets the witches and they tempt him with the idea of power, he is under their control. The witches predict that he will naturally come into power, but again he decides to take fate into his own hands and kills King Duncan. We realise that this is not a knowledgeable decision as Banquo realises and Macbeths murdering spree begins. Shakespeare is showing that we, as humans, create our own destiny and often taking fate into our own hands can have perilous effects. In conclusion, it is clear that Shakespeare has made the women play an evil influence in Macbeth's life and they play a significant part in the plot of the play. The women in this play are seen to be very domineering and cunning, unlike most of the women at the time. The women in this play lead to his downfall as he is motivated by his wife and the witches. Clearly, Shakespeare is showing that powerful women always lead to their downfall as well as the collapse of others. Women should stay in their lowly ranks or the natural order of the universe will be upset. The influence of women should be ignored is the overall message that Shakespeare's most dramatic and powerful play is trying to bring forward. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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