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The Two Faces Of Women In British Literature

1846 words - 8 pages

Throughout history women have always been considered lesser than men. Women were portrayed as property to men, nothing more. They were supposed to be seen and not heard, and were basically servants to their husbands and fathers. In order for women to even be considered more than property their father or spouse had to be established in the community or a man of high rank. Despite their subservient roles women in British literature have always been depicted as obedient or unruly, from William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, to Beowulf, to Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.” For example, women have always been portrayed as being housewives, and care takers. Women were supposed to tend to the men and all of the house hold duties and chores; however some women broke away from that stereotype. They became more and curious and aware of their worth, so they were viewed as temptresses or “rebels” against the social norm. Despite the fact that women have evolved throughout history, British literature has always characterized women in two different lights, one being obedient and submissive and another being powerful and strong willed. In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, he represents the powerful type of woman in the character of Lady Macbeth. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is the wife of a Scottish Thane, Macbeth. Three witches prophesized to Macbeth that he would become the Thane of Glamis and that he will eventually become the King. Becoming a new Thane will provide Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with more money, land, and a bigger, while becoming a king would provide even greater power for the both of them. When Lady Macbeth heard of this news she pressured Macbeth to kill the current king, King Duncan. She shows signs of manipulation when Macbeth tells her that, “we will proceed no further in this business: / he hath honored me of late, and I have bought / golden opinions from all sorts of people, / which would be worn now in their newest gloss, / not cast aside so soon” (I.7.31-34). By telling Lady Macbeth this, he is basically stating that he does not want to go through with the assassination of King Duncan, since he has done so much for the both of them. Later Lady Macbeth manipulates him by stating “Was the hope drunk / Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath is slept since? / And wakes it now, to look so green and pale / At what it did so freely? From this time / Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard / To be the same thine own act and valor / As thou art in desire?” (I.7.36-40). Lady Macbeth continues her acts of manipulation when she questions Macbeth`s manhood by exclaiming “What beast was it then / That made you break this enterprise to me? / When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And to be more than what you were, you would / Be so much more the man” (I.7.48-51). Author of “Macbeth Lady”, Allison Findlay, states that, “Lady Macbeth is described as ‘fiend- like’ and allies herself with the de- feminized witches or weird sisters by invoking...

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