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The Women In The Plays: Similar Or Different?

1361 words - 5 pages

William Shakespeare contributed many great plays to the history of literature, two of which include Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Macbeth tells the story of an ambitious lord, Macbeth, becoming corrupted after murdering the previous king and several of his friends. Similarly, in Julius Caesar, the conspirators murder the hero of Rome, Julius Caesar, because of their fear and jealousy of his rising power. The two stories both feature female characters moving the plot along and/or foreshadowing future events. Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s wife, takes part in the murder of King Duncan and Portia, Brutus’s wife, and Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, because of their worries for their husbands both tries to confront them in their own way. William Shakespeare structures the women in his play very differently from the women during his time. There are many differences between Lady Macbeth, Calpurnia, and Portia, but at the same time there are also many similarities between the three.

The Lady Macbeth from the beginning of the play seems remarkably similar to Portia in that they’re both strong-willed women ahead of their own time unlike Calpurnia. Lady Macbeth wishes herself to be a man, “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty…” (Macbeth 1.5.30-44). Lady Macbeth is very different from the typical woman at the time. Her focus is now set on murdering King Duncan Lady Macbeth’s real personality begins revealing itself through this quote; instead of a kind and loving woman her character seems vile and demonic. It’s clear that she’s determined to make Macbeth’s prophecy come true by any means necessary. Her willingness in this matter is another reason for her strong-willed mind. Portia is determined to know what’s bother her husband, “I should not need if you were gentle, Brutus.

Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus, is it excepted I should know no secrets that appertain to you…” (Julius Caesar 2.1.288-296). Like Lady Macbeth, Portia is also not a typical woman from her time, in fact she believes she deserves to know what’s wrong with her husband. In Ancient Rome women were weak and seen as merely property with almost no personal right. Portia talks to her husband more as an equal. She questions Brutus on his strange behavior and refuses to let him dismisses her question. Calpurnia tries to convince Caesar to stay home on the March 15th, “ Alas, my lord, your wisdom is consumed in confidence. Do not go forth today. Call it my fear that keeps you in the house, and not your own. We’ll send Mark Antony to the senate house, and he shall say you are not well today. (kneels) Let me, upon my knee, prevail in this” (Julius Caesar 2.2.49-54). Unlike Lady Macbeth and Portia, Calpurnia acts and behaves like a stereotypical woman from her time. Calpurnia is desperate in trying to prevent her husband from going because of the warning from her dream, but she can’t really speak up...

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