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The Women Of Shakespeare Essay

1177 words - 5 pages

Women of Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s tragedies have been assiduously studied by scholars and drama enthusiasts for centuries. A fundamental aspect that adds to the high level of praise that has been bestowed upon his plays is the role of women. Although the primary protagonists in Shakespeare’s plays were men, female characters held dominant supporting roles. For Shakespeare the roles of women served to generally control the actions of the play while the male protagonists were left to be subjected by their wild emotional swings and grandiose displays of love. These dramatic and sometimes conniving exhibits of emotion were often spoken through long soliloquys that further added to the depth of the female character. The roles of women in Shakespeare’s tragedies still prove to be enigmatic even to the most adept scholar; there motives and actions provide necessary rising actions and prove to be essential to the plot. Shakespeare’s shrewd use of assigning the ability to conjure powerful emotions in their male counterparts truly testifies to the high level of complexity and female prowess that characterize the women of Shakespeare’s tragedies.
In Macbeth, the tragedy which tells the story of a noble general turned king, the title character is repeatedly influenced by his wife Lady Macbeth; who has more ambition to be a powerful ruler than her husband does. Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, is a highly decorated warrior who courageously fights for his king, Duncan of Scotland. Macbeth is a vassal to his lord and Duncan is willing to reward Macbeth handsomely for his victories on the battlefield. Once Macbeth defeats the Norwegian army and kills Macdonwald, Duncan plans to promote him to the title of Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is made aware of this promotion on his journey home by three witches who prophesize that he will occupy the post as Thane of Cawdor and then he will be crowned king of Scotland. This prophecy troubles and intrigues Macbeth who begins to question the fate of the current king. Once lady Macbeth gets wind of Macbeth’s destiny to usurp the throne from Duncan she occupies a central role in the play. Lady Macbeth reveals the conniving nature of her character when she chastises Macbeth for his lack of ambition. She resolves to take matters into her own hands because she feels Macbeth lacks the necessary ruthlessness needed to fulfill the prophecy. In her eyes Macbeth has the aspirations but not the resourcefulness to see the prophecy through. She devises a plan to kill Duncan when he will be staying as a guest at their home, a plan that she feels Macbeth would be unable to carry out without her direction and foresight. She advises Macbeth to appear unassuming saying that he should “look like an innocent/flower, / but be serpent underneath it” (1.5.67-68). The audience is left hanging on to her last lines of the scene “leave all the rest to me” (1.5.75) which allude to the ruthlessness of her character. It is she who catalyzes...

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