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Different Societies Responses to Macbeth.

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Different Societies Responses to Macbeth.

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  • Feb. 2012
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Over time our society changes: our values and beliefs, how we understand the world and even how we view people in our society. When analysing the Shakespearean play Macbeth it is essential consider how the original 17th century Elizabethan audience would have interpreted it. Macbeth is the story of the regicide of King Duncan of Scotland, by the war hero Macbeth and Macbeth’s bloody rise to becoming a tyrant, leading to his downfall resulting in his death. Macbeth depicts key issues from the early 17th century such as ideas of supernatural powers, witchcraft, kingship and loyalty to the king. An Elizabethan audience would have responded to Macbeth in a much different way than a contemporary audience due to the two societies different views towards gender equality, kingship, and their beliefs in the supernatural and different understanding of the world. In 17th century Elizabethan society there was a clear separation in the equality of the sexes; people lived in a patriarchy in which females were expected to serve their man and it was unnatural for a woman to have power. But today the genders are on much more equal standings. These differences in equality cause Macbeth to be read differently by a contemporary audience to an Elizabethan audience. Women in Elizabethan times, by nature, were not supposed to have power, but in the play Lady Macbeth holds power over Macbeth; when she believes Macbeth will be unable to murder Duncan, due to his “nature” and “human kindness”, she plans to “pour my spirits into thine ear” in order to empower his weakness with her strengths . When plotting to kill Duncan she calls upon spirits to “unsex” her because for her to assist in murder she could not be feminine or weak. Despite this call to masculinise her, Lady Macbeth is still a woman. In this patriarchy when Lady Macbeth gained power it turned her insane (“here’s the smell of blood… all the perfumes of Arabia could not sweeten this little hand”). Lady Macbeth is an unnatural...

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