Feminity and Lady Macbeth

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Lady Macbeth, to some extent, can be considered an oxymoron, for within Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, her femininity is portrayed as the antithesis of what being an ideal woman and wife is about. Instead of being a graceful, elegant female faithful to the wishes and commands of her husband, Lady Macbeth’s character contradicts that kind of feminine role. She represents a different side of the characteristics of femininity. As one the most complex characters in the play, she is portrayed as a dark, manipulative and cunning woman, able to cast a wicked and harrowing spell over Macbeth.

If there is one thing that can be said about the kind of woman Lady Macbeth is, it is that she is a controlling wife. She behaves this way because she feels that she has to. From the start of her introduction in the play after reading Macbeth’s, she expresses her feelings about the situation that Macbeth has become involved in. Lady Macbeth does not think that her husband is capable of doing what is necessary in order to become the King of Scotland, as was prophesized by the Weird Sisters in a previous scene. She says that Macbeth is “too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way.” (I, iv, 16-17).

Realizing that she will have to push Macbeth towards murdering King Duncan, she calls upon supernatural spirits that will strip her of her feminine qualities and fill her “from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty.” She is essentially asking to be made into a man, but this is impossible. What she really wants is to gain is the manipulative and cunning power she needs to persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan. It is clear that in one way or another her command is fulfilled, for in the remainder of the play she overrides Macbeth’s episodes of weakness with her manipulative power that only a female such as Lady Macbeth can exhibit.

Lady Macbeth’s behavior as a controlling wife dominates the scenes that precede and follow Duncan’s murder. It is at her...
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