Gender Inequality in the Elizabethan Era

Topics: Gender, Macbeth, Masculinity Pages: 3 (1002 words) Published: November 14, 2012
How often do you see female prime ministers, househusbands, or lady soldiers? Although there are a larger variety of jobs and characteristics both men and women can possess in these modern times, gender inequality thrived in the Elizabethan era. Men were seen as the leaders who were brave and subject to war, whereas women were portrayed as their usual quiet self who are usually unable or not supposed to interfere with their husbands' affairs. Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, employs the use of conventions to portray female characters as more dominant and controlling compared to males, challenging the naturalised notions of masculinity and femininity.

Women in general are given a lot of power in the play, such as being able to control things like their own destinies. From the first Act of the play, the three witches immediately create the impression of horror, evil and violence. During the witches’ conversation, the second witch was said to be “Killing swine” whilst the third planned to kill a sailor for his wife’s selfishness (Act 1, Scene 3). Everything that the witches do implies otherworldly power and a sense of inescapable and enchanting evil. Since harmless and kind hearted females were the norm in society at the time, ‘the witches’ roles are reversed, showing masculine traits of violence and bravery. Furthermore, the witches are also very manipulative in their actions slowly taking control over Macbeth’s mind. The power of the witches is shown through their ability to manipulate people. Banquo acknowledges that the dark forces do tell honesty and truth but lead to betrayals that induce “deepest consequence” (act 1 scene 3).” Macbeth, unlike Banquo, is easily manipulated by the witches, leading to the spree of tragedies occurring to him. Further on in the play, Macbeth came running back to the witches seeking assurance and guidance, asking them to control his destiny or speak into his life. Women were stereotypically seen as unable to make decisions without a...
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