In the 17th century women weren’t treated as they are today. They were treated as being inferior to men as their thoughts and opinions did not matter; their pursuits were restricted to domestic matters only (taking care of homes, raising children); they were completely controlled by their fathers and husbands and weren’t allowed to make any decisions of their own but were still devoted and supportive of their spouse. They were seen as powerless, weak and very submissive to men. Most women who opposed these social prejudices risked their lives and were often executed.
This essay will focus on Macbeth’s treatment of Lady Macbeth changes throughout the play and how it contrasts to the treatment of 17th Century Women and the societal norms of the time.
Paragraph 1: Act 1 Scene 5
In Act 1 Scene 5 Lady Macbeth is seen reading out a letter written by her husband explaining how he met with The Witches and how they prophesized him becoming King. In this scene Lady Macbeth is presented as a loving and devoted wife by stating “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be what thou art promised”. This suggests that her initial reaction to the letter is a pleasant one, saying that Macbeth will get what he is promised and that he is already a great man with his worthy titles as Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor and that he will be King. This is supported well by the use of the word “promised”, suggesting that she thinks so highly of Macbeth that there is no way that he couldn’t become King. She is so supportive of him that she promises that he shall become King without fail. This supports the idea of women in the 17th Century as she is showing devotion and commitment to her husband. But then the presentation of Lady Macbeth takes a sudden turn. She follows up the previous statement by saying “yet I do fear they nature, it is too full o’th’milk of human kindness”. This has