Feminism and Lady Macbeth

One of William Shakespeare’s plays that strongly contain feminism issue is Macbeth tragedy. Macbeth tragedy portrays cruelty, self ambition and power abuse (U.S: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc, 1985). Macbeth, the main character, is influenced by women in making decision of his life. Firstly, Macbeth is influenced by the prophecies of the three witches; to become a thane of Glamis, thane of Cawdor and then shall be a king one day (Act 1, Scene 3). Macbeth wrote a letter to his wife to tell about the prophecies. In order to fulfill the prophecies, Lady Macbeth initiated to murder the King, Duncan. Macbeth finally agreed to murder the King and took the throne. However, in the end, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth did not get happiness, they are dead. In this tragedy, Macbeth is a victim of the women who is made decisions in his life. The feminism issue in this drama is not good because the women were portrayed as a person who had a bad impact for the men. This essay will explore the feminism of Lady Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth seems to have a strong desire to fulfill the prophecies. When she asked her husband to murder the king, it showed that the her position as a woman is esteemed. She positioned herself as a woman that has authority to make a good decision even from his husband. She also mocked his husband while Macbeth hesitated to do the murdering. It can be seen from the conversation: “when you durst do it, then you were a man” (Act 1, scene 7) It means that if Macbeth dared to do the murdering, then he is a man and vice versa. Moreover, West (2010) adds that that conversation means “Lady Macbeth challenges her husband’s manhood, certainly encouraging him to murder”. From that, it can be said that Lady Macbeth controlled his husband and she has power.
Lady Macbeth also shows an irony behind his power. In line 55 Act 1, scene 7, she said: “I have given suck, and know how tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me-..Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out..”. She realizes that she is a woman and she should do those actions. In addition, Davis (2009) says that “according to materialist feminism theory, despite her strength, Lady Macbeth’s eventual weakness is a result of patriarchal of her gender”. Although Lady Macbeth is strong, she has weakness too. West (2011) also adds that “Lady Macbeth is certainly the most prominent example of monstrous feminism in the play. She defies traditional role of motherhood.. This perversion of one of the most sacred acts of motherhood enhances the horror of the length she would cross to achieve her goal”.

According to the nineteenth Century, feminine preserve: “it was the space of home and the hearth of sympathy and nurture, of simple piety and childrearing”. In this drama, Lady Macbeth did not fulfill that she is a good woman. She is selfish, did not harm, and over control. Ferrel (2011) says that “Lady Macbeth appears strong, rational, determined, ambitious, and at times even barbarous woman”.. Furthermore, Davis (2009) adds that “Lady Macbeth is selfish and abnormal. She does not have desire to have and to protect children”. From those, it can be concluded that Lady Macbeth is not a good woman. She does not show how the feminism of woman should be, that is: she should be as a home, a hearth, and also should have sympathy and nurture.
All in all, Lady Macbeth did not show feminism as a woman in Macbeth tragedy. She is selfish, abnormal, and ambitious woman. She initiated a murder and then make his husband, Macbeth, downfall. She also controlled his husband, even challenged his manhood. As a good wife, she should lead his husband to wise decision; has sympathy; nurture; and should be as a home and hearth.

References:

Allen, Emily, & Felluga, Dino. (2002). “Modules on General Introduction to Theories of Gender and Sex. Purdue University.
Available on http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/

Durband, Alan. 1985. Shakespeare Made Easy: Macbeth. U.S: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc

Davis, Marion A. 2009. A Brief Look at Feminism in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/67/a-brief-look-at-feminism-in-shakespeares-macbeth accessed on January 12th, 2012.

Ferrel, B David. 2011. Shakespearean Feminism, Desdemona and Lady Macbeth [1]. http://factoidz.com/shakespearean-feminism-desdemona-and-lady-macbeth-1/ accessed on January 12th, 2012.

West, Nadine. 2010. Feminism in Macbeth. http://bookstove.com/book-talk/feminism-in-macbeth/ accessed on January 12th, 2012.

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