Lady Macbeth : The Ruthless Mastermind Essay

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Ever since Lady Macbeth’s debut in 1606, she has been one of Shakespeare’s most iconic female characters. The willing accomplice, the ruthless mastermind – indeed, her standard depiction as a conniving woman grasping for power in a man’s world has endured throughout the years. But who is to say that a depiction is immune to change? Most will generally see the Scotswoman as a typical one-dimensional villain, but in actuality, she was a strong woman able to overcome the limitations of her gender in order to become queen. The concept of gender roles is probably one of the most important themes in the plotline of Macbeth. While the role of the female has evolved substantially in more recent years, women’s roles in medieval times were very constricted. Indeed, "these roles were never stable, but repeatedly resituated between the poles of constraint and freedom, submission and authority, passivity and agency” (Dietrich 1). Regardless of whether one takes the society of 11th century Scotland into account or embraces Shakespeare’s 16th century morals, these women were typically reduced to a domestic role, their principal duty being to stay at home and care for their families. As such, they were unable to work outside the home, cast a political vote, or receive a basic education unless they chose to become a nun. Even the right to choose whether to marry or have children was unattainable. In the rare case that an unmarried woman inherited large amounts of land from their fathers or
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