Roles of Women in Literature Essay

518 Words 3 Pages
The Realm of Women in Literature
     “So it is naturally with the male and the female; the one is superior, the other inferior; the one governs, the other is governed; and the same rule must necessarily hold good with respect to all mankind.” This quote, spoken by the famous Aristotle, proves to be timeless. The words express knowledge concerning gender that proves to be centuries ahead of its time. Aristotle however, may not have even realized the amount of truth expressed in these few, simple words. Men are commonly thought of as the dominant of the two sexes, but as we have seen through many of the literary works studied, this is most certainly not the case. In dealing with books such as Macbeth written by
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Lady Macbeth’s burning ambition to be queen drives her to the point of insanity. She stops at nothing to gain power and uses Macbeth as the enforcer for her plans. This power is clearly illustrated as her husband follows her command to kill the king of Scotland, she constantly taunts Macbeth bringing him even further under her control. She is quite the opposite of how we generally assume feminine characters to act, and even begs the gods to remove her femininity at one point, “...Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here...Come to my woman’s breasts, and take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers...” (Shakespeare 12). As Lady Macbeth expresses her desire to become unsexed, we see the link that clearly exists between masculinity and murder. She believes that since she is a woman she cannot be capable of committing such evil deeds, and her reference to her breasts which is generally linked to the idea of nurture, is called upon in reference to her desire to do quite the opposite. Lady Macbeth presents a very strong character throughout the play, and through her actions a very clear picture of a manipulative wife is painted. Though Macbeth is the one to carry out many of the deviant plans, Lady Macbeth’s role is clearly portrayed as the evil mastermind behind the murders.
     Another memorable female character is undoubtedly Brigid O’Shaughnessy as her role as a scandalous damsel in