The Changing Attitudes of Lady Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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The Changing Attitudes of Lady Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Macbeth In Shakespearean England, women’s role in society was very different to what it is today. Today, women are allowed, and in fact, almost expected to be educated, independent, confidant, outspoken, and to go to work, to provide for themselves. In the 1600’s, it wasn’t like that. Women were gentle, kind, and fragile. If they were well off, they were expected to stay at home and sew, whilst their husbands went out and earnt the money. Poorer women still had to stay at home, and they had to cook, clean, and generally look after the house. Women were submissive; to be seen and not heard, and it was unusual for a woman to be…show more content…
Lady Macbeth also talks about how she wants to be ‘unsexed’; she wants her breasts filled with poison instead of milk. The fact that she focuses on her breasts is significant; she wants to rid herself of the most feminine part of her, the part that represents being a woman. By wishing away the milk in her breasts she is wishing away the feelings of love, gentleness and tenderness that goes with being a mother. However, though she is wishing away her femininity, she uses a female method of getting her way; she manipulates Macbeth into agreeing to kill the king when he refuses later in the play. She repeatedly attacks him and wears down his defence, first questioning his love for her, and then criticising him as a man. Finally, the last blow is the ultimate blackmail; she says that she knows what it feels like to feed a baby and yet she would rather kill the baby than break a promise like he has. Since elsewhere in the play, it is mentioned that Macbeth doesn’t have any children, and so Lady Macbeth mentioning this indicates that maybe they did have a child and it passed away. This shows how cold-hearted Lady Macbeth is; she brings up something that would hurt Macbeth more than anything, even though it is completely irrelevant, just to make sure she
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