Women in Gothic Literature Essay

862 Words Jun 12th, 2011 4 Pages
Women in gothic literature are presented as either evil or victims how far do you agree?
The Gothic genre is an increasingly popular area for feminist studies, showing contrasts in society at the time and the expectations of women within it. In pre industrial times, women were expected to play a subservient role to men, they were expected to marry young and bare children, they would simply care for their husbands and support the family, they were denied the right to vote or own property and were expected to be the innocently silent, supportive backbone behind patriarchal society. It is noted that female characters in Gothic novels and plays often fall into one of two categories: innocent victims, subservient to the strong and powerful male
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Lucy Westenra, signifying the stereotypical victim, of “unequalled sweetness and purity,” symbolises the change in feminine identity within the story after she shows deviant traits, transforming from her previously repressed tender character into a strong sexual demon.
Lady Macbeth, in contrast is never depicted as a soft tender female figure, instead Shakespeare makes her ambitious character apparent from the start, after reading the letter from her husband, telling her about the Witches’ predictions, the seed of ambition grows within her and immediately a plan forms in her head, her first speech is one full of strong metaphors, “come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top full of direst cruelty.” This initial speech is so powerful and strong, as she summons spirits to give her the strength of a man, so that she has the vigour to plot Duncan’s murder, and convince Macbeth to form an alliance with her, ensuring he will become king, just as the Witches predicted. Although the Witches…