Beginning with Lady Macbeth summoning evil spirits, to her not being able to hear the horrible news, to Macbeth questioning the masculinity of three murderers, to Macduff deciding to do more than just sit back and watch, to the death of the son of the King of England, gender roles can be found in crack and corner of Macbeth. Starting early in the play, after reading Macbeth’s letter about being told his prophecy of becoming king, Lady Macbeth decides that it is Macbeth’s fate to become king. She knows how loyal Macbeth is to Duncan but she knows she can force Macbeth to betray Duncan. Shakespeare uses this moment to go against tradition and has the good wife of the honorable man start meddling in evil. To do this, she calls upon unholy “spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts” to “unsex [her] here” (I.v.46-49).
In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude marries King Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle. In a way, Hamlet does feel betrayed by his mother’s marriage to her recently deceased husband’s brother. He feels as if she did not love his father, for if she did, she would have grieved longer. Through Hamlet and Queen Gertrude’s relationship and interactions, Shakespeare shows how even those closest to one can feel betrayed by actions and decisions that do not directly involve them. However, whether purposeful or not, Shakespeare does only portray familial betrayal.
His attitude towards social standards are one of scorn. Therefore, Shakespeare’s twist on gender roles exhibits his disdain towards the traditional, stereotypical standards of society through the characterization of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, the Three Witches and their influence on the Macbeths, and the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are described as characters that adhere to the traditional gender role construct. Macbeth is first presented as the a noble and general in King Duncan’s army, the ruler of Scotland. In Act 1 Scene
Shakespeare’s novel diverges the audience and leads to the questionable ideologies that were said to be bestowed by the Creator himself. During the time period of Early Modern England, women were restricted to a certain way of living. This satirical and patriarchal belief led to Macbeth challenging the traditional role of women through the masculine portrayal of Lady Macbeth. Consumed by the ambition the witches prophecies game her, Lady Macbeth demands the spirits to “unsex [her] here” [1.5.2] In order to commit murder, she must first rid herself of any empathy ad love she possesses. She is subverting and undermining the
As newly crowned king, Macbeth demonstrates similar ambitiousness to that of Lady Macbeth’s in earlier Acts, while Lady Macbeth becomes the more submissive of the two. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth before the Duncan’s murder, is best represented in Act 1, scene 7, when Lady Macbeth insults her husband for his apprehension about the Duncan murder. She relentlessly questions him saying, “Was the hope drunk/Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?/And wakes it now to look so green and pale/At what it did so freely?” (1.7.35-38). The discussion between the married couple in Act 3, scene 2, signals the change in their relationship.
Shakespeare’s Othello occurs in sixteenth-century Europe during the Renaissance, a time when men believe they are paramount. Because they are subservient to men, women are weak and objectified. Women also have limits to their freedoms and opinions. In royal families, dire times cause for the princess to marry against her will to form alliances. Religion also pressures women into obeying men, the Church considers any form of disobedience as a crime.
In a literary article,The Role of Women in Othello: A Feminist Reading states that,” Society weighs heavily on the shoulders of women; they feel that they must support the men and defer to them, even if the actions of the men are questionable” (Literary Articles). Although Emilia does not ever say these powerful words out loud, she is still willing to not follow her husbands commands despite his strong character. Emilia proves again that she has powerful thoughts when she stated that,”Let husbands know, Their wives have sense like them; they see and smell, And have their palates both for sweet and sour As husbands have’ (Othello IV.3.92-5) Emilia contends that women are physically the same to men,they both get distraught and have issues that trouble each other, they should treat each other similarly. Women can still analyze literature about the inequality and rights for women through many of the injustices that are modern today.
Therefore, William Shakespeare shows how the feminist perspective is not the best lens to view modern literature in his play “Othello”, when Shakespeare shared through Othello in Act 3 when he speaks to Iago that “The man whose wife has been unfaithful lives happily as long as he does not love his wife” (Shakespeare, 127). Likewise, this quote shows how the feminist perspective might not show us how women were treated in the 1600s; this scene explains how men were not expected to love their wife and not expected to care. He is allowed to be happy as long as he didn’t love his wife. This is absorbing because we can see in modern days that men expect women to love them even if they don’t. Lastly, women then and now are expected to love their husbands even if they aren’t being treated right whereas men don’t need to love their wife if they don’t want
148-149). Odysseus getting ready to mingle with the women proves that he is disloyal to Penelope because as a married man he should only be loyal to his wife and not be thinking about other women in that way. Along with that Odysseus is being disloyal through his actions because he is mingling with Nausicaa but also mingles with her handmaids. Another example includes Odysseus gushing to Nausicaa, “I see her now- just look at your build, your bearing, your lithe flowing grace...” (6. 166-167).
Portia is still listing meaningful reasons for Brutus to put faith in her, and ends up accidentally degrading herself whilst doing so. She says, “I grant I am a woman; but withal/ A woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter/ Think you I am no stronger than my sex/ Being so father’d, and so husbanded” (Shakespeare, II.i 294-298)? Portia is once again providing a window for the reader to see into the mindset of their time. Her words reflect that she is not accountable for her own worth and personality, only the men who sired or married her show her worth. Brutus, being one of these men, is being directly charmed, as well as possibly accused.