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Role of Women in Macbeth


«LS2»The purpose of this research is to examine the role of women in Macbeth. The plan of the research will be to set forth the context of social history in which issues surrounding the characterization and action of women in the play can be addressed, and then to discuss the functioning and importance of the major and minor women's parts in that play, as well as in other of Shakespeare's works, from a feminist perspective, with a view toward showing how the modern feminist critical approach appears to differ from that of traditional dramatic criticism.

In order to appreciate the positioning and dramatic functioning of the women characters in Macbeth, it may be useful to explore the position and function of women in the society that was in the background of the play when it was written in 1606. Women in Renaissance England, particularly during the Elizabethan period, must be considered in light of the social structure of the time on one hand and in light of the extraordinary figure of Elizabeth I on the other. Kegl sees evidence of a certain peculiarity or contradiction in the social position of Elizabethan women, owing to what she terms Elizabeth's claims for a paradoxical double existence, together with the fact that Elizabethan society developed in the context of a tightly structured monarchy. Citing Elizabethan courtly literature, in particular George Puttenham's The Arte of English Poesie, Kegl argues that efforts to standardize and make claims of poetic elegance for the English language had an indirect effect of standardizing English society more generally (185-6). Puttenham's apologia for English emerged in a social dynamic of struggle for influence within the circle of Elizabeth's court, a struggle that, according to Kegl, was mirrored outside the court in struggles among classes and between the sexes. Curiously, despite the liveliness of court life, the...

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Role of Women in Macbeth. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:40, March 22, 2019, from