Unacceptable Female Roles in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Macbeth's Unacceptable Female Roles William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth scarcely deals women a fair hand; the drama contains only misfit women in the major roles. In fact, the witches are not fully women, with their beards and supernatural aspect. In this essay we will treat on Lady Macbeth, the greatest misfit of them all, in detail, and on other women only incidentally. A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy demonstrates Lady Macbeth's inflexibility of will which enables her to dominate her husband: Sharing, as we have seen, certain traits with her husband, she is at once clearly distinguished from him by an inflexibility of will, which appears to hold imagination, feeling, and conscience completely in check. [. . .] On the moment of Macbeth's rejoining her, after braving infinite dangers and winning infinite praise, without a syllable on these subjects or a word of affection, she goes straight to her purpose and permits him to speak of nothing else. She takes the superior position and assumes the direction of affairs - appears to assume it even more than she really can, that she may spur him on. (336-37) Lily B. Campbell in her volume of criticism, Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes: Slaves of Passion, discusses how strong-willed is Lady Macduff: Lady Macduff is distinctly of the opinion that her husband fled the land from fear, even without having done anything which should make him fear retribution. To Ross she says: His flight was madness. When our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors. As Ross argues that she cannot know whether it "was his wisdom or his fear", she very pertinently argues against the wisdom that will make a man fly from the place in which he leaves his wife and children, and she instances the courage of the wren that will make it fight the owl to protect its young ones in proof that Macduff's fear has made him unnatural in his actions.(230) In Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy, Northrop Frye shows that a lady is the actual driving force in the play: That Macbeth is being hurried into a premature act by his wife is a point unlikely to escape the most listless member of the audience, but Macbeth comes to regret the instant of fatal delay in murdering Macduff, and draws the moral that

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