Essay about Lady Macbeth and the Jacobean Society

Essay about Lady Macbeth and the Jacobean Society

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Lady Macbeth’s atypical and complex character directly challenged the archetypal principles and beliefs of the Jacobean era which as a result, drew major fascination through the ages. Lady Macbeth was Shakespeare’s device to not only stimulate audience’s emotions, but to also provide historical context and elicit dominant themes which reflected Jacobean society. Her ambiguous character and remarkable influences in the play raised a lot of controversy and fascination amongst both modern and Jacobean audiences. She can either be seen as linked to the witches in a feminist bid to overthrow the balance of power, or as a representation of the evil side of Macbeth. Nevertheless, it was her distinct characteristics and actions which ultimately catalysed the chain of conflicts of the play. Again, this reinforces her important role in the play.
Ambitious
Lady Macbeth was “choked with ambition”. Her infatuation to be queen is the single feature that Shakespeare developed far beyond that of her counterpart in the historical story he used as his source. Lady Macbeth persistently taunts her husband for his lack of courage, even though we know of his bloody deeds on the battlefield. At this point in time, with all her will converging towards seizing the throne, she has shown no signs of remorse or hesitance in her actions and hence preventing the events in the narrative from digressing away from imperative themes and climaxes of the play.
Ambiguity
While she elicits her evil character in the mere shadows of the play, in public, she is able to act as Duncan “honoured hostess”, enticing her victim, into her castle. When she faints immediately after the murder of Duncan, the audience is left wondering whether this, too, is part of her act. This c...


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...n more so to Jacobean audiences.
Historical Context
Lady Macbeth was able to fascinate me by depicting female subordination in a patriarchal society. To me she was an advocate for provoking authority for her gender but succeeded through immoral means. Being able to intimately understand her feelings and ambitions from the play, she made me realise that women at the time, could be as ambitious and cruel as men, yet social constraints deny them the means to pursue these ambitions on their own because of their gender.

Lady Macbeth’s complexity and atypical characteristics directly challenged the normality of Jacobean society and engaged and fascinated audiences with great effect. The reality that a such a subordinate being of patriarchal society was able to catalyse and influence an patriarchal play definitely claimed Lady Macbeth a renowned reputation and respect.

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