How Lady Macbeth And Gertrude Change. Methody Essay

976 words - 4 pages

Discuss how the characters Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Gertrude in Hardy’s The Withered Arm change during the course of the texts. Explore the similarities and differences between the characters and explain the changes in relation to the contexts.
In both the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare and the short story “The Withered Arm” by Thomas Hardy change is a reoccurring theme. Both the main female characters Lady Macbeth and Gertrude Lodge go through a sequence of changes over the course of each text which can be linked to the contexts in which the texts were written in as in both the Jacobean era and the Victorian era women lived in a patriarchal society and were below men hieratically and the idea of the perfect woman and the requirements that are associated with that play a large part in the characterisation of both Gertrude and Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is an over-ambitious and immoral character however as a woman in the Jacobean period her ambition was essentially useless because women were powerless and lived a life that was sub-ordinate to men. Her ambition is only valuable when Macbeth puts power behind it and once he does this she subsequently has a mental breakdown and kills herself. Her character was a type of warning to the Jacobean female audience to reinforce the consequences of a woman stepping out of line in society. Gertrude Lodge also changes however she goes from being the ideal and perfect beautiful obedient Victorian wife to being a disobedient and disfigured and although the changes she goes through are different, the outcome is the same as she dies as a result of her disobedience similarly to Lady Macbeth, her death was likely a warning against woman stepping out of line. I will explore the similarities and differences between the characters and how they both change throughout the play.
Both Lady Macbeth and Gertrude have a clear understanding of their expected place in society, and how they are expected to behave. In Act 1 scene 5 Lady Macbeth shows her awareness of her role as a female in society when she says “Shake my fell purpose” and continues to express her dislike of how she is expected to act by saying “Unsex me here” implying that her gender is holding her back from something positive. From the very beginning of the play she is displaying a dislike against her role in the patriarchy and showing no sign of living up to how she is supposed to act as a woman. She further shows her more masculine and unwomanly side in the same scene as she encourages Macbeth by saying, “Thou wouldst be great, / Art not without ambition.” She continues to erode her obedience to the ideal Jacobean woman as she takes a very feminine and motherly act of breast feeding and turns it into an appeal to the supernatural as she says “Come to my woman's...

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