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Shakespeare's Violent Women: A Feminist Analysis Of Lady Macbeth


There are numerous examples in which the female characters in William Shakespeare’s plays go against the era’s gender norms and enact violence. I argue that Lady Macbeth is one of these violent women whose violence defies gender roles, but this violence also simultaneously upholds traditional patriarchal modes of power. Lady Macbeth uses violence that stems from her feminine excess to advance patrilineage and her position within Scotland. In trying to understand her violence, I make use of a feminist analysis of Lady Macbeth by Cristina León Alfar and historical interpretations of the gender norms of the era. Lady Macbeth’s violence elucidates the dilemma of the prominence of Shakespeare’s female characters. While she has a significant role in the actions of the play, she still maintains hierarchical systems of power that are predicated on women’s subjection.

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