exercises due: calendar week 8 (Friday)
On we go. Learn up to "take a leading role"!
B: Background on Lady Macbeth
There aren't many "strong" and independent female characters in Shakespeare's plays. And eventhough Queen Elizabeth had ruled the country for decades, that of course is a mirror of the gener roles in those times. "Lady Macbeth [however] is one of Shakespeare’s most infamous female characters. Cunning and ambitious, she is one of the protagonists of the play, encouraging and helping Macbeth carry out his bloody quest to become king. Without Lady Macbeth, Macbeth might never venture down the murderous path that leads to their mutual downfall.
In many respects, Lady Macbeth is more ambitious and power-hungry than her husband, going so far as to call his manhood into question when he has second thoughts about committing murder.
Along with being Shakespeare's bloodiest play, "Macbeth" is also the one with the greatest number of outright evil female characters. Chief among them are the three witches who predict that Macbeth will be king and set the play's action into motion.
Then, there's Lady Macbeth herself. It was unusual in Shakespeare's day for a female character to be so boldly ambitious and manipulative as Lady Macbeth is. She's unable to take action herself, likely because of social constraints and power hierarchies, so she must persuade her husband to go along with her evil plans.
When Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to kill King Duncan by questioning his manhood, Shakespeare equates masculinity with ambition and power. However, those are two qualities that Lady Macbeth possesses in abundance. By constructing her character in this way (with "masculine" characteristics), Shakespeare challenges our preconceived views of masculinity and femininity.
Lady Macbeth’s sense of remorse soon overwhelms her, however. She has nightmares, and in one famous scene (Act Five, Scene One), she tries to wash her hands of the blood she imagines has been left behind by the murders.
By the end of Lady Macbeth's life, guilt has replaced her incredible ambition in equal measure. We are led to believe that her guilt ultimately leads to her suicide.
Lady Macbeth is, therefore, a victim of her own ambition, which complicates her role in the play. She both defies and defines what it means to be a female villain, particularly in Shakespeare's time."
How to approach such a character as an actress can be seen in the video below. Every actor interpretes his and her role and thus such a view can give us valuable insight.