Macbeth And Jacobean Women Essay

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Introduction
According to Froehlich (2011), 'social roles for men and women are often perceived to be pre-determined in the Early Modern period' (p.37). Elizabethan and Jacobean England was governed by a strict social order, and gender roles are one of the most notorious examples. Women in particular were imaged as predisposed to vices, sensitive and orderly. These ideas are explored in two dark tragedies, The Tragedy of Macbeth (1623) by William Shakespeare, and The Tragedy of the Duchess of Malfy (1623) by John Webster. On the one hand, these plays depict women who are subjected to male powers, and their characters are governed by masculine ideas of womanly behaviour. On the other hand, female protagonists are able to be active agents, and
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This text is going to discuss the characters of the duchess of Malfi and Lady Macbeth, and address the position of these women within the plays, as well as in a wider socio-cultural context of the …show more content…
As Kemp (2010) argues, the Renaissance was 'an extremely hierarchical society' (p.29), and symbols of male rule pervaded private as well as public lives. In this sense, the text attempted to investigate the case of female Renaissance dramatic characters in light of their socio-cultural surroundings. On the one hand, the Duchess of Malfi and Lady Macbeth appear as marginalised and disadvantaged women. Their worlds are embedded in patriarchal order, and these conditions naturally determine how the females are viewed. However, these characters display great powers and a level of freedom, thus becoming central figures within the plays. They assume strong identities, and subvert male powers, most notably by putting their interiority on display. Therefore, Webster and Shakespeare create female tragic characters, set in unfavourable conditions of social inequality. Yet, they are able to break free of established norms, and to show power and authority through distinctly feminine means, building a picture of femininity still attractive

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