To a great extent, modern audiences would find the portrayal objectification of women very much ominous, especially in the case of Hero. Shakespeare’s depiction of the interactions between Claudio, her future husband and Leonato, her father prior to Hero’s public shaming conveys this. In act two scene one Leonato says to Claudio ‘take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes’ (2/1/280). Here the two men are discussing the giving of Hero as if she were an object to be traded and that his adult daughter is in no position to decide who she marries. Shakespeare presents the stranglehold that men have over women and furthers the notion that men view women as items to be controlled in Messina culture.
Lady Macbeth’s disposition brings to the fore many themes concerning gender, including; the definition of manhood and alternatively femininity, the role of women in the play highlighted through the characters of Lady Macbeth and the Witches, and the synonymy between masculinity and cruelty. Through key scenes in Macbeth, particularly Act 1, Scene 5 (Norton), Lady Macbeth’s gender is explored as she indicates that she must compensate for her husbands lack of masculine characteristics and thus propel him to commit Duncan’s murder. Similarly, the ambiguity of the Witches gender is reiterated through their very own being- a violation of how women were expected to behave. Act 1, Scene 5 introduces the audience to Lady Macbeth’s indifference to the feminine qualities not only of herself, but also those of which her husband possesses. Lady Macbeth decidedly usurps the dominant role because she feels her husband “is too full o’ the milk of human kindness” (i.v.16).
While Iago manipulates Desdemona’s reputation to cause the downfall of almost every primary character in Shakespeare’s Othello, Desdemona still exhibits power that defies her role as a female in a patriarchal society. Her reputation is subject both to Iago’s shrewd attacks and to her society’s structure; which unknowingly puts the men at risk while they think they are securing their own safety by confining these women. Desdemona is treated as a product exchanged by men and is smothered by Othello in his efforts to protect other men and keep her sexuality contained. Iago objectifies Desdemona as he manipulates Othello’s perspective of her until Othello literally deconstructs his wife, despite her innocence. Though she seems the stereotypical female, Desdemona breaks free of gender constraints as she defies her father and exhibits complete control over Othello at the beginning of the play.
When Macbeth is doubting the decision to kill King Duncan, and his wife, Lady Macbeth, responds by challenging his manhood saying, “When you durst do it, you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.” (Act 1. Scene 7. 55, 56, 57, 58) In this scene, Lady Macbeth is being very cruel and unforgiving in this act, acting more like the man society would expect Macbeth to be. In act 2, Macbeth is seen being very remorseful about his actions and decisions that led to him killing the king, generally playing the more feminine role, acting the way society would expect the female role to act. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is seen being very uncaring, nonchalant, and generally just very unconcerned with the situation and killing the king, the way society would expect the male role to play.
The Loss of Subjectivity: Lady Macbeth as Unconscious of Macbeth Among most female characters in Shakespeare’s works, Lady Macbeth, who has been attracting attention and debates for centuries is ambiguous in identity and subjectivity. Her fascination lies in the masks beneath which the evil and good counterparts with the other self restlessly seek to hide or show: she is the dedicated wife, sacrificing her womanliness to help realize her husband’s ambition; she is the “fiend-like queen” (V.viii.35), possessing the cruelty of a man, but is born as a woman. However, it is this mysterious woman that lacks the most fundamental component of her subjectivity, a name. As the only female protagonist in The Tragedy of Macbeth, she does not have a name of her own unlike Ophelia (Hamlet), or Portia (The Merchant of Venice), or Desdemona (Othello). She is the Lady Macbeth: she, lacking subjectivity, is not defined in her own right but a reflection of Macbeth’s mental status.
This shows her bold and powerful character. Macbeth may not have had as strong as intentions or as much courage if his wife was not more concerned about the death of the king than he was. Lady Macbeth is more to blame for the death of Duncan than her husband because of her longing for authority and power. Lady Macbeth is unsympathetic when it comes to the life of others. You see this in her character when she glosses over the murder of Duncan to Macbeth.
They are also similar because they are talking about a woman, but are different in how they approach this. In addition their wanted outcome is different. Both these men see women as objects, the Duke as an object he can control and look at, and the speaker as a sex object. "My Last Duchess is about a Duke, who is hoping to marry the Count's daughter, and is with his envoy talking about his ex-wife. "To His Coy Mistress, is about a man, who wants to sleep with a young woman, but is scared that he does not have a lot of time left.
Unlike his wife, the idea of killing the king in order to fulfill the prophecy has not crossed his mind yet. When Lady Macbeth reads the letter from her husband, she is immediately taken up by the ambition to become royalty. Because Macbeth sets less in store by the prophecy, his wife needs to force him to commit the act, which will crown him King. The third major difference between Macbeth and his wife is the way with which they treat their new life as King and Queen. Lady Macbeth seems to have adapted fairly well to the new life.
A scholar may read it that even though the man has given power to a woman it was given by a man who was feministic. King Lear soon chooses to banish his only loyal and loving daughter gives the power to his two eldest daughters. The eldest daughters are now powerful as well as being emotionless. This display of masculine characteristics by the two women also works to create multiply ways to read King Lear. Cordelia the best representation of “female”
Even though, women have become more independent, they still want to feel love of a man as it is a necessity. As the play proceeds, Blanche is not the only one to depend on men for attention, love interests and socio-economic progress. Her sister Stella is heavily restrained by her husband Stanley Kowalski. This dependence promotes the abuse of women both verbally and physically. When Stanley beats Stella and she forgives him because she has nowhere else to turn and has the fear of being alone.