Frailty, Is Thy Name Lady Macbeth?

Literary critic Frances E. Dolan states, "No critic has suggested that the play [Macbeth] might more properly be called, The Macbeths, thereby asserting that Lady Macbeth's role in Macbeth is not given adequate recognition1. Professor A.C. Bradley even points out that "Lady Macbeth is the only one of Shakespeare's great tragic characters who on a last appearance is denied the dignity of verse"2. Lady Macbeth is often narrowly presented as the embodiment of feminine sexuality gone awry, a clear indicator of the misogynistic lens with which she is frequently viewed. However, a more in-depth analysis of this integral character gives insight into her truly multi-faceted personality, one that cannot be typecast so readily as Macbeth's object of sexual desire or his impotent corruptor. A thorough examination of Lady Macbeth leads one to gain further perspective into the cultural context during which this play is set. Ultimately, we gain insight into the violent world at this time where Lady Macbeth is actually only adhering to her prescribed role, and not transcending gender norms.

Since Macbeth is a play to be performed, the depiction of Lady Macbeth is largely dependent on the way that Lady Macbeth is enacted. Sinead Cusack, an...

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