William Shakespeare, famous playwright and author of Macbeth lived many centuries ago, in Elizabethan times. However, this does not mean that the themes and issues in his plays are not relevant in society today. Despite Macbeth being written for such a different audience so long ago, many of the issues, particularly gender roles and how they’ve changed and the consequence of bad choice, and themes, for example deception, depicted by Shakespeare are still relevant in today’s society, and give us insight into ourselves and humanity.
Macbeth was written in 1606, so by analysing the roles of the female characters in the play, we are able to gain insight into how the roles of women in society have changed over time.
The status of women in Elizabethan times is evident right from the character list. Of the forty characters in the play, only seven are women, and these seven characters are named at the bottom of the list. This shows that Elizabethan society was male oriented, and that women were not a huge influence on it.
Shakespeare uses Lady Macduff to portray the image of a typical Elizabethan woman. She plays the role of a stay at home mum, and is shown as overly emotional when Macduff leaves in Act 4 Scene 2, believing that it is because “He loves us (her and her son) not.” (Line 8) and that even “the poor wren will fight, her young ones in her nest, against the owl.” (Lines 9-11).
This stereotype of women as feeble and powerless chicks needing a man to protect them in their nest says a lot about a woman’s place in Elizabethan Britain, and contrasts greatly with what we see today. Although there are still stay at home mums, 69% of women are in the workforce, so they are no longer just child-bearers and home-makers. Additionally, Forbes Magazine ranks Angela Merkel, the current chancellor of Germany who happens to be female, 4th in its list of the world’s most powerful people. By comparing the roles of women in Macbeth to what we see today, we can gain a large...