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Women are often portrayed as individuals who are weak and shackled by societal expectations in literature. William Shakespeare’s works frequently utilized the convention of women who were unable weak in areas of social and political power. Shakespeare’s Hamletand Macbeth both portray women, Gertrude and Lady Macbeth, who perform acts that are evil to obtain power. However, they both succumb to the perceived weaknesses of their genderand lose their power and lives. Examining Gertrude and Lady Macbeth from the perspective of a social commentary on women ultimately demonstrates that Shakespeare’s contemporary society viewed women as being deceitful, incapable of holding true power, and willing to bring about the downfall of great men to serve their own purposes.

The first supporting point that is necessary to examine for this thesis is the fact that women are portrayed as deceitful. In Hamlet, Gertrude is a woman who decides to marry her dead husband’s brother simply so that she is able to remain as queen. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth presses her husband into committing horrific murders so that her husband would ascend to the throne of Scotland and so she could serve as queen. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

The second major point is in regards to their incapability in holding power. Gertrude is a woman who wields great power as queen, but the text shows her squandering this power by knowingly allowing her husband to continue to rule over her despite finding out he is a murderer. This topic appears in Macbeth where Lady Macbeth is presented as a woman who wants to be stripped of her femininity to commit and cover up murders. However, she is unable to handle these responsibilities and allows her power to be destroyed by the fact that she is a female who is unfit to rule. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

The final major point is that both women are willing to bring about the downfall of righteous men in order to propel their own success. This is used to show the social commentary that women are unfit and deceitful in their machinations to obtain power. In Macbeth, the play presents Lady Macbeth who is willing to help murder to rightful King of Scotland, Duncan, so that she can succeed in his power. This will be compared with Gertrude willingly sending her son away to exile and death even though he is a better potential ruler than her husband.

This potential examination of Hamlet and Macbeth is very relevant to the course and the objectives outlined for this paper due to the fact that they both present women in the roles of queens, very powerful individuals. The social commentary for these two works is significant because both women gain power at the expense of another and then lose their power because they are portrayed as being unfit to hold the power due to their frailty. Lady Macbeth loses her mind after encouraging and committing violent acts while Gertrude ends up dying at the hands of her villainous husband whom she has defended throughout the play. Overall, examining these two works will provide a standpoint from which to view the social constraints placed upon women in two famous works.


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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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