Shakespeare’s female characters in Macbeth and Hamlet have very different qualities. According to essay written by Jeanne Roberts, Gertrude in Hamlet is uncertain about men and life in general, but is also dependent upon men (Roberts 377). Lady Macbeth from Macbeth however is a very driven and powerful person who exercises her wills through Macbeth. In order for female character to survive politically and socially, they must operate from the edge or periphery of their world.
From the opening scene, we begin to see the role that women play in Macbeth. The three ugly witches agree to meet with Macbeth in order to plant the seed of ambition in his head. After Macbeth discovers the witches’ first prediction came true, he begins to aspire to realize the next prediction of becoming king. Already, because of women, Macbeth begins to entertain the idea of such power. Furthermore, when Lady Macbeth hears about the witches’ prophecies she likes the idea of becoming queen and encourages Macbeth to kill Duncan. In contrast, Gertrude is an optimistic woman who tries to please everyone around her, including her husband
As the play continues, in her soliloquy in line 39 of Act 1 scene 5, she asks to be “unsexed.” This suggests her desire to climb the social ladder by shedding herself of femaleness. She also tells Macbeth to plot against Duncan like a “serpent,” but remain like “the innocent flower,” which would make Macbeth king. This differs greatly from the submissive roles played by Gertrude in Hamlet, who is more dependent upon men.
As the two of them plot against the king, Macbeth reveals his hesitance for killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth responds to Macbeth’s fickle mind by calling him a “coward” if he does not perform the act. Then she questions Macbeth’s manhood by saying “I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more is none” (I, vii, 46-47), which leaves Macbeth with only one choice, not because he absolutely has to, but because a “woman” is...