The Power of the Feminine in Macbeth. This essay explores the roles of Lady Macbeth and the witches in the original play, the Kurosawa film entitled Throne of Blood, and the Polanski film version.

Essay by pely_erinUniversity, Bachelor's March 2003

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The Power of the Feminine in Macbeth

In the play and both film versions of Shakespeare's Macbeth, women are given a fairly large amount of agency or power. Interestingly enough, the women control not only their own destiny, but also that of our hero himself, Macbeth. Femininity, particularly that of the maternal, is a very widely used theme in the play and films. However it represents not only the nurture and support of a mother, but also a more terrifying aspect of womanhood- one of deceit, manipulation, and power.

The prominent female figures are the witches and Lady Macbeth. The three witches in the tragedy are introduced right at the beginning of the play and the brief opening scenes give an immediate impression of mystery, horror and uncertainty. The witches create an atmosphere of evil and disorder. Everything that the witches do implies otherworldly power and a sense of inescapable and enchanting evil.

However Banquo does not seem to be drawn into this spell. Banquo says in act 1 scene 3 line 124:

"The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray's in deepest consequence."

Banquo's idea of the witches is obviously one of mistrust and misgiving. He calls them instruments of darkness and the devil. He sees beyond the witches and can see that they are evil, whereas Macbeth is taken in by the witches. Their feminine spell has ensnared him. It is Macbeth's interest in the sisters that motivates him to listen to and speak with them. Had Macbeth followed his friend's advice and left the witches before they spoke, the tragedy may have never occurred. Later on in the play after he has let their prophecy determine his actions, he again seeks them out and asks them to speak into...