by Rebecca Gove, M.A.T.
Shakespeare places a special emphasis on women in his plays, bringing the notion of the unusual, intriguing woman into the very heart of his corpus by employing strong, independent women as some of the most intriguing of all his characters. In particular, the tragedy Macbeth and the comedy Much Ado About Nothing allow his audience to explore a type of woman whom they would have never before envisioned; that is, the sharp, clever woman who desires the traits, feelings, and characteristics of men. This type of metaphorical role-reversal demonstrates a powerful reaction to male-dominated society and allows these two women, Lady Macbeth and Beatrice, to reject the passivity that is expected of them in order to take back some semblance of control over their own destinies. By examining how and why these women want to be men, it is possible to gain important insight into the roles of women in Shakespeare as well how Shakespeare uses women as instigators to further the action of his dramas. Continue Reading