Consider how Shakespeare depicts women in Richard III and in Macbeth. Do the women tend to be virtuous, evil, or morally complex? 

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The women in William Shakespeare's play run the gamut from puere evil to pure good to moral complexity.

In Macbeth, the weird sisters are purely evil, with a hint of the supernatural or diaboliocal to them. Lady Macbeth is normally regarded as an evil character, although one could argue from a point of view of feminist critique, that her actions are those of a strong woman driven to morally questionable actions because of (1) a marriage to a morally weak character and (2) lack of scope for exercise for her natural abilities in any good way.

In Richard III, the women are more morally complex. Anne has very little scope for independent action, and although not strong enough to be good, is more pitiable than evil. Queen Elizabeth is morally ambiguous; she attempts to resist Richard, but it is uncertain whether this is an issue of ethics or personal advantage. The Duchess of York is a morally good character who consistently judges Richard wicked and opposes him, to a degree on moral grounds. Queen Margaret is on the side of the good people in the play, but uses means (cursing) which are morally ambiguous.

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