How are women portrayed in Macbeth?

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In Macbeth, the women tend to be as ruthless as the men, with Lady Macbeth being the best example. Lady Macbeth is the one to convince Macbeth to assassinate Duncan, more so than the three witches. She questions his manhood and even claims she is more committed to following their ambitions than he is. Lady Macbeth also tries to sever herself from her femininity, claiming she would kill her own baby while it was breastfeeding if it would further her power and invoking unholy spirits to "unsex" her so she will lack feminine compassion. The three witches are also presented as masculine in traits, down to their physical appearances (Banquo notes they sport beards).

The only other female character in the play is Lady Macduff, who is killed by Macbeth's assassins after he becomes king. She is not evil as Lady Macbeth or the witches are, yet she is just...

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Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on December 19, 2019