How do the female characters in Macbeth show qualities of strength and power?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There are multiple female characters in William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth. The main female characters in the play are Lady Macbeth, Lady Mcduff, Hecate, and the Three Witches.

Lady Macbeth shows that she possesses qualities of both strength and power when she convinces Macbeth to murder Duncan the night he arrives at Inverness. Macbeth wishes to let his new title, Thane of Cawdor, settle in a bit before taking the title of king. Lady Macbeth is not satisfied with this. Instead, she goads him and questions his manhood. It is through her power and strength which she convinces Macbeth to murder Duncan that night.

LADY MACBETH: Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,”
Like the poor cat i’ the adage?

Lady Mcduff is another strong and powerful female character. When she and Ross are having a conversation about her husband running to England, she denounces his fear. When speaking with her son, Lady Mcduff speaks harshly of his father and proclaims him dead. When her son begins to belittle her, she remains strong.

SON Nay, how will you do for a husband?
LADY MACDUFF Why, I can buy me twenty at any
market.

Hecate and the Three Witches show great power and strength, but their strength and power is very different. They do not hold true power on their own (if one disregards their magical abilities). The power and strength which they possess is given to them by Macbeth. Without Macbeth's trust in their prophecies, they would hold no true power of the action of the play. The power and strength, given to them by Macbeth, is seen in his return to them to gain more knowledge of the future.

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