Two Queens from Shakespeare's Works
Lady Macbeth and Gertrude are two queens from two great Shakespare’s works: Macbeth and Hamlet. Both of them are very interesting characters for the analysis. They both are queens in the plays; they both have special desires and ambitions which they try to realize.
The author uses these characters to highlight some particular issues in the plays. However, they are totally different which means that the methods and reasons for gaining desired things have very little in common.
On the one side, we can see Lady Macbeth who is charming and attractive; nevertheless, she is absolutely devoted to her husband, though not because of love and respect towards him. She is more devoted to his career rather than to him as a personality. It is even better to say that she is murderously devoted to her husband’s career. On the other side, we can find Gertrude, the mother of protagonist and the Queen of Denmark. She is a weak woman who is dependent from men; that is why she has married King Claudius. This deed makes her look dishonest, deceitful and disloyal to Hamlet’s father’s memory. Shakespeare shows this through the attitude of the son to his mother when they speak eye to eye. Such a speech happens in Act III when Hamlet accuses Gertrude of the fact that her vows about marriage are as false as dicers’ oaths (Hamlet, III.IV.86). His attitude displays the feeling of disgust to his mother. Nonetheless, Shakespeare uses this character to show femininity. Gertrude is a mother and she cares about her son even knowing about his negative attitude. Even when the son tells her very unpleasant things, she still calls him ‘sweet Hamlet’ (Hamlet, III.IV.87).
The main similarity between Gertrude and Lady Macbeth is the fact that both women are motivated by their ambitions. Gertrude marries Claudius as she wants to save her title of a Queen because she cannot function without protection. She understands that this decision is too hasty and the marriage is overhasty (Hamlet, II.II.42). Gertrude treats people kindly; she always shows respect and never dominates. The fact that she is weak is shown in the play through a ghost who describes her as a fighting soul and weakest body (Hamlet, III.IV.114-115).
On the other side, the difference is that Lady Macbeth has very strong ambitions to power as such. Lady Macbeth persuades her husband to commit a murder as she desires to be a new queen of Scotland. She actually pushes him to murder as she believes that when he has enough courage to kill, he will be a real man (Macbeth, I.VII.29). Her ambitions go beyond allowed and she has a great ability to manipulate. Despite the fact that most women in Shakespeare’s plays are weak and dependant, she is very strong, she has evil nature and she plays the role of a negative character. She shows no respect to her husband. It is also depicted in her words about his nature which she believes is too kind (Macbeth, I.V.22). All human kindness or human sympathy only stands on her way to power and aim to become a queen of Scotland. She is very much different from Gertrude, because Lady Macbeth shows no vulnerability or moral ambiguity in her nature. She is the one who controls everything. A tremendous amount of actions were taken from her side to achieve her ambitions. She possesses very masculine nature. She is not afraid of becoming cruel. She actually wishes to be cruel and she asks spirits to fill her entire body and soul with extreme cruelty (Macbeth, I.V.23). Lady Macbeth controls her husband using the tactics of constant doubting of his masculinity and his courage. This attitude is shown in the Act III when in the fourth scene she asks him whether he is a man (Macbeth, III.IV.69).
In the process of compare and contrast of Lady Macbeth and Gertrude, it has become obvious that one of the things which these two women share is the sense of ambition. However, Gertrude is the woman who usually sits back and feels comfortable being secured by the man, while lady Macbeth is eager to control everything and do all possible to achieve her desires. Despite the fact that both women commit sinful acts, Lady Macbeth is depicted as an evil person that is full of cruelty and she starts to show guilt and vulnerability only after becoming mad. That is why at the end of the play, the characters of both women become more alike as they share the sense of regret for the wrongdoings against those people who loved them.
However, they did not reach the desired things, Gertrude is protected but she is not loved, Lady Macbeth has killed people for the sake of reaching her goal but she has lost her mind and does not need the desired power anymore. Shakespeare shows that women are weak and their wish for power is only the desire to be protected. He also shows that everyone is punished according to his/her sins.
These two characters do not affect the play very much; they are often used as a background to develop the main plot and to show the results of various actions. All women characters are relatively passive in comparison to men and they are used to disclose the nature of the men depicted in the plays.