The passage in Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, where Lady Macbeth, the wife of the main protagonist, is fantasizing about motherhood and infanticide, can be interpreted differently. In traditional interpretations, most of the scholars ascribe her expressions about the topic, to the main “unsex me here”-theme. Because this is the quote, which is the best proof to show how Lady Macbeth tries to mobilize her masculine powers to support the political goal of her husband. But these expressions are more than that. Stephanie Chamberlain, who is a associate professor for English at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau argues in her work “Fantasizing Infanticide: Lady Macbeth and the Murdering Mother in Early Modern England” ,which was published in 2002, that there can be seen a lot more in Lady Macbeth’s utterances. According to her, the lines including Lady Macbeth’s act one fantasy about motherhood and infanticide express the power mothers have in general, on the one hand because of their ability to break the patrilineal and through that have more political influence than they should have by this act, on the other hand because of their influence on their child in education and the connected communication of values. The following essay will figure out the main themes and thesis of Chamberlain, will give arguments to support it, and tries to give background information and explanations why this discussion nowadays loses importance.
For the beginning, let’s have a look on William Shakespeare’s drama itself. Macbeth was written around the year 1606 and although it is a fiction drama, there are historical facts about the historic King Macbeth and the, at this time in England and Scotland actual present, King Jacob I. included. The plot is about the army commander Macbeth who rises to the King of Scotland by a complot, later changes to a tyrant and finally his fall.
After winning the final battle of King Duncan’s troops against the troops of the Norwegian King Sweno who were supported by the rebelling former Thane of Cawdor, Banquo and Macbeth, the two commanders of the troops, were called back home. The King ordered them to his castle and wants to thank them and make Macbeth, former Thane of Glemis, to the new Thane of Cawdor. On the way back home from the battlefield, the two meet three witches who prophesy them that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland and that Banquo will be the father or father’s father of future kings. After the first prophecy fulfils, Macbeth starts to ponder. He tells his wife who is completely gripped by ambition and excited about the idea of Macbeth becoming king. So under her pressure they plan the murder of the King, which leads to the statement by Lady Macbeth about the
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- Timo Dersch (Autor), 2010, Stephanie Chamberlain’s work on Lady Macbeth and the connected gender issue, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/155030