How Shakespeare Presents Women in Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing

Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing are two of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. In this essay, I will explore the way in which Shakespeare presents the women in these two plays.

  In Shakespeare’s time, it was usual for authors to write plays which would please the Monarchs of that period. This is apparent in both plays, particularly Much Ado About Nothing, as there are distinct similarities between the character Beatrice and Queen Elizabeth, who ruled at the time. She was a strong willed, opinionated woman who never married, which coincides with Beatrice’s character, as she also swears that she will never marry and is a witty, headstrong woman; very much ahead of her time.
  Macbeth was also clearly written with England’s ruler in mind, this time King James the 1st, due to its’ strong links with Scotland, Witchcraft and the succession of the throne. James was the first king to rule both England and Scotland, so setting the play in his home country would have surely appealed to him. He also had a great interest in the supernatural, particularly witchcraft, and had even written a book; Demonology, on the subject. As was the case with most monarchs of that age, he believed in the divine right of kings, so the concept of a man who became king without being appointed by God getting his comeuppance for his treasonous deeds would have been a very relevant one.
  Throughout Shakespeare’s life, society was obsessed with witchcraft and occult practices, which resulted in the torture and execution of hundreds of innocent people (nearly all of them women). Many women were put on trial for committing acts of regicide using spells and curses, and Shakespeare used this fear of witches’ power in Macbeth to make it appeal more to the general public. He incorporated many features of witchcraft into the play; Lady Macbeth invites spirits to enter her body in Act 1 Scene 5, to give her enough cruelty to commit the deed, saying “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts,...