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Shakespeare/Macbeth and titus andronicus


How is the theme of gender role represented differently between the plays Macbeth and Titus Andronicus?
The idea I have in mind is that Lady Macbeth and Tamora both are the opposite examples of what a woman was supposed to e like in Shakespeare's time. The only thing i would need help with is to determine what motives their qualities of masculinity were used for.
Any help or examples would be greatly appreciated.

Hi, Bob,
Thanks for calling upon "Allexperts" for assistance in understanding the motivation in depicting women differently in two different Shakespearean plays.

Firstly I must state that I don't completely understand your question.  What MOTIVATES Shakespeare in developing such different female characters?  Is THAT your question?  If it is, then my answer is no more than common sense---in each play there is a NEED for such a female character to help to further develop OTHER characters in the plays.  Character in a literary work is developed in at least four major ways.  
1.  Through the character's actions -- what the character DOES.
2.  Through the character's dialog -- what the character SAYS.
3.  Through physical description -- how the character LOOKS.
4.  Through the reactions of OTHER characters -- what OTHER characters think of the main character.

One could argue about why Shakespeare has relatively FEW female lead characters in his plays. Perhaps it is simply explained by the realization that never in his lifetime did he have a female ACTOR to take on his female roles.  The only female actors in his time were those who entertained PRIVATE small audiences on lesser stages.  That is probably not the main reason that most of his most memorable characters were male.  Perhaps it was because of the perceived inequality of the sexes during his lifetime.  Although the ruling monarch most of Shakespeare's life was a woman, the male dominance in society was not in doubt.  Maybe the best reason that Shakespeare created such different women in the two plays you list in your question is simply that the male character in these plays required a woman's influence to bring out his TRUE nature --- to reveal the qualities that the audience would either love or hate about HIM.  

I realize that I have rambled considerably in attempting to make my point, but since we can only guess at Shakespeare's MOTIVATIONS for developing such diverse characters, I offer my rambling as an attempt to understand.  Although Shakespeare didn't say it --- "VARIETY is the spice of life."

Happy trails,



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Randy Sus


I`m a retired high school English teacher from central Wisconsin. I taught Shakespeare for years and am very familiar with his writing style, his themes, his sonnets, and most of his plays. I taught Julius Caesar, King Lear, Richard the Third, and A Midsummer Night`s Dream for years. I`ve memorized many of the lines from these plays and I know many sonnets by heart. I`d be glad to respond to questions regarding Shakespeare`s life, works, and times if anyone desired such information.


I have a master's degree in education and I take most pride in having ENJOYED teaching for over 30 years. Not everyone can honestly say that. I coached undefeated high school soccer teams for fun too. I like public relations work and have served on P.R. committees for most of my professional life. I continue to do so in retirement.

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