Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Chad Thomas

Committee Member

Anna M. Foy

Committee Member

J. Taylor

Subject(s)

William Shakespeare--1564-1616--Dramatic production., William Shakespeare--1564-1616.--Macbeth., William Shakespeare--1564-1616--Characters., Gender identity., Androgyny (Psychology) in literature., Sex differences (Psychology) in literature., Sex role in literature.

Abstract

Critics and audiences alike have been guilty of reducing Lady Macbeth and Macbeth to the most basic form of their characters--evil. Because of their non-normative, complex gender roles, they are often misunderstood. Through the application of gender theory and performance theory, the anxieties within Macbeth surrounding and concerning gender can be explained as an issue of performance. With the understanding that gender is performative, I argue that the key to portraying the humanity within these characters is through performance of the text. In examining various stage and screen performances of Macbeth, I demonstrate that portraying these characters as realistic and human, the overall cathartic effect of the tragedy has greater value and opens up multivalent performance possibilities for the text.

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