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Feminism in Macbeth and Antigone

            "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." These words spoken by Gloria Steinem, leader for the feminist movement in the late 1960s, shatter the traditional patriarchal perceptions that our society is based upon. Throughout the history of humanity, men have taken precedence over women, acting as the head of the family, the hero in battle, and the leader of nations. Consequently, women have been diminished to the role of housekeeping, taking care of the kids, and preparing meals for the family. In any case, there is a clear distinction of the difference in power between the two sexes-one gender always dominates over the other. Power, in terms of the Feminist Theory, must be the domination of one gender over the other in a superior manner, will, and authority. Though conventional patriarchal beliefs seem to perpetuate the dominance of men and subordination of women, Shakespeare and Sophocles seem to question the validity of those beliefs in their plays, Macbeth and Antigone, with their radically heterodox female characters-they neither conform with the loving tenderness nor the acquiescence and tendency to submit to authority commonly associated with women.
             Both Shakespeare and Sophocles clearly attack the conventional patriarchal biases that women are associated with tenderness and love. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth serves as a complete counterexample against those biases. This is most prevalent in the scene right when she hears of the three witches' prophecies of Macbeth becoming king. "Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty." (Macbeth, I, v, 47-50) Immediately, Lady Macbeth begins to stand out of the "feminist norms". After hearing of her husband becoming king, she does not stand up to cheer and rejoice in a "womanly fashion" nor feel any sense of tenderness of love for Macbeth.

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