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History: “A Woman’s Story at a winter’s Fire”:

  • Date Submitted: 04/12/2013 04:43 PM
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“A Woman’s Story at a winter’s Fire”: Gender Performativity and the Intrinsic Power of the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Whitney Sperrazza
May 2009
Undergraduate Thesis

I owe my deepest gratitude to...

...Dr. Ineke Murakami,
for her wealth of knowledge and
unwavering ability to keep me on track.

...Dr. Helene Scheck,
for her constant guidance and The Craft of Research.

...jil hanifan,
for teaching me how to write.

...my honors program allies,
for seeing it through to the end.

...my family, especially my mom,
for her constant support and belief
in my endeavors.

Table of Contents

“I dare do all that may become a man...” 4

“A woman’s story at a winter’s fire...” 19

“Th’untimely emptying of the happy throne...” 32

Epigraph 49

Notes 50

Works Cited 55


“I dare do all that may become a man;
who dares do more is none” (1.7.46-47)[i]

Early modern scholars have made significant strides in understanding how gender was performed in early seventeenth century England, as well as how it was performed and constructed on the London stages during this time.   What now becomes necessary is an exploration of the connection between these gender constructions.   What amount of influence does the theater have on surrounding culture and to what extent is the theater a direct product of that culture?   Shakespeare is an obvious choice for an exploration of gender and theater because, as a playwright, he seemed drawn to plots in which the performance of gender, or gender ambiguity, was a central conflict.   He uses the model of theatrical women, who we know were played by boys or men, to explore these gender conflicts and experiment with new ways of performing femininity and masculinity.   His fascination with gender...


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