Date

5-5-2020

Description

Scholarship on Lady Macbeth's criminality frames her both as an altruistic offender whose deviance serves her husband and as a masculine anomaly whose deviance discards her femininity. Conforming to her womanhood as a principle in the second degree but rejecting it as a masculine anomaly, Lady Macbeth is confined to an identity that is neither domestic nor deviant, neither effeminate nor masculine. Despite her resulting state of liminality, Lady Macbeth is punished for her deviance with an offstage supposed suicide that demands no attention from the playwright whose focus is rather on her equally criminal and unequally glorified husband. The penalties for female criminality in Shakespearean plays are redundant in their unseen, suicidal, and humiliating nature, always overshadowed by the narrative of male violence. Lady Macbeth, with her conspiratorial manipulation, Goneril and Regan, with their vicious patricide, and Queen Tamora, with her merciless vengeance are parallel in their embrace of criminality and in the retribution they receive in exchange. Through an analysis of their crimes and resulting punishments, I find that their criminality is not an indication of their domesticity nor a disposal of their femininities, but a weaponization of their identities as principles in the second degree as they seek means to power. The disproportionate punishment they receive in exchange is therefore a condemnation of their deviance from domesticity. In recognizing the legitimacy of female criminological agency, we can acknowledge the rhetoric of empowerment that frees her from literary liminality that otherwise renders her criminal punishments rhetorically unseen.

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May 5th, 12:00 AM

"Unsex me here": Feminizing Crime in Macbeth, King Lear, and Titus Andronicus

Scholarship on Lady Macbeth's criminality frames her both as an altruistic offender whose deviance serves her husband and as a masculine anomaly whose deviance discards her femininity. Conforming to her womanhood as a principle in the second degree but rejecting it as a masculine anomaly, Lady Macbeth is confined to an identity that is neither domestic nor deviant, neither effeminate nor masculine. Despite her resulting state of liminality, Lady Macbeth is punished for her deviance with an offstage supposed suicide that demands no attention from the playwright whose focus is rather on her equally criminal and unequally glorified husband. The penalties for female criminality in Shakespearean plays are redundant in their unseen, suicidal, and humiliating nature, always overshadowed by the narrative of male violence. Lady Macbeth, with her conspiratorial manipulation, Goneril and Regan, with their vicious patricide, and Queen Tamora, with her merciless vengeance are parallel in their embrace of criminality and in the retribution they receive in exchange. Through an analysis of their crimes and resulting punishments, I find that their criminality is not an indication of their domesticity nor a disposal of their femininities, but a weaponization of their identities as principles in the second degree as they seek means to power. The disproportionate punishment they receive in exchange is therefore a condemnation of their deviance from domesticity. In recognizing the legitimacy of female criminological agency, we can acknowledge the rhetoric of empowerment that frees her from literary liminality that otherwise renders her criminal punishments rhetorically unseen.