Noble, Alexandra Helene (2007)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's greatest female roles but she sits uneasily within the patriarchal society of late eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain. In this thesis I explore the ways in which she was made fit for audiences through the interpretations of three leading actresses of the period; Sarah Siddons, Helen Faucit and Ellen Terry.
In particular in the first chapter, but throughout the thesis I discuss the textual history of the play and the ways in which the alterations changed the balance between Lady Macbeth and her husband. I consider the place of the actress in society and the effect this might have had upon her realization of a character, in particular Lady Macbeth.
I show through debates in parliament, articles in newspapers and journals and in the literature of the period, the prevailing patriarchal nature of society but also the challenges to it. From contemporary accounts and the words of Sarah Siddons, Helen Faucit and Ellen Terry, I reconstruct their performances within that society.
Theatre is part of its society: this thesis shows the interaction between the ideas of late eighteenth and nineteenth-century society and the realization of one of Shakespeare's major characters.
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