AWE (A Woman’s Experience)


Bailey Winget


Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, mothers in literature, Shakespeare


Throughout the short time frame of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lord and Lady Macbeth are childless. However, textual evidence suggests that the Macbeth’s did conceive a child who passed away prior to the opening acts of the play. At the end of act 1, Lady Macbeth tells her husband, “I have given suck,” clearly acknowledging her experience with motherhood and feeding a child (1.7.54). As suggested by Alice Fox, other references to death and childlessness occur throughout the text as the Macbeth’s use early modern language associated with gynecology and obstetrics to describe the events of the play (127). Because childlessness was such a prevalent issue in early modern England, “a Jacobean audience would have been alert to mere suggestions of a couple’s frustrated attempts to have living issue.” Fox’s article suggests that Shakespeare deliberately used language connected to midwifery to connect with his audience on the widely relatable and personal topic of child loss (128).