|dc.description.abstract||Jenijoy La Belle argued that Lady Macbeth’s “unsex me here” speech expresses Lady
Macbeth’s desire to be made more masculine through amenorrhea. This amenorrhea
enables Duncan’s murder, but leaves her barren. La Belle’s essay is predicated on Lady
Macbeth’s female and initially fertile body, which is rendered barren by her actions in
the first act.
This paper considers alternative readings of Lady Macbeth’s femininity and amenorrhea
codified by two historical bodies: the male body of Shakespeare’s original actor
and the pregnant body of Sarah Siddons in 1785 and 1794. In the original performance,
the boy actor seeks an amenorrhea that, like his inability to bear children, already, and
always, exists. Siddons’ Lady Macbeth likewise requests an existing amenorrhea, but
one which is a symptom of a pregnancy, not barrenness. The original boy actor’s body
contains no potential for maternity; Siddons’ pregnant body, in contrast, is visibly fertile,
offering the possibility of dynastic continuance for Macbeth.
A barren Lady Macbeth denies the possibility of dynasty through amenorrhea; a
pregnant Lady Macbeth’s amenorrhea reinforces her fertility.||en_US