Lady Macbeth & Anne Boleyn & Hurrem Sultan: Strong Women from Medieval Era, But Different Stories…Or Are They?

​Okay, so in today’s 205 course class, our teacher discussed with us about the main characters of Macbeth and I especially was enlightened about how deeply they were portrayed. Among all the characters, I related mostly with Lady Macbeth. I mean, I think we all (girls) did. She was vicious, ambitious, rude, harsh, mean and blah blah blah on goes the list of her negative traits. 

Then comes how she falls into depression and guilt and paranoia and eventually suicidal tendency. One thing ma’am said was how shocked the Elizabethan people were by Lady Macbeth’s portrayal. I mean, aren’t women supposed to be “soft as petal, submissive as pets and beautiful as full moon” (?). But Lady Macbeth wasn’t. She wasn’t soft, definitely not submissive and I don’t know if she was beautiful or not (though the most recent onscreen Lady Macbeth, Marion Cotillard is very pretty). But if you go past that, she was the best character among the others in Macbeth. 

Now, I’m not here to discuss about Lady Macbeth. I mean, not didactically anyway. After the class I totally forgot about Lady Macbeth until just a few hours ago when I stumbled upon The Tudors TV series on the internet and how Anne Boleyn was portrayed on the show. Come to think of it, she was the most emphasized queen of Henry VIII by the creators of the show. Now I read about Anne Boleyn’s portrayal by Natalie Dormer on Wiki and found interesting stuff about her. And while reading about her, I realized that Anne Boleyn was the real life Lady Macbeth meets King Duncan. How?

Lady Macbeth was ambitious, right? So was Anne Boleyn. Though her ambition was fanned by her father Thomas Boleyn and brother George Boleyn. Okay, so this part was tad similar to Lady Macbeth instigating Macbeth. But Anne Boleyn had more similarities with Lady Macbeth than Macbeth. 

Firstly because Lady Macbeth was ambitious. She went blind while trying to fulfill her ambition. And in the way, she just blatantly forgot about everything else. 

So did Anne Boleyn. She, with her brazenness, boldness and sharp tongue, made enemies while climbing her way to the top. In the show, she was bold enough to retort back to Catherine, Queen of Aragon, whose lady in waiting she used to be. Later, before her execution, Anne found no one by her side, not even her father. 

Secondly, Lady Macbeth, after becoming the queen, became paranoid, delusional, hysterical and eventually suicidal. So did Anne Boleyn. She suspected Henry of adultery (of course, she did and she was right). And not only that, she was scared of being assassinated by the Catholic fanatics because of instigating Henry to remove Catholicism and establish Anglicanism. She then went ahead and gave birth to Elizabeth I and then had two miscarriages. And Henry found Jane Seymour, his future third wife. 

Sure thing, like Lady Macbeth, Anne met her downfall. 

But was she truly deserving of that? Who knows? But what I did realize was she was also like King Duncan from Macbeth. See, King Duncan blindly trusted his life to Macbeth and paid the price. Like him, Anne blindly loved Henry, thinking her love for him will be enough to keep him faithful. But, black does not take any other hue. For Henry VIII, love wasn’t enough. Sure thing, she lost Henry, then her head. 

Now, reading about Anne also reminded me of Hurrem Sultan from the famous Turkish TV period drama, Magnificent Century. In a lot of way, Anne Boleyn is like Hurrem Sultan (I’m talking about the TV versions of them). They both rise from almost nothing to everything. And though Hurrem didn’t fall like Anne (because Suleiman, though a womanizer like Henry, wasn’t trying to be the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland and going “Off with her head!” mode), they both made enemies, they both loved their husbands blindly and to achieve the status as their wives, risked everything. In the end, King Duncan died, Anne Boleyn was beheaded and Hurrem romantically “breathed her last in the arms of Suleiman”. 

Bottom line, never feel blind emotion towards anyone as far as to risk your own damn life. People have a Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland inside them. 


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