When James Brown sings that “this is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl” (Brown), this is true for both Lady Macbeth and Bianca. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew, Lady Macbeth and Bianca are both female characters who struggle for power in a man’s world, one rejects femininity and the other exploits it.
Lady Macbeth consciously attempts to reject her feminine sensibility and adopt a male mentality by calling upon murdering spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall (Macbeth 1.5.41-49),
only because she perceives that her society equates feminine qualities with weakness. In this quote Lady Macbeth gives a vivid image of being stripped of her femininity in order to achieve masculine qualities. She is asking for the spirits to take away her compassion and fear so no forces of goodness invade her conscience to stop her from proceeding to murder Duncan. Although she is very loyal, she rejects her subordinate role as wife to Macbeth. Lady Macbeth challenges her husband’s manhood by being more aggressive than he is, taunting him, and suggesting, “When you durst do it, then you were a man” (Macbeth 1.7.55). Where Lady Macbeth rejects femininity and openly taunts in her relationship with Macbeth, Bianca manipulates men in a whole different way.
Bianca is younger and praised daughter of Baptitsa Minola in The Taming of the Shrew. When reading, she is surrounded by doting dad, jealous sister, and suitors that are just begging for a piece of her. Only because she is
the ideal 16th-century woman, appearing to be chaste, obedient, and silent, qualities her sister Kate certainly does not possess. Lucentio notes the appeal of Bianca in comparison with Kate when he says “But in the other’s silence do I see/ Maid’s mild behavior and sobriety” (The Taming of the Shrew 1.1.71-72). Stating that in compare to her sister she is quiet and well behaved, just as she should be. But later on in the book it is revealed that she is just as deceptive, disobedient, and shrewish as she appeared sweet and silent in the beginning.