In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I have decided to put together a short post that talks about all of the mothers in Shakespearian Plays.
Shakespeare was not kind to mothers in his cannon of 37 plays. Or 40. Or 39. 37 is the agreed number, but there’s always some dispute. He could have written more, but they were lost to time because they weren’t very good. But then, Titus Andronicus still exists, so it’s hard to figure out what didn’t make the cut.
Anyway, most of the time things did not fare well for mothers in Shakespearian plays. They ended up dead, like in Hamlet, or with minor roles like in many of his histories. Often times they’re not mentioned at all, even in plays where you think some of them would be mentioned, like in King Lear which is about a father and his daughters.... Ah, I’ve got one: Romeo and Juliet. Lady Capulet is a character… who gives most of her mothering duties to the Nurse who mainly provides comic relief. Oh, and her daughter ends up killing herself. Maybe not the best example.
Sadly, I think the best examples end up in that cursed play Macbeth. We have one mother, Lady MacDuff who’s death actually puts some motivation into her husband, and Lady Macbeth, who realizes that she wouldn’t be a very good mother.
So… Happy Mother’s Day, I guess, from me. But not necessarily from William Shakespeare.