Defining Manhood Through Gender Stereotypes

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“Man Up”: Defining Manhood through Gender Stereotypes in Macbeth In The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare attempts to define manhood and explore the different perceptions held towards what it means to be a man. As William Liston notes in his essay, “Man appears more than 40 times, almost always with a conscious sense of defining the term—or rather, of defining a person by the term” (232). Lady Macbeth is used as a tool to not only convey this theme, but she instigates the plot as well. Without her consistent scorn and ridicule of Macbeth and his “femininity”, he would most likely have never killed King Duncan or performed any of the other murders that occur throughout the play. Specifically speaking, the word choice of Lady Macbeth as well as her actions are what propel her husband into acting himself. Eventually, Macbeth’s overall attitude changes as a result of his wife’s ridicule. While Lady Macbeth undoubtedly spurs her husband into action, it is important to note that by the end of the play, she has lost what influence she had over him as well as her ability to control her own emotions. Lady Macbeth has a clear notion of how a man is supposed to act and the qualities the must possess. Throughout the course of the play, the readers/viewers discover exactly what image she has in mind. In her viewpoint, a man is one who attains his goals violently as is exemplified by her insistence that Macbeth kill King Duncan. The gap between genders is made evident in one of Lady
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