Gender Roles In Macbeth

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The Elizabethan era was a patriarchal society, males were perceived as dominant, filled with strength and bravery while women were the inferior sex, having a motherly, nurturing and timid nature. William Shakespeare constantly defies these expectations in the tragedy of Macbeth, through the dominance and manipulation of the witches and Lady Macbeth and the weaker sides of Macbeth and Macduff, despite their noble status that ensures their bravery and strength.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare confronts standard gender stereotypes of the Elizabethan era by highlighting the masculinity and manipulative nature of the witches. In Shakespeare’s time, women were viewed as the weaker gender, with little status in society and dominated by males. The witches defy this by displaying their masculine features and their power to manipulate Macbeth’s ambition of becoming king. In Act I Scene III, Banquo states to the witches, “You should be women / And yet your beards forbid me to interpret / That you are so.” This suggests the masculine appearance of the witches and symbolises their strength and influence in male dominated society. In addition, in Act I Scene III, the first witch informs the other witches of her plans to curse the sailor after his wife’s disobedience. The simile in, “I will drain him dry as hay/ Sleep shall neither night nor day,” suggests the witches’ power over the sailor and their potential to act out of hatred, which was expected from males. As a result, Shakespeare defies the

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