Lady Macbeth By William Shakespeare

1886 Words8 Pages
Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s many tragedies that deals with power, masculinity and tyranny. Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff challenge masculinity and femininity, and what it means to be a man and how their gender limits them from reflecting their husband’s actions. Lady Macbeth attacks her husband’s masculinity by accusing him of being too weak to strive for power and ambition. She begs the spirits to remove her womanly traits and replace them with cruelty in order to kill King Duncan herself. Lady Macduff is Lady Macbeth’s foil character because Lady Macbeth signifies evil and deceit, and Lady Macduff represents a nurturing mother. Their female roles are significant to their definitions of masculinity because it reveals how each…show more content…
Lady Macbeth exudes her strong character traits when she slanders her husband’s lack of masculinity through mockery. She offends Macbeth’s masculinity and his hesitancy to go through with the murder of King Duncan, by questioning his courage and strength in order to fulfill his desires:
Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’,
Like the poor cat i’th’ adage? (1.7.39-44)

Lady Macbeth compares Macbeth’s willingness to murder King Duncan with his sexual abilities. She agitates his thoughts of being afraid to pursue his desires and asks him whether or not he would rather live a reality of wanting and taking, or being too fearful to take his desires. She compares Macbeth with references to the proverbial: “’The cat would eat fish but does not dare to wet her feet,’” which shows an animal who is not afraid to find food, as long as it means staying out of water. This relates to Macbeth, because like him, the cat has limits and an extent as to where he would go for food and power. According to Lois Tyson, the traditional male gender roles include being “naturally rational, strong, protective, and decisive” (142). Macbeth possesses none of the traits listed above, and acquires the
Get Access