Macbeth by William Shakespeare brings about one of the most controversial topic of the gender portrayal in a play. During Shakespearean times, women were considered as the weaker sex, physically and emotionally. On the other hand, men were seen as the dominant sex that is expected to be the head of their households and a strong figure. Unlike this stereotypical representation of men and women, Shakespeare introduces the reversal of gender roles in his play. Shakespeare’s portrayal of the relationship and characteristics of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth diverged from the stereotypical representation of both men and women. The author, William Shakespeare’s use of reverse gender roles which contradicted with the traditional gender roles, is what
The traditional gender role for men and women is a strict set of expectations one must face and either choose to follow or defy it. In the Shakespearian era women portray as the weaker sex because they display as needing protection as the more fragile, innocent, and dependent sex, whereas men have authority as strong, capable, and honourable beings. However, the traditional gender roles play in reversal in Macbeth by William Shakespeare by having Lady Macbeth, the Three Witches (weird sisters), and Macbeth defy the gender roles that allow women and men to portray in a unique way in society. First, Lady Macbeth is defiant to her role as a woman because she is able to take initiative, deceive others, and commit violent acts. Secondly, the three Witches are in fact sisters which avid them to follow their role as women, however they defy their roles because they manipulate others, have the capability to make independent decisions, and kill without hesitation. Finally, Macbeth defies his roles as a man in the Shakespearian era because he acts cowardly, isn’t able to carry out duties himself, and is disloyal to his companions.
A prominent and permeating theme in Macbeth is the roles and characteristics of masculinity and femininity. Throughout the play Shakespeare presents the audience with strong and sometimes conflicting views of these gender roles. What exactly defines being a man or a woman? How does an individual’s grasp of these roles effect their actions? Shakespeare shows that a clear and accurate understanding of the concept of masculinity is of critical importance in the success of a ruler. In particular, he illustrates how Macbeth’s acceptance of a perverted, violent view of masculinity leads his kingdom into chaos and turmoil, and leads Macbeth to his inevitable demise. Moral order can only be restored
Lady Macbeth is a complex and intriguing character in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. She is a difficult character to embody as her personality seems split between two sides, one that is pure evil, sly and conniving in contrast to her softer, vulnerable, weak and feminine side. In the play we see her in these two main ways. The reader may feel a certain animosity towards Lady Macbeth throughout the first few acts as her personality appears more and more distasteful, in spite of this towards the end she has a serious breakdown over the guilt that torments her, even in her sleep, regarding her hand in Duncan’s untimely death.
We have all made mistakes in our lives, things we cannot reverse. I personally have never made such a bad mistake its life-changing but we see this happen in MacBeth, a play written by William Shakespeare. It has many themes and insinuates several different messages.
In the modern 21sr century, the roles and behaviors expected of individuals remains analogous despite gender. This ideology stems from the preceding movement in equality, which preaches that differences of sex appear insignificant. Despite this notion, there remains distinct differences in the physical and psychological makeups of both men and women. In most cultures, certain duties remain associated with specific genders. With this in mind, Shakespeare’s Macbeth heightens the supernatural evil possessing Lady Macbeth as she condones murder for her own selfish ambition, while in Shakespeare’s time women were regarded as peaceful and full of feminine sympathies. This anachronism with the reality of Shakespeare’s day, illustrates the immense sense of wickedness and abnormality emphasizing her character’s influence on her husband and the plot of the play. In contrast, Macbeth appears to some extent a more acceptable evil due to a greater compliance with the gender standards and moral transition during the Shakespearean era. Shakespeare utilizes numerous literary intentions in order to express these diverse levels of evil to provide an element of depth behind the mental reactions and deteriorations of the characters until their final decease into the complete darkness of death.
In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, gender plays a pivotal role in the development of the overall plot and as the play advances, certain characters, including Macbeth and Lady Macbeth experience a reversal in traditional gender behaviors. Additionally, we see gender confusion among other characters that enhances conflict in the play. Originally, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are portrayed in ways that enforce their respective masculinity and feminism in accordance to the society around them. As Macbeth begins to contemplate his decision regarding the killing of Duncan, his marriage becomes the primary driving force behind his action and thoughts in this matter. Although in some cases, male and female roles in this play remain static, the
Instead of feminine guilt, Macbeth manifests ambition and ruthlessness, traits formerly considered to be masculine. Denoting this ruthlessness is his willingness to slay former friend Banquo, and Macduff’s innocent family. Macbeth’s will to act is conveyed when he plans Banquo’s murder himself, and insists Lady Macbeth, “be innocent of the knowledge...till thou applaud the deed”. (3.3.51-52) Both processes show the male imperative of will and action, which differs from his initial “we will proceed no further” stance (1.7.34). This highlights how as Macbeth has gained power; he has firmly situated himself within the realm of masculinity and is no longer susceptible to his wife’s influence. However, Macbeth later faces an untimely death at the hands of Macduff. The audience perceives this as ‘punishment’ for initially allowing his wife to fulfil the dominant role of the
Immediately, after reading Macbeth’s letter, Lady Macbeth’s malevolence urges her to plot the murder for the king. She decides to encourage Macbeth and calls for evil spirits to aid her brutal plans, “Come, you spirits… you murd’ring ministers… You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night”. Her talk about defeminising herself and making her the superior amongst the couple, “That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here”, suggests Macbeth is weak and powerless in her presence. She implicates her husband of not being physically impotent but soft hearted and sentimental. She confronts him of this and warns him of his manliness and cowardice. She uses these various, manipulative strategies (challenging his manhood, being more aggressive, and defeminising
With social and cultural stereotypes in this era, men were viewed as more powerful while women were portrayed as weak. William Shakespeare tries to interpret the roles between genders by having characters of the opposite sex. In the play Macbeth, William Shakespeare uses rhetorical devices to demonstrate Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s switch in traditional gender roles, which arise from the consequences for each character’s actions and speech.
Ambition, a trait which underlines success, but while unchecked can lead to self or societal corruption. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Macbeth”, a brave general falls into tyranny and paranoia after he acts immorally upon the witches prophecies. Macbeth’s pursuit of long lasting power reveals the consequences of hubris and unchecked ambition, which ultimately leads to the the deterioration of his human nature and the corruption of the kingdom. Through the use of thematic motif, the theme of Macbeth’s unchecked ambition and hubris is examined through his struggle to alter and actuate fate, his haunting hallucinations, and the apparitions.
Lady Macbeth brings in many emotions as she wishes her femininity to be gone.With her strong lust to become royalty her feminine weaknesses can not stand in the way. Without a hesitation she yells to the spirits to “Make thick my blood” to ensure her sensitivity to everything is blocked. She can not be soft to her husband when he returns, or he will not follow her orders. This further reveals her powerful ambition to become the
Although not as evil looking as the witches, Lady Macbeth can also be perceived as one. In the same way that the witches sabotage the order of religion and that of society so does Lady Macbeth. She does this by trying to overwhelm her husband and have more power than he does. She also performs several deeds that imply that she is evil and like that of a witch. This includes her challenging her husband’s manhood through attempting to appear and act more aggressive and masculine than he is. This desire for masculinity is expressed when she says: “Come, you spirits. That tend on moral thought, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the tow top-full Of direst cruelty” (Shakespeare, 1996), casting
Lady Macbeth wants the spirits to “unsex [her] here” not because she wants to be transformed into a man, but rather she desires the same male characteristics as her husband which are associated with violence. Alfar claims, “If she does indeed transgress her gender to become more manly, therefore, it is because she must do so to reflect—as conduct manuals demand—the bloody desire of her husband (181).
Lady Macbeth’s burning ambition to be queen drives her to the point of insanity. She stops at nothing to gain power and uses Macbeth as the enforcer for her plans. This power is clearly illustrated as her husband follows her command to kill the king of Scotland, she constantly taunts Macbeth bringing him even further under her control. She is quite the opposite of how we generally assume feminine characters to act, and even begs the gods to remove her femininity at one point, “...Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here...Come to my woman’s breasts, and take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers...” (Shakespeare 12). As Lady Macbeth expresses her desire to become unsexed, we see the link that clearly exists between masculinity and murder. She believes that since she is a woman she cannot be capable of committing such evil deeds, and her reference to her breasts which is generally linked to the idea of nurture, is called upon in reference to her desire to do quite the opposite. Lady Macbeth presents a very strong character throughout the play, and through her actions a very clear picture of a manipulative wife is painted. Though Macbeth is the one to carry out many of the deviant plans, Lady Macbeth’s role is clearly portrayed as the evil mastermind behind the murders.