William Shakespeare 's Macbeth : Women 's Agency

2261 Words Dec 7th, 2014 10 Pages
Cory Weaver
Michael R Kightley
English 201
24 November 2014
Relative Masculinity in Macbeth: Women’s Agency William Shakespeare uses Macbeth to show the agency that is created for women when men are pushed into proving their own masculinity. In order to fully understand Shakespeare’s portrayal of masculinity in Macbeth we must first examine the stereotypes of the Elizabethan era that effected Shakespeare’s writing. “Defining what a female was supposed to be and do was an act of Renaissance culture, as it has been for other times. For Shakespeare, as well as for most of Renaissance society, women as the feminine represented the following virtues which, importantly, have their meaning in relationship to the male; obedience, silence, sexual chastity, piety, humility, constancy, and patience. However, gender characteristics were socially constructed and there was an easy cross-over of masculine and feminine traits to both genders.” (Gerlach, Almasy, Daniel, Revisiting Shakespeare and Gender). Defining masculine and feminine characteristics allowed writers like Shakespeare to draw males with certain "feminine" characteristics and females with certain "masculine" characteristics. “This merging of masculine and feminine traits in both males and females helps to explain how easy it was for the Elizabethan stage to employ and accept all male casts.” (Gerlach, Almasy, Daniel, Revisiting Shakespeare and Gender). These plays utilized men to play strong female characters like Lady…

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