Essay William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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William Shakespeare's Macbeth

William Shakespeare lived in an era where women possessed few political and private rights. Women were subjected to the will of men as men were thought to be greater morally, physically and intellectually. Shakespeare, as he was living in this hierarchical and patriarchal world, was subjected to this value system. His powerful and tragic play Macbeth, reflects aspects of this world but also challenges the very basis of it's foundations with the use of the characters, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, the Three Witches and Lady Macduff. These characters are not necessarily represented as traditional stereotypical type; this is inputted through the use of role reversal. It can
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This is achieved through sexual taunting, powered by her own ambition, “when you durst do it, then you were a man” (1, 7, 49). Macbeth responds to her gibe with a clear sense of himself as a man, and as a human. “I dare do all that may become a man/who dares do more is none” (1, 7, 46-47). It is clear then, that Macbeth while typifying the dominating stereotypical masculine image of the time, one of courage, decisiveness and strength, is also plagued with a significant weakness, that of femininity. This serves to both uphold the values of the Elizabethan era, and to challenge them.

In Lady Macbeth's desire to unsex herself (“unsex me here” (1, 5, 40)), she seeks to provoke her husband to action by unabashedly attempting to portray herself as an example of the superior 'man.' In doing so she succeeds in inverting the standard of male and female roles as they were prescribed by the Elizabethan Era. She demonstrates her great concern with her husband’s weak countenance saying, “Yet do I fear thy nature; / It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way” (1, 5, 16-18). Lady Macbeth recognizes that her husband’s impressionable nature leaves him vulnerable. His inability to withstand the pressures of his conscience presents Lady

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