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Challenged Gender Roles In Shakespeare´S Macbeth

896 words - 4 pages

The Elizabethan era was a time that had very strict expectations of what it means to be a man or a woman. However, these expectations are not followed in Macbeth. In Macbeth, Shakespeare investigates and challenges the common gender roles of the time. Through defying the natural gender roles, he shows how people can accomplish their goals. He challenges the stereotypical Elizabethan woman through Lady Macbeth and the Weïrd Sisters, and he investigates how the stereotypes for men are used for manipulation.

In the Elizabethan era, the expectations for woman were limited to being a housewife and a mother. Women were expected to obey their husbands. These expectations, and the person ...view middle of the document...

The witches were manipulative, driving Macbeth to commit more and more murders (just by giving him prophecies). This all started with the the third prophecy, “[a]ll hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter.” (I,iii,48) This prophecy is what led Macbeth to commit his first murder. Banquo became suspicious that Macbeth was involved in Duncan’s murder, which led Macbeth to hiring murderers to kill Banquo. After which, Macbeth believed he was in too deep, saying to Lady Macbeth, “I am in blood [s]tepp’d so far that should I wade no more, [r]eturning were as tedious as go o’er.” (III,v,136-8) The witches also manipulated Macbeth into thinking he was untouchable. The apparitions told him that, “none of woman born [would] harm Macbeth”, and “Macbeth [would] never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill [would] come against him” (IV,i,79-80&91-3) The witches proved to be nothing like a typical woman of the time, and he showed how being different allowed them to have much more power over others.

Shakespeare also investigated how the common gender roles could be used to influence a person’s decision making, and how this could be used to accomplish your goals. The common was of doing this was to question a man’s masculinity. When Macbeth said to Lady Macbeth that they would “proceed no further” (I,vii,31) while discussing murdering Duncan, Lady Macbeth became infuriated. “When you durst do it,” Lady Macbeth said, “then you were a man.” Telling Macbeth he wasn’t a man completely stalled him. The only argument he could come up with...

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