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Defining Gender Roles In Macbeth Essay

966 words - 4 pages

​During the time period of Shakespearean literature, gender was a separating factor between the individuals of society. Men were expected to be the dominant figure in the relationship, while women were to play the more submissive role. These roles were almost never broken during this time, yet Shakespeare created a play that redefines gender roles altogether. Macbeth takes the accepted gender roles in Elizabethan society and indefinitely reevaluates the social norm. Shakespeare does this by defining masculinity as a unisex role in a relationship, defining femininity as a passive way to assert dominance over men, and exploring these with the relationship of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. ...view middle of the document...

He is expected to be the dominant, bold figure, yet he forces his wife to take over that role. Shakespeare creates a new concept in Macbeth by demonstrating that masculinity can indeed be either male or female depending on the situation at hand.
​The femininity in Macbeth should be submissive; however, it is anything but. In the time of Shakespeare, women were the auxiliary partners in the relationships, but in Macbeth, the roles are reversed multiple times. When everyone learns of Duncan’s demise, Lady Macbeth overcompensates for her feminine side in order to keep the suspicion off of her and her husband. She says, “Help me hence, ho!” (II.iii.111). While one could argue Lady Macbeth is the main reason that Macbeth goes down his murderous path, one would not know this from this particular scene. Her manipulation is uncanny as she converts herself from a conspirator to a damsel in distress. Lady Macbeth knows man’s view of women during her time, and she uses this to her advantage. She understands who she is expected to be, and manipulates the people around her to appear innocent. As Lady Macbeth is trying to persuade her husband to keep his promise, she describes to him what his commitment means to her. She explains, “I have given suck, and know / How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: / I would, while it was smiling in my face, /
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, / And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this." (I.vii.54-59). Lady Macbeth is overdramatizing her intentions in order to succeed in her persuasion. This exemplifies the deception that Lady Macbeth displays throughout the play. She uses the feminine nature of childbearing and turns it into a way to show her masculinity determination. Femininity in Macbeth...

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