Macbeth Gender Roles Essay

1687 words - 7 pages

Although gender roles have changed over time and males and females have become more equal, certain labels of men and women still exist. In William Shakespeare's tragedy “Macbeth“, Shakespeare explores and challenges the ideas of traditional gender roles, regarding leadership, power and masculinity. In the play Lady Macbeth and the witches show a dominant role in the play by unleashing their capabilities to manipulate and toy with men to achieve their objectives. However, the characters of Macbeth and Macduff are seen to portray a very weak and feminine role while Lady Macbeth and the witches are playing the more masculine role.
Lady Macbeth desires to become more masculine. In the play Lady Macbeth portrays herself as being more masculine than Macbeth by continuously mocking him about his masculinity. She feels that unless she takes the masculine role they will not be able to carry on with the murder. She continuously questions his masculinity to motivate him into doing what she wants.
Art thou afeard/ To be the same in thin e own act and valour/
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that/ Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,/
And live a coward in thine own esteem,/Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’,/
Like the poor cat i’th’adage?/(1.7.39-44).
Lady Macbeth ridicules Macbeth, asking him if he is afraid. She is using mind games hoping that Macbeth will change his mind and follow through with the murdering of King Duncan. By taking control and mocking Macbeth she portrays herself to be more masculine than Macbeth. Lady Macbeth also feels that due to her being a woman she does not possess the masculine qualities needed to carry on with the murder. She then calls for spirits to take away her femininity and fill her with masculinity.
Come you spirits/ That tend on moral thoughts, unsex me here,/
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/ Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;/
Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,/(1.5.39-43).
Lady Macbeth wishes and even prays to spirits to make herself more masculine so she can commit the murder because she thinks Macbeth is too feminine to carry on with it. Lady Macbeth is in desperate desire of masculine qualities. At this time she has completely lost faith that Macbeth will be able to carry through with their plan. All she can do now is to pray that she’ll become more evil and strong so she can do the deed herself.
Lady Macbeth wants to become cruel, which is a so-called masculine trait.
In order to become cruel, she must close off the flow of blood from having
“access and passage” to the heart, which is the seat of flow, the source
of “remorse,” pity, compassion, and contrition—all of which are “compunctious”
attributes of our human nature.
Lady Macbeth strives for these qualities that are...

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