Gender, By William Shakespeare Essay

1019 Words Mar 11th, 2016 5 Pages
Gender’s ___ in Macbeth
In Macbeth, William Shakespeare challenges the traditional definitions of genders as two polarized ends of masculinity and femininity. Although Macbeth commits heinous acts to achieve his goal of taking the throne and appears masculine, his mind is in fact tormented by his inner femininity. Similarly, Lady Macbeth’s mental wellbeing is threatened as she shifts chooses to become a masculine figure with unbridled violent thoughts. By assigning Macbeth and Lady Macbeth conflicting gender roles, Shakespeare suggests divergence from gender expectations can cause tremendous distress.
Macbeth’s indecision and submission to fear reveals his femininity, an attribute he represses so much that harms his mental stability. After Macbeth reveals to Lady Macbeth that he would rather settle on the new honors he received than killing King Duncan, Lady Macbeth pulls him back to action by questioning his manhood: “What beast was ’t, then,/ That made you break this enterprise to me?/ When you durst do it, then you were a man” (1.7). Shakespeare conveys the expected behaviors for a man through Lady Macbeth’s speech. The stereotypical masculinity is upheld by courage, reservation of emotion, and confidence. Perceiving Macbeth’s cowardice and breakage of his promise as a sign of femininity, Lady Macbeth devalues Macbeth to a “beast”, something not even a human being. She then tells Macbeth that, in order to defend his masculinity, he should be more daring and continue to…

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