Gender Characters And Sexism In Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Gender helps to dictate how characters are defined. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, though the line between hero and villain is constantly blurred, there is a strong divide in how men and women are treated in the text. If villainy is defined by a character driven to evil through their own ambition and self-interest, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are the play’s villains. However, these characters are treated very differently by Shakespeare and by the play’s society due to their genders. Unlike Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is unable to fulfill the role of a villain, not only because of the boundaries set for her in her world due to her gender, but because she buys into these boundaries. Furthermore, by behaving outside of stereotypical gender confines, she falls through the cracks of the play’s narrative, never having a satisfying ending to her story. This is because she does not fit into the standard dichotomy of hero and villain, so …show more content…
Shakespeare has not written a sexist character when he writes a woman blocked by the patriarchal constructs surrounding her, he’s making a statement about sexism through her. Lady Macbeth cannot be the villain of Macbeth not because she does not possess the qualities, but because the structure of the play and of her world does not allow for it. When Macbeth tells her, “Bring forth men-children only / For thy undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males” (i.vii.83-85),” he is both making a statement about her masculine position, and still making the assumption that her ultimate position is still to be a mother. For all her statements and actions over the course of the play, she is still being trapped in the role of wife, mother and daughter. Even as Macbeth acknowledges her “undaunted mettle” and ability, she is being reduced to the role of a woman and nothing else in her society, leaving no room for Shakespeare to portray her as a

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