Macbeth Gender Roles Essay

1061 Words 5 Pages
Gender roles in historic literature are aspects that are often talked about, but very rarely argued, particularly in conversation–but also in academic articles and scholarly discussions. Too often we see injustice concerning women in plays and novels, but instead of criticizing those stereotypes, the majority of readers tend to simply dismiss them as results of another time. In Macbeth, it is easy to see why the woman do not hold positions of power and have many negative associations, mostly due to women being confined to the role of homemaker in the seventeenth century, but the more interesting thing to do is argue those stereotypes. While some may see Macbeth as a fairly equal play in the sense that there are several female roles, some even …show more content…
The witches plant the idea of Macbeth becoming king by killing Banquo in his mind. They gave him the idea under the command of Hecate, and then Lady Macbeth is the one who really persuaded him that murder was the best option. They all defy their gender roles by trying to use what little power they have in influencing decisions, but the decisions they do influence all have negative connotations. Shakespeare doesn’t give them the opportunity to have a positive influence, and instead uses them as a scapegoat for Macbeth’s wrongdoings. It becomes almost impossible to hold Macbeth accountable, because the play is almost drilling the association between woman and evil into the minds of the reader. In addition, one of the biggest, most misogynistic flaws in the play was how quickly Lady Macbeth’s suicide was passed over. When Macbeth was told that his wife was dead, he simply replied “she should have died hereafter” (V.V.17), implying that she would have died anyways. There was no mourning, no period of grief. She wasn’t killed heroically, nor did she have a good reason for suicide. It was simply that she was a woman, a woman who lived in a time where to have ideas was synonymous for being crazy. She had been stripped of her identity so harshly throughout the play, that by the time she committed suicide, she was nothing more than a voiceless victim of

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