Masculinity And Violence In William Shakespeare's Macbeth

798 Words 4 Pages
In William Shakespeare’s, Macbeth, readers are given a twizzler of a tale that deals with masculinity and violence; written in approximately the year 1606. The questioning of gender roles, and what they are, have never hit a higher peak than that of in 2016. However, about 400 years ago, Shakespeare managed to capture the ambiguity of it all in one seamless sweep. Readers are introduced to some interesting characters in Macbeth who are known as the three weird sisters, who look neither man nor women. Readers are also introduced to Lady Macbeth. She is a woman and is large, plus in charge of her household. In 1606, actors in the theatre would have been male. Women, child, elderly: all played by men. I believe Shakespeare used these different character types to deepen the questioning, and hilarity, of what society called “masculine” within a male dominated society.
The splitting of gender roles is perhaps most prevalent in Macbeth when readers hear Lady Macbeth’s own soliloquy in Act I, Scene V. Lady Macbeth announces: ...Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe topful Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood;
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It also goes to illustrate that Macbeth was perceived as one who was ruthless and uncaring about the (perhaps) innocent souls of man. He fought hard for what he needed and didn’t look back. Lady Macbeth knew of this “ruthlessness” of her husband, and thus did not understand the internal conflict he had. This internal conflict would be one that dealt with killing someone who was not on the battlefield, and therefore the killing would have to be one of desire instead of need. However, once Macbeth acted upon this desire, and consequently becoming “masculine,” Lady Macbeth loses her capacity to control her new “man of a husband.” Thus, rendering Lady Macbeth without any hint of masculinity and driving her

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