Shakespeare 's Macbeth - The Role Of Gender Essay

982 Words Jul 24th, 2015 4 Pages
Macbeth: The Role of Gender
William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth is set in a patriarchal Elizabethan society during the 17th century, a time when gender roles were clearly defined. The play tells the story of Macbeth, a Scottish general driven by a prophecy of his rise to power followed by his subsequent demise. Shakespeare uses the story to examine and subvert male and female stereotypes. Characters frequently reference and distinguish issues of gender. At first, Macbeth appears as a brave, strong, and loyal man that is able to lead and fight fiercely in battle. However, this impression of his masculinity doesn’t last as Shakespeare reveals Macbeth’s true colors as an overly ambitious man that is easily influenced. Likewise, Lady Macbeth proves she is no lady, as she manipulates and bullies her husband to gain power. In Macbeth, Shakespeare challenges the meaning of masculinity, and explores how gender influences ambition and courage.
In Elizabethan society masculinity was traditionally defined by physical strength, assertiveness, loyalty and power. However, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth equate masculinity with blatant aggression, brutality, and violence. Masculinity becomes a tool of manipulation to inspire blind ambition without honor. Yet women also contribute to the violence and evil in the play which is in contrast to the feminine nature. The witches’ prophecies spark Macbeth’s ambitions and encourage his violent behavior. Lady Macbeth bullies her husband to murder and…

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