Macbeth Masculinity Analysis

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William Shakespeare’s Macbeth begins in confusion, opening with the end of a conversation between three witches about a war and someone named Macbeth. Then, we meet a king named Duncan, who receives a report about how “brave Macbeth” (1.2.16) defeats rebels and a Norwegian lord. On their way back to Duncan, Macbeth and his friend Banquo meet the three witches, who tell Macbeth that he will be thane of Cawdor and king and Banquo that his descendants will be kings. Upon their return, Duncan praises Macbeth and Banquo, and names Macbeth thane of Cawdor and his eldest son, Malcolm, heir to the throne. During their celebration at Macbeth’s estate, Macbeth is persuaded by Lady Macbeth to “be so much more the man” (1.7.52) and kill Duncan. In the …show more content…
Rather, he loses a great deal: his friend, his wife, and ultimately, his life. Why, then, does he kill Duncan? We see Lady Macbeth impress upon him that he ought to take the crown by force if he was a man. In fact, she often questions Macbeth’s masculinity. Why is she so obsessed with masculinity? Perhaps more importantly, why is the play so concerned with masculinity? In the play, masculinity seems to go hand-in-hand with murder. Is the play celebrating this kind of savage masculinity or condemning it? If the play is advocating for this kind of masculinity, it advocates also for violence and bloodshed. On the other hand, if it means to condemn Macbeth and the exaggerated notion of masculinity he assumes, perhaps it is suggesting a more balanced …show more content…
Remembering the rest of the witches’ prophecy, he fears Banquo. With Banquo alive, Macbeth has sacrificed his conscience, “put rancours in the vessel of [his] peace / ...To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings” (3.1.66, 69). Defending his masculinity and killing Duncan would all have been for nought if he is not able to keep his crown. So, Macbeth kills Banquo (and tries to kill his son Fleance), his friend, a wise and valiant man. No man would do such a thing. If killing the good, virtuous Duncan was not already too much, surely murdering his friend was going too far, and Macbeth seems to think so. He becomes wrought with hallucinations as he hosts a dinner with his subjects. Lady Macbeth rebukes him, asking “Are you a man?” (3.4.55). Additionally, when he tries to point out Banquo’s ghost, she says he is “quite unmanned in folly” (3.4.71). Again, she seems to insist that a real man should be capable of guiltlessly killing good men, but there are consequences to this kind of

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