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; Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it. (I.V.39-46)
Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy illustrates how she wishes to “unsex” herself of her feminine characteristics, and instead become masculine. With…