Macbeth Masculinity Essay

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Characters in Macbeth frequently dwell upon the issues of violence and cruelty which are associated with masculinity. Throughout the play many characters have experienced this issue of manhood which has been contradicted to many of them such as how Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband by questioning his manhood, wishes that she herself could be “unsexed” and does not contradict Macbeth when he says that a women like her should give birth only to boys. Another example would be how Macbeth’s own actions that leads him towards violence and evil and how Macduff takes his revenge on Macbeth for killing his wife and child. Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and frightening female characters. When we first see her, she is already plotting Duncan’s murder, and she is stronger, more ruthless, and more ambitious than her husband. She seems fully aware of this and knows that she will have to push Macbeth into committing murder. At one point, she wishes that she were not a woman so that she could do it herself. This theme of the relationship between gender and power is the key to Lady Macbeth’s character: her husband implies that she is a masculine soul inhabiting a female body, which seems to link masculinity to ambition and violence. Shakespeare, however, seems to use her, and the witches, to undercut Macbeth’s idea that “undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males” (1.7.73–74). These crafty women use female methods of achieving power—that is, manipulation—to further their supposedly male ambitions. Women, the play implies, can be as ambitious and cruel as men, yet social constraints deny them the means to pursue these ambitions on their own. Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband with remarkable effectiveness, overriding all his objections; when he hesitates to murder, she repeatedly questions his manhood until he feels that he must commit murder to prove
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