Of all of Shakespeare’s tragic tales and stories, one of the most devastating and bloody is the tale of Macbeth. The premise is simple. An average man, overtook by need for power, kills in order to receive it. What follows is a horrid chain of events, leading to many unnecessary deaths and a dreadful conclusion. From afar, this may just seem like a sad story with little meaning; however, on closer inspection, it may be worth asking the question. Who is to blame for all of this? The answer to this question is the idea of gender stereotypes.
In “Macbeth: The Prisoner of Gender,” Robert Kimbrough explores the topic of manliness in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Kimbrough begins by examining how masculinity and femininity came about in the first place, stating that the origin can best come from the “Judeo-Christian version of God the Creator” (179). The differences between males and females created a hierarchy in Shakespeare’s time, where males were on the top and females were on the bottom. Kimbrough states that the differences betweens the two genders are “matters of the mind,” and believes “Shakespeare sensed that so long as one remains exclusively female or exclusively male, that person will be ... denied human growth" (179). These “matters of the mind” are what Shakespeare tackles
Through the course of ‘Macbeth’, masculinity is presented as a driving force to Macbeth’s crimes, making it a vital theme. In this essay, focus will be on masculinity’s presentation through Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. In the beginning, Shakespeare portrays Macbeth as “valiant”: a prized masculine quality and the key to respect in their society. However, this trait becomes warped along the play. Furthermore, Lady Macbeth has power comparable to man’s but is then cast aside by her husband at the end. Shakespeare thus presents masculinity in both a positive and negative light.
Macbeth takes place in medieval Scotland, where gender barriers were very strict. Men were supposed to act as strong fighters, while women were locked in the domestic sphere. These gender roles are prominent in the character developments of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. At first, Macbeth is a strong, heroic solider that shows unbounded courage in battle and loyalty to his king. As the play progresses, he becomes cold, ruthless, and miserable. Lady Macbeth takes on a “manly” role, which is surprising because of how patriarchal the society is. However, she “gradually falls apart, consumed by guilt, and eventually commits suicide”. (Klett)
Macbeth is a tragedy chronicling a highly esteemed man’s demise, due to his transformation into a ruthless and apathetic human being. Regardless of his tyrannous behaviour, is Macbeth deserving of sympathy because of the external forces that meddled in his affairs? Francesco Aristide Ancona and Mary Ives Thompson attempt to deal with this question and the impact of gender roles in their essay, “ He says/ She says: Shakespeare’s Macbeth (A gender/ personality study).”
In the beginning Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth was a ruthless and masculine woman. She showed the audience that, mentally and emotionally, she was stronger than Macbeth. Although as the story started to continue the audience began to see that she was becoming mentally insane. Throughout the story there was also evidence of shakespeare showing the more masculinity you had the more cuel you became. Through Lady Macbeth’s change from ruthless and masculin to insane, Shakespeare illustrates the impact of murder.
In the popular play Macbeth, Shakespeare compares the gender stereotypes portrayed to those different pre-existing ideas from other generations such as the 1900’s, the 50’s, and even today 's society. Macbeth has plenty of examples of the exaggeration of gender roles that clearly differentiate male and female by construing their proper roles as polar opposite or complementary. Examples proving that there are gender stereotypes in Macbeth pertain to characters such as Lady Macbeth, The Witches, and Macbeth himself. In Macbeth, the many different stereotypes of gender roles from throughout the century to today’s society have been displayed in many aspects of the play. With examples of the exaggeration of gender constructs pertaining to the male
Shakespeare, like any other man in the 16th and 17th century, saw ambitious and dominant women as evil and even disturbing or disturbed. From Macbeth, we can see Shakespeare feels women should be challenged and punished because they are trying to change society. Nowadays these ambitious and dominant women are regarded as brave and respected because of their ambition, such as Lady Macbeth’s ambition to become Queen. Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth as mentally disturbed.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare displays how women manipulate men. Lady Macbeth’s ‘evil’ is an ideologically inscribed notion that is often linked to our literary tradition to strong female characters who seek power, who reject filial loyalty as prior to self-loyalty and who pursue desire in all its forms. (Thomas 82). In the story, after Duncan’s killing, Macbeth ended up feeling kind of bad.
It’s no surprise, that Shakespeare’s Macbeth was clearly constructed as a rebellion against femininity roles of the time. During the Elizabethan era, women were raised to believe they were inferior to men since men obtained desired masculine qualities such as strength, and loyalty, whereas women were viewed as figures of hospitality (1; 6; 28-31). Obviously, not being tempted by the luxury of subservient women, William Shakespeare rebuked this twisted belief, applying that women deserve more respect than their kitchen tables. However, if transcending female expectations was used as a weapon than for good, is it still considered an act of femininity? Of course not! It clears that although Shakespeare rebelled against gender roles of his time, he still believes that women/men should have moral intentions. With the character Lady Macbeth, we get a taste of what inhuman values, attitude and believes look like, and eventually what this lifestyle can lead to. (Hint: it is not good)
The women in Macbeth are presented by Shakespeare to be powerful and ambitious which was unlike the typical views during Jacobean times. The playwright portrays Lady Macbeth and the witches to be highly influential to male characters in the play, which again contrasts the contemporary views to that time. Their ambition and power are demonstrated through the perversion of nature. This highlights the evil and immoral side, they possess. Shakespeare, however, presented Lady Macbeth and the witches to be manipulative and cunning, rather than violent like Macbeth was during the play. Finally, even though the women were shown to be strong throughout most of the play, Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff both have unfortunate outcomes.
Throughout all of macbeth, gender roles are present in all of the halls of Macbeth's castle. It is extraordinary how William Shakespeare has molded and set examples of the male masculinity struggle and to uphold it, while on the other side how women must be treated as fragile birds. Shakespeare uses gender roles ironically to portray the complexity of the characters he has created.
In this essay I will be comparing two female characters from different texts and different time periods. We will be looking in depth at Lady Macbeth from Shakespeare 's play 'Macbeth ', and Sheila from J.B. Priestley 's 'An Inspector Calls '. We will be looking at their roles in their respective plays, and how their characters develop over time. It is clear that both ladies are in strong relationships, but how they act within these relationships is vastly different.
For Shakespeare’s plays to contain enduring ideas, it must illustrate concepts that still remain relevant today, in modern society. Shakespeare utilises his tragic play Othello, to make an important social commentary on the common gender stereotypes. During early modern England, Shakespeare had to comply to the strict social expectations where women were viewed as tools, platonic and mellow, and where men were displayed as masculine, powerful, tempered, violent and manipulative. As distinct as this context is to the 21st century, the play exposes how women were victimised by the men who hold primary power in the community in which they compelled women to conform to the ideal world of a perfect wife or confront an appalling destiny for challenging the system. Moreover, Shakespeare utilises the main antagonist, Iago, to portray how men are desperate to achieve what they want and to indirectly fulfil the stereotype of masculinity and power through manipulation. Throughout the play we observe Emilia’s character change, and how she suffered the consequence of challenging the system.
In the world of politics, the war over power often occurs between men, this world is a masculine world. A world that from beginning of the history linked men with war, fight, bloodshed and greatness, but women with softness, weakness and incapability; especially in the old times of Shakespeare. In spite of this, Shakespeare introduces us to an interesting female character called “Lady Macbeth”. A powerful woman with ambition and courage. Lady Macbeth played by “Amanda Billing” at Pop Up Globe, is so tough that even the loss of her child doesn’t leave her devastated.