Gender Roles In Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Since the beginning of humanity, people have been using gender roles to determine how society functions. There are no exceptions during the events of Macbeth, a play about Macbeth and his story of honorable man turned tyrant and how his actions affect the world around him. From the murder of King Duncan to the death of Young Siward, Shakespeare shows that he believes gender roles are to be followed but can be broken. This can be seen throughout the entirety of the play. Beginning with Lady Macbeth summoning evil spirits, to her not being able to hear the horrible news, to Macbeth questioning the masculinity of three murderers, to Macduff deciding to do more than just sit back and watch, to the death of the son of the King of England, gender roles can be found in crack and corner of Macbeth. Starting early in the play, after reading Macbeth’s letter about being told his prophecy of becoming king, Lady Macbeth decides that it is Macbeth’s fate to become king. She knows how loyal Macbeth is to Duncan but she knows she can force Macbeth to betray Duncan. Shakespeare uses this moment to go against tradition and has the good wife of the honorable man start meddling in evil. To do this, she calls upon unholy “spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts” to “unsex [her] here” (I.v.46-49). Lady Macbeth essentially calls the holy spirits to strip her of her womanly traits, breaking the gender role, so she may be able to continue through with her evil deeds, usually only committed by men.
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