How Does Shakespeare Present Gender Roles In Macbeth

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Firstly Shakespeare reverses gender roles in the play through expressing each character 's personality. Shakespeare manages to defy conventions through the character Lady Macbeth as he explores the boundaries of what it means to be a “woman.” Her first mental gender transformation occurs after she reads the letter sent to her from Macbeth and hears of King Duncan 's intended visit. In Act 1, Scene 5 she pleads to the spirits, "Come, you spirits. That tend on mortal thoughts. Unsex me here. And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full, of direst cruelty!” The use of the imperative “come” creates a demanding tone of power. This also could indicate desperation as she rejects her femininity by telling the spirits to “Unsex me here” or strip her of her …show more content…

Such an act would go against God himself, and so the linking of evil spirits present her to be unwomanly and almost witch-like. Gender roles were set during Shakespeare 's time. Women were considered emotional, nurturing, and fragile where men were considered stoic, strong, and masculine. Lady Macbeth laments her gender while she hatches her plan to kill King Duncan: "Come to my woman 's breasts, And take my milk for gall…" The language suggests that her womanhood, represented by “breasts” and “milk”, usually symbols of nurture, impedes her from performing acts of violence and cruelty, which she associates with manliness.

Ironically Macbeth, on the other hand, is sensitive towards the king as Lady Macbeth expresses her concern: “Yet do I fear thy nature” saying

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