Patriarchy In Macbeth

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The seventeenth century in which Shakespeare wrote Macbeth has one very important societal factor which has heavy influence in his tragedy. The idea of “manhood” in a patriarchal society and what it means to be a man is one of the contributing factors to Macbeth's eventual murder of his King. For Macbeth’s wife to manipulate him would be unheard of in this sort of society. Yet when trying to uncover who is truly at fault for Duncan’s death it becomes evident that it is in fact a woman, Lady Macbeth, who controls and manipulates her husband into murdering his king and the eventual turmoil that ensues.
Lady Macbeth plays a very important role in every decision that Macbeth makes which directly supports her culpability. In the beginning when
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She was the one who made Macbeth kill Duncan, and it is especially evident right after the murder when she says, “My hands are of your colour, but shame to wear a heart so white” (II ii 61). These lines indicate her mental state once the guilt has somewhat set in for the death she caused. The reference to the colour of her and her husband's’ hands, which are red with blood, are figurative of the blame she shares in Duncan’s murder. The shame of having a white heart highlights her inability to have a clear conscience. Similar language resurfaces when her mental state deteriorates even further, and she finally succumbs to the guilt of her actions. One of the maids catches Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, “I have seen her rise from her bed” (V i 4.) talking to herself. Akin to Macbeth’s words about the guilty not being able to sleep. When Macbeth kills Duncan he says that only “the innocent sleep” and he “hath murdered sleep”. Macbeth feels that he is the true murderer but as seen in Lady Macbeth's tortured state after, it presents compelling evidence for her role in it all. She questions her inability to not get the “blood” of her hands, “What, will these hands never be clean?” (5.1.37) and goes on to exclaim that no matter what, no amount of “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten (her) hand” (5.1. 43). Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking and need to get rid of the blood by washing her hands is ironic considering what she said to Macbeth right after the murder, “Go get some water, And wash this filthy witness from your hands” (2.2. 49-50). In the end, Lady Macbeth is oblivious to the switched roles and the revelation of who is truly to blame as her drives her to

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