Masculinity In Macbeth Essay

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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.

In Act 1, Shakespeare presents Macbeth with admired masculine qualities countered with Lady Macbeth criticising his idiosyncrasies. Lady Macbeth’s definition of a man is disparate to others’. In Scene 2, the captain labels Macbeth as “brave”. This is a venerated and respected quality on the battlefield. King Duncan later refers to
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Shakespeare has Macbeth stand his ground until the end and lose his fight after trying his best. We are shown glimpses of the Macbeth we saw in Act 1 – brave and valiant – but in an altered context. In Scene 3, Macbeth says, “I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hack’d”. We can see he wants to die as someone who, though hated, fought confidently and skilfully. In Scene 5, Macbeth also says “At least we’ll die with harness on our back”. He thinks that if he dies like this, all is not lost and that, despite his reputation, he may still be admired for certain qualities. He also refuses to be affected by the death of this wife either. He says, “She would have died hereafter”. He pushes it to the back of his mind and focuses on the battle rather than Lady Macbeth’s demise. In Scene 8, before Macbeth is slain, the last thing he says is “Lay on Macduff, / And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!”. He is eager to be strong to the end – attempting to keep the qualities that he was once respected

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