Untraditional Gender Roles In Shakespeare's Tragedies

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"Are you a man?" - Untraditional Gender Roles in Shakespeare 's Tragedies "Are you a man?" (3.4.58) Lady Macbeth asks her husband as he exhibits signs of unstableness when confronted with Banquo 's ghost. A simple question that seems unsubstantial, rhetorical, as she obviously knows her husband 's sex. However, it is worth closer investigation: Why is Lady Macbeth questioning her husband 's masculinity? Smith states: "[M]asculinity, in cultures all over the world is not a natural given, something that comes with possession of male sexual organs, but an achievement, something that must be worked toward and maintained" (131). At a first glance, people familiar with Shakespeare 's tragedies Macbeth and Coriolanus might state that the men presented in these works are indeed bursting with masculinity after this definition: The honoured nobleman Macbeth, who does not shy away from fighting for his land and status, as well as the prototypical warrior Coriolanus, who is defined almost exclusively by his strength…show more content…
The works we are dealing with in this essay were approximately written in 1606 (Macbeth) and 1609 (Coriolanus). While we can assume the setting of the plays in the 11th century for Macbeth , Coriolanus is set around 500 B.C . We should thus keep in mind that the culture and worldview prevailing in the characters ' world do not parallel the understanding and values in Shakespeare 's creative period but are even more backward. However, this essay uses the time of their creation as point of reference which we would define as a part of the early modern period today. In order to narrow this vast period of time, I will make use of the term Elizabethan Age based upon various critics such as Märtin (8). During this period, the traditional gender roles were defined by the patriarchal

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