Gender Role in Macbeth

University: University of Cambridge

  • Unit No: 57
  • Level: High school
  • Pages: 5 / Words 1138
  • Paper Type: Essay
  • Course Code:
  • Downloads: 341
Question :

This assessment will cover certain questions which are like:

  • Who was Lady Macbeth?
  • How Shakespeares work is related to Macbeth?
Answer :


In the book of Macbeth, William Shakespeare discusses gender roles in the 17th century and conveys the unique separation between male and female duties in life. Women are mostly seen as domestic caretakers whose main role in society is the being consisted of minded to their husbands, households and children, whereas men dominate the work of politics, decision making and maintaining finances. The current essay will discuss the characters that had mixed attributes of both genders from inside and outside both that had a big impact on the story.

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Main Body

From the viewpoint of society, the roles of males and females are distinct. Most of the women are expected to be dependent, submissive and have no opinion, whereas men are expected to be ambitious, strong and independent. These gender-based attributes and roles stemmed from the idea that females are manipulative and evil and lead to the view that males must take control of daily living and relationships in context to suppress the tendencies of women. This view of women can derived back from the idea that women those like manipulative, evil and deceiving if they are not controlled. They can use femininity to influence men into committing atrociousness. Shakespeare challenges gender roles in Macbeth by interviewing feminine and masculine characteristics into the characters that ultimately express that it is not good gender but it is the nature of the individual which determines how they act.

The most significant portraiture of interviewed gender roles in Macbeth is the character of Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is a woman who is strong, ambitious and violent. These characters were largely considered masculine in the 17th century. However, Macbeth has characteristics as equal to males. She is unable to pursue her ambitions due to social constraints on women during the 17th century. As Macbeth is unable to pursue her things, she collects her energy to influence her husband to do what she wanted to do had she been born as a male. Lady Macbeth stated, “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”. This stated her desire to become a male so that she could follow her ambitions. In context to this, she influenced her husband so that her ambition also led him to murder King Duncan so that he could get power. Even after the murder of King, it was the Macbeth that was the source of strength and reassurance for her husband. Whereas her husband becomes emotionally frail and weak, she continues to improve her mental stability and strength. This conveys that she believes in her husband fully. However, the strength and stability of Macbeth last for only a short period of time and she is eventually consumed by the guild as Macbeth becomes highly sensitive. This feminine characteristic of sensitivity leads to the death of Lady Macbeth because she no longer maintains the strengths that she had before which leads to her suicide.

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Through Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare states the idea that women are women, does not mean that they do not have the strength and ambition as men. He fully throws away the societal aspects of how women should behave or act and this highlights that women have a similar capacity as men and are able to be the source of ambition and opinions in relationships. This indicates in one play when Macbeth challenges her husband to go through the murder of King Duncan and saying him “But screw your courage to sticking place”. By this line, it is clear that Lady Macbeth is the source of ambition, power and strength in her relationship. The view of women as both masculine and feminine was abnormal in the 17th century, therefore they were tightly bound to the specific roles of gender and female inferiority. Shakespeare puts all females on a similar playing field as males in Macbeth. If you need quality assignment help then you can contact us.

As it has been prominent throughout the whole novel Shakespeare has a thing of adding the male attributes in the female characters of his story. Apart from Lady Macbeth, this is evident in the character of the three witches. All along the story, it was profound that Macbeth's inner provided him with a sense of security for his actions and saved him from guilt and conscience. This was the main reason he was able to commit the crime and three witches were driving force for him to kill King Duncan. The reason for that was that it was their words that were echoing in his mind that it was his destiny to kill the king and take his place. The character of these witches showed the traits of the feminine as well as the masculine sides from inward and outward. Another thing that was problematic regarding the gender role in the play was that though those witches were sisters they had beards. Throughout the whole, these witches are seen as female as they work over the manipulation but by the end of the play, the kind of strength shows that they can also be seen as men.

However the characters of Lady Macbeth and the three witches are perfect examples of female characters with male attributes, there was another character that displayed the opposite side of the argument that is male character with female attributes. A perfect example of this kind of character has been Macbeth. At the start of the play, his character has the traits of the female attributes like lack of self-confidence and belief due to which he almost refrained from killing the King but he was reminded of his masculine side by his wife (Mazumder, Sameem and Biswas, 2023).

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In the end, it can be said that Macbeth and other works of Shakespeare have worked smartly in displaying the male and female traits in his characters. Female characters with male attributes in his story were the driving force for the major events of the story and male characters with female attributes were the characters that committed those big events.

Reference list

  • Mazumder, D.S., Sameem, M. a. M. and Biswas, P. (Dr ) P. (2023). Portrayal Of Gender Dynamics In Shakespeare's Macbeth. Journal of Pharmaceutical Negative Results, [online] 5(2), pp.2706-2711.
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