Skip to content

Masculinity In Macbeth Essay Topics

The Roles of Masculinity and Femininity in Macbeth Essay

1589 WordsDec 4th, 20097 Pages

Bradley Allcock
English 162
Essay 2 A prominent and permeating theme in Macbeth is the roles and characteristics of masculinity and femininity. Throughout the play Shakespeare presents the audience with strong and sometimes conflicting views of these gender roles. What exactly defines being a man or a woman? How does an individual’s grasp of these roles effect their actions? Shakespeare shows that a clear and accurate understanding of the concept of masculinity is of critical importance in the success of a ruler. In particular, he illustrates how Macbeth’s acceptance of a perverted, violent view of masculinity leads his kingdom into chaos and turmoil, and leads Macbeth to his inevitable demise. Moral order can only be restored…show more content…

The guilt over being a party to murder drives Lady Macbeth to madness and eventually suicide. Furthermore, the use of Lady Macbeth in this way may be a reference to the Book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. Macbeth is inspired to murder by his wife in the same way Eve convinced Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Including the three witches and the goddess Hecate all the figures in the play who manipulate Macbeth are female. Perhaps this is reference to femininity as the origin of sin. Macbeth’s primary sin is his inability to successfully come to terms with his masculinity. When he expresses his doubts about killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth is able to convince him by challenging his manhood. “When you durst do it, then you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man” (1.7.49-51). In this passage she plays on his masculine sense of ambition. Ironically, at this point she as the “feminine” character seems to be more in touch with her ambition than he is. Lady Macbeth even goes so far as to compare his willingness to kill Duncan with his ability to perform sexually. “From this time such I account thy love. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art in desire?” (1.7.38-41). By emasculating her husband in this way she is able to manipulate him into killing Duncan as a way to prove his manhood. While Macbeth’s doubts about killing his King foreshadow the

Show More

Macbeth and Manhood Essay

1087 Words5 Pages

Manhood and its definition is a major theme in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. On first appearance, Macbeth is characterized as a loyal and valiant thane in defense of the honor of Scotland and King Duncan. The brutality that he shows as a warrior on the battlefield is an acceptable and lauded trait. These attributes come into question as the witches introduce the prophecies tempting Macbeth’s vaulting ambition. After the regicide, Macbeth is damned and is no longer concerned with being honorable. He covets immediate gratification at all costs and by all means. However, this gratification is temporary due to that Macbeth later on, experiences guilt and regret which directs him towards his morbid fate and ultimate demise. The hierarchy…show more content…

Macbeth’s exceptional devotion to instinctively secure the king’s survival, earned him his new title and high regard. His manliness attributes has thus then portrayed him as the perfect role model for the other men. As an allotment of manhood, the essence of brutality, especially in a warrior, is deemed essential. Men are expected to have that ruthlessness among their character as it was envisioned by humans beforehand. “Because this state of mind is rarely attained, and when achieved, nearly impossible to maintain, androgyny is an ideal goal- a vision of unity and harmony beyond the confines of gender, within the confines of the human” (Kimbrough 133). They are envisaged to be very masculine and cruel in order to be able to kill their opponents in battle without feeling guilt or regret. It is a man’s job to prolong this aspect due to that women are defined to have a gentle heart and be regretful of any vicious acts. In the play, Macbeth displays his brutality as a tenacious, barbaric warrior, fulfilling his duty of being a protector to King Duncan. Macbeth first demonstrates his cruelty at the execution of McDonwald when he slits the traitor’s body. Throughout the story, he had never once felt remorse for the opponents he had killed for it was his value of loyalty to King Duncan that motivated him. Brutality and loyalty were the foundations of earning the title “Thane of Cawdor,” thus making Macbeth already contented with this honor. Macbeth is certain that

Show More