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How far can Shakespeare's presentation of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth be seen as typical of their gender?

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Introduction

How far can Shakespeare's presentation of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth be seen as typical of their gender? Shakespeare's plays were written in a period of time, which we relate to people from by calling them 'Elizabethans'. However 'Macbeth' was written in 1606, after the death of Queen Elizabeth I during the kingship of the newly appointed James VI of Scotland (now James I of England). The play was written with the new king in mind and was based around the chronicles of Scotland. Despite this, Shakespeare still changed details within the chronicles, for instance, Banquo within the real story was actually guilty, but being an ancestor of King James, within the play he made him into an innocent character. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth however obviously doesn't as he kills Duncan to become the king. It is debatable how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth can be seen as typical of their gender as they change so much within the play. During the play they seem to swap roles as one becomes strong the other becomes week. Macbeth is first heard of by 'the captain', he reports to Duncan of how he 'bravely' rips Macdonwald open from the navel to jaw. However by the end of the play no-one has a good word to say about him, changes like this occur many times within the play as during this period from a 'hero' to a 'butcher', Macbeths manly hood goes the opposite way from being 'scared' to taking everything in his own hands. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Macbeth first thinks about the murder (Act1 Scene3 Lines 134-42) he states how "whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,/And make my seated heart knock at my ribs" basically meaning he is terrified of what he is thinking of but then says how fantastical it would be. Apart from this thought I don't believe he has the 'guts' to commit the murder and just the thought of killing "shakes his single state of man" until Lady Macbeth steps in. She takes full control of the situation and at times seems more of the man than Macbeth. Lady Macbeth uses the fact that she sees Macbeth as frail and 'petty' and challenges this manhood of his. In an attempt to convince him to kill the King (Act1 Scene 7) she challenges him by calling him a "coward". ...read more.

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