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Macbeth Essay William Shakespeare lived in an era where women possessed few political and private rights. Women were subjected to the will of men as men were thought to be greater morally, physically and intellectually. Shakespeare, as he was living in this hierarchical and patriarchal world, was subjected to this value system. His powerful and tragic play Macbeth, reflects aspects of this world but also challenges the very basis of it's foundations with the use of the characters, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, the Three Witches and Lady Macduff. These characters are not necessarily represented as traditional stereotypical type; this is inputted through the use of role reversal. It can be found that the representation of status in the Shakespearean tragedy is much determined by gender conflict. The relative status of the characters in Macbeth is circulated around the relationship between the King and Macbeth. This tragic play structure is displayed through the use of acts and scenes. ...read more.


Macbeth responds to her gibe with a clear sense of himself as a man, and as a human. "I dare do all that may become a man/who dares do more is none" (1, 7, 46-47). It is clear then, that Macbeth while typifying the dominating stereotypical masculine image of the time, one of courage, decisiveness and strength, is also plagued with a significant weakness, that of femininity. This serves to both uphold the values of the Elizabethan era, and to challenge them. In Lady Macbeth's desire to unsex herself ("unsex me here" (1, 5, 40)), she seeks to provoke her husband to action by unabashedly attempting to portray herself as an example of the superior 'man.' In doing so she succeeds in inverting the standard of male and female roles as they were prescribed by the Elizabethan Era. She demonstrates her great concern with her husband's weak countenance saying, "Yet do I fear thy nature; / It is too full o'th'milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way" (1, 5, 16-18). ...read more.


She openly defies the notions of the time that dictated a woman, especially a wife, should be silent, avoids discussing politics and should remain focused on household duties. It presents her as a female with strong masculine characteristics, even to the point where she uses the fact that she is female to feed her ambitions and desires. In conclusion, the characters in Macbeth do not follow the stereotypical gender roles in relation to their status prescribed by the context in which Shakespeare lived. Instead, both male and female characters were given elements of each other's sexual characteristics and as a result are portrayed to be given different representations of status. This challenged the preconceived notions of gender and posed the question 'what is it to be a man?' and 'what is it to be masculine?' The play Macbeth does this. However, while it supports in some areas, the hierarchical and patriarchal realities of the world in which Shakespeare lived, it also creates a unique reality of gender construction and role. ...read more.

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