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Macbeth

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Introduction

Maryam Mohamed 10a To what extent is masculinity associated with evil and violence in Macbeth? Evil is a theme widely explored by Shakespeare in his plays and "Macbeth" is no exception. This play demonstrates violence in relation to evil, and evil in turn is a reflection of the desperation and anxieties of the characters in "Macbeth." The question of whether masculinity is associated with evil and violence is easily answered as the main character in this horrific tragedy is Macbeth himself, who commits a range of heinous crimes from murder, to dabbling with witchcraft. However, the extent to which masculinity is related to evil is more obscure. In this essay I am going to show that evil and violence in "Macbeth" is not monopolised by masculine characters. To show this I will be analysing female characters who demonstrate strong evil qualities and personalities such as Lady Macbeth, The Witches and Hecate. I will also discuss Banquo, Macduff and King Duncan because these characters represent chivalry, nobility and honour of human characters, even though they are male. The first character I will be looking at is Macbeth himself. This is because he is the central character and focus of the entire play. From the outset Macbeth is depicted as a fierce war hero: "Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops, And fixed his head upon our battlements." (Act 1: Scene 1: Lines 22 - 23) The captain using the word, "Unseamed.......nave to the chops," gives the impression that Macbeth has an evil side to him which he is struggling to control as no admirable man would commit an attack like murder in such a savage way. ...read more.

Middle

" I'll go no more. I am afraid to think what i have done - Look on't again, I dare not." (Act 2: Scene 2: Lines 50 - 52). Here Macbeth admits that he is not courageous enough to face what he has done revealing a conscienceness towards morality. Lady Macbeth is displays an overbearing strength of character at the beginning of the play. We also see the closeness between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth through her very excited reaction to the letter from Macbeth. It also shows how Lady Macbeth is her husbands confidant. In the beginning of the play her character traits begin to become obvious to the audience; she is dominant, subjective and, like her husband, very ambitious. These qualities make her into a menacing character. Firstly, when Lady Macbeth is reading a letter from her husband, we notice right away that she plays an important part in her relationship with Macbeth, showing the forceful side to her. "Yet do i fear thy nature, it is too full o'th'milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way," (Act 1: Scene 5: Lines 14 - 16) showing that she knows Macbeth's character too well and knows that it is not in his heart/ nature to do such a thing. Lady Macbeth invokes the evil spirits to 'unsex' so she can be filled with cruelty and be left with no feminine qualities (i.e removing all emotions of guilt or remorse). This suggests that evil is not male or female but rather 'sexless.' " Stop up th' access and passage to remorse." (Act 1: Scene 5: Line 42). ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Macbeth taunts Macbeth's masculinity in order to strengthen him. Similarly, when Macbeth hires murderers in Act 3 Scene 1 he, like Lady Macbeth, questions their manliness as a form of persuasion. "Do you find your patience so predominant in your nature that you can let this go?" (Act 3: Scene 1: Lines 84 - 86). However, it is not entirely correct to say that evil is only related to, or stems from a masculine source. What contrasts this viewpoint is that we see certain characters such as Duncan, Banquo and Macduff who present masculinity in a positive light. It is not fair to say that evil is only associated to masculinity. Both the Witches and Lady Macbeth are portrayed as the most crude and most evil characters in the play. Hecate, the only divine being shown in the play, is the goddess of witches. This perhaps suggests that ultimately women are the forces of evil. However, there is also another side to this arguement. The fact that evil appears to be present in both men (Macbeth, the Murderers) and women (Lady Macbeth, the Witches and Hecate) in the play, suggests that it is not enough to categorise evil as masculine or feminine. The gender of the witches is a matter of confusion because they appear to be women and: "Yet have beards." Lady Macbeth invokes the evil spirits to "unsex" her. Thus evil itself is 'sexless' that a result can be found present in anyone, regardless of gender. Rather that evil can exist in both sexes. Evil is force that transgresses gender. Maryam Mohamed 10a ...read more.

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