Gianna Di Giovanni
5 January 2018
Gender Roles in Macbeth
The tragic story of Macbeth by William Shakespeare exemplifies the common idea of gender roles. Within the time of Shakespeare women are known to stay home and provide care for their husband showing characteristics of being weak, anxious, afraid, and vulnerable. The males at the time were viewed as being stable, dominant, and brave within a marriage. However, in the play Macbeth, the feminine characters demonstrate masculine traits while the masculine characters exemplify more feminine traits, reversing the stereotypical gender roles. William Shakespeare illustrates this idea of reversal gender roles throughout the characters in the play Macbeth, through Lady Macbeth showing masculine characteristics of being heartless, manipulative, dominant, and ruthless when killing King Duncan, while Macbeth shows feminine characteristics of being reluctant, hesitant, and cowardly.
The marriage of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are not a stereotypical husband and wife. Often times through the play Lady Macbeth is views as manipulative, dominant, and forceful. Her dominant side of her is shown within her marriage under many situations. “Let me handle tonight’s preparations, because tonight will change every night and every day for the rest of our lives.” (1.5) Men were viewed as high and above in the patriarchal society that they lived in where men viewed and treated women as property and having full control over their actions. Contrary to that, Lady Macbeth had full control over Macbeth in the situation of killing King Duncan.
Within the weird sisters the physical appearance of a women is portrayed as common male features. For instance, the facial hair of the weird sisters. These particular sisters are portrayed as disturbing the mystery of nature and mankind and to be puzzling and not very clear, as men are said to be. “You should be women, / And yet your beards forbid me to interpret/ that you are so” (1.2). Facial hair is grown on many males within the time of Shakespeare and current day, with this quote from the play it attacks the male gender with their appearance, showing the masculine side of the sisters.
Macbeth throughout the play is shown as reluctant and hesitant. The guilt he contains within him started from the planning of killing King Duncan for power. He began to doubt almost everything Lady Macbeth was suggesting to do and became disturbed to a point in which he couldn’t come to complete the action where Lady Macbeth demonstrated her masculine traits. Macbeth felt the power could be contained in another way, which was unclear in the play. “The king trusts me in two ways. First of all, I am his kinsman and his subject so I should always try to protect him. Second I am his host, so I should be closing the door in his murders’ face, not trying to murder him.” (1.7) thus showing his hesitant and reluctant reaction to Lady Macbeths plan on killing the King.
The reversal of stereotypical gender roles are shown through both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth as well as the weird sisters in a frequent about of situations, one being the death of King Duncan and physical appearances. Shakespeare shows that